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23. Fairness

Fairness is one of the fundamental ideals, values or principles that caused U.S. democracy to catch wind. 

We claim to believe that all of us are created equally and should be treated fairly.  We have the same divine spark of life within us and, therefore, deserve the same basic respect and opportunities in life.  We should be treated equally in the eyes of the law and justice systems.  We rebelled against European aristocratic systems in which position in society and life was determined by birth or by the whims of those born into wealth and power.  We’re conditioned to believe in fairness by our educational systems.  Our belief in the importance of fairness is cultural, collective, personal and deep.

Yet, we now live in a society in which wealthy families are able to pass most of their wealth on to their inheritors, allowing unfair advantages to those born into that wealth.  We tax income for hard work at up to 40%, but income from investments, that is, just having money and doing nothing, at 20%.  90% of the wealth of by far the wealthiest nation that has ever existed on Earth is controlled by less than 10% of its people (or whatever the number is), and primarily by a few handfuls of people, who are taking more.  Wealthy neighborhoods have better schools.  Wealthy people can afford good educations; poor can’t.  Huge numbers are homeless, in poverty or financial stress, or threatened by homelessness, poverty or financial stress, while others have far more than they will ever need.

Police target, arrest, abuse and imprison higher percentages of black, brown and poor people than rich white people.  Women are not paid as well as men.  Wealthy and powerful interests have far more influence over politicians and political outcomes than normal people.  We discriminate against some because of personal sexual preferences.  Employers preferentially hire younger, cheaper workers over older, more experienced and expensive employees.  We try to prevent people from visiting or immigrating to our country, because we are unfairly prejudiced against their religious beliefs. 

 

We punish our hungry for stealing food or people who consume cannabis as medicine, where there is no real harm to anyone, far more harshly than Wall Street criminals who steal millions and harm thousands.  We have a system in which one class of people, unfairly, can afford to pay legal strongmen to force their will against other classes of people who cannot afford to pay, to make laws and rules that benefit them, and to enforce their laws and protect them against threats to their position, wealth or power.  We punish the desperate who, suffering harms where they live, which we are often complicit in causing, take great risks to try to immigrate to an environment where they and their loved ones can thrive.

Fairness is one of our fundamental beliefs.  Yet, our society is chock full of unfairness.  The unfairnesses are getting bigger, too.  Of course, that creates bad feelings.  It pisses people off.  It’s blaring hypocrisy.  It is our heritage to rebel against unfairness.  Do it!  We must insist on and realize true fairness to be able to live and grow well.  Fairness is important.

 

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