Archive for Sunday, May 3, 2009

Making life more fair would be unfair

May 3, 2009


The Fairness Doctrine has crept back into the news. At issue is the domination of talk radio by conservatives. Fairness dictates that opportunity be given to other points of view. It seems that liberals want to have their own Rush Limbaugh and to prove that they can be just as obnoxious as anyone else.

The father of the fairness philosophy, by the way, was John Rawls. His answer to the Wall Street mantra, “Greed is good,” was that envy is also good and could be harnessed to promote parity between those who have too much and those who don’t have enough.

The moment I begin thinking about fairness, I’m smitten by the impression that unfairness rules this world. For instance, most of us don’t get to experience even our promised 15 minutes of fame. And you know what? It isn’t fair. Why should a few so-called celebrities hog the limelight while the rest of us cower in obscurity, written off as “nobodies?”

Perhaps you say: “Life isn’t fair.” But human beings must hold themselves to a higher standard than the law of the jungle. Our remotest ancestor may have been a blob of blue-green algae or an ape, but that doesn’t mean we must behave like animals, clawing at one another over table scraps. Besides, what’s so “natural” about Natural Selection? “Selection” smacks of discrimination, exclusivity, snobbism, privilege. “Survival of the Fittest” — does that sound fair?

Secular liberals who deplore the Religious Right’s campaign against evolution ought to recognize that Darwin was a cheerleader for an aristocracy, a scourge of the unfortunate and weak, the enemy of what’s fair. No law says we’re obliged to accept the division of our species into winners and losers. Doesn’t everyone have a right to survive and to enjoy a little fame? After all, the main difference between celebrities and nonentities that they have publicity agents and we don’t.

While we’re on the subject, isn’t there something odious about “Halls of Fame?” Why glorify institutions that only admit superstars? Most of us can’t dunk the ball or hit the big home run. Most of us can’t even make the team. But does that mean we’re vermin? Let the members of Halls of Fame spend a day in our shoes, shagging balls, mopping the locker room floor, picking up sweaty socks. Let them warm the bench while they wait in vain for a call from the coach.

Another crime against fairness is the lottery. Only one among millions ever wins. Talk about unfair! Whenever someone else hits the jackpot I feel personally cheated. I feel as if I’ve had my pocket picked. I experience what John Rawls called, “excusable envy.” The government talks about taxing the rich and spreading the wealth, and here it is creating another multimillionaire. How is the lottery winner different from robber barons who award themselves giant bonuses with federal bailout money? They’re all hogs at the trough. Tax the lottery winners at 100 percent, I say, and distribute the proceeds to those of us who never manage to win a game of pinochle.

A voice cries out in the wilderness: Why should humanity be divided between young and old? For the sake of fairness, shouldn’t everyone be middle aged? Why should a few overachievers be designated “geniuses” when most of us labor under the stigma of mediocrity? Let’s have some NEA grants for sign painters, for those who decorate black velvet with tigers and matadors and cover hand saws with bucolic scenes. A few Nobel Prizes for dog catchers and pencil pushers. A little recognition for bunglers and bores.

Put a happy face and an A-plus on everybody’s work. Excellence is overrated. Don’t sell incompetence short. What matters is that we did our best. The problem lies with those who aren’t content with their fair share, who want to “get ahead.” It’s good to be average. It’s all right to be OK.

Now, the great question is: Who gets to decide what’s “fair?” The Fairness Committee, of course. It will be composed of wiser and more powerful people who know what’s best for you and me.

— George Gurley, who lives in rural Baldwin City, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

What a stupid piece of crap. Fairness is not about 15 minutes of fame for everyone nor winning the lottery. And fairness doesn't mean that everyone will be equal on all measures. Gurley is merely regurgitating the wingnut distortion of a sensible approach to life by pushing it to absurd extremes (one of their favorite tactics and in rather small toolbox.)

Corey Williams 9 years ago

I hope they don't pass it. I listen to the ACLJ show on my way home from work. That is the funniest thing on the air. The way they distort everything to get their base riled's priceless.

temperance 9 years ago

"The Fairness Doctrine has crept back into the news." Huh? Where? What news is Gurley reading?

The article's entire premise is faulty. Even Fox News is bored with it:

Gurley's next article: FEMA is building concentration camps to imprison conservatives!

RedwoodCoast 9 years ago

I cannot fathom how anyone could refer to this piece of crap op-ed as an "excellent piece."

And, Tom, I hardly think that Americans have been more cynical during the past several months than they were for the preceding 8 years. The only change has been in terms of demographics; conservatives got themselves voted out of control, so of course you'll notice an increase in cynicism among your conservative ranks.

Oh, but wait, you're linked up with the "common sense" network of conservative political philosophy. Why can't I be?!! I want some common sense! This is not fair!!

jaywalker 9 years ago

mancity, (or anyone)

What is ACLJ?

Corey Williams 9 years ago

American center for law and justice. Yeah, they ripped off the ACLU logo for some reason. Probably to make it sound similar enough to get some lefties to donate without thinking. Jay Sekulow is funny as anything to me. He has been beating that report about conservatives possibly doing bad things like a dead horse for the past few weeks. Basically a Limbaugh in that he seizes one thing and then distorts and amplifies it to appeal to his base. There have been times where he has had me in tears because he is such a moron. Anyone--and I mean anyone with a brain cell--could beat him in a debate.

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