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  • The New Fairness

    In his State of the Union, President Obama has once again donned the mantle of progressivism, but this time rather than the radical argument that it is he claims it to be the core American tradition.

    At Osawatomie, Kansas, Teddy Roosevelt at his most progressive, and so was Obama, who said the choice was between “you’re-on-your-own economics” and the view that “we are greater together-when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.” The word “fair” recurs in various forms throughout the Osawatomie speech, with reminders along the way that things have to be made fair-and that means ever more government authority, programs, and regulation.

    Tonight, he tried to take the moral high ground with this “fairness” argument, sounding more reasonable and moderate, and putting it in the terms of American values.  But the main thesis is still there, and the whole opening of the State of the Union is from the Osawatomie speech.  Here is how he put it in his pre-speech briefing: “We can go in two directions — one is towards less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”  Here is how it came out in the final text:  “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

    And as before government is just the tool for that job.  In his view, “fairness” flows not from opportunity and freedom of the individual, but from more government power, federal education programs, economic regulations, and infrastructure spending.  And, of course, raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for these “investments” would only be fair.

    Such policy prescriptions lead to a governing class that insists on enforcing political and economic ‘fairness’ rather than letting us govern ourselves, choose our own vocations and earn our own success.  The idea that the government can and should step in to guarantee economic fairness is contrary to the founding principles that make America so great-and that enable its citizens to achieve success.  It is contrary to the very meaning of the American Dream.

    Americans believe in equality as a principle – as in we are all created equal and are all equal before the law.  They support equal opportunity for everyone-a deeply American concept that makes no appearance in Obama’s speech.  That’s because equal opportunity for all also leads to vast differences, great diversity and much inequality in many things-which is the natural outgrowth of liberty and human flourishing.  What Americans oppose is a vast government trying to make all outcomes equal-regardless of individual effort.


    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to The New Fairness

    1. Jeff, Illinois says:

      Ultimately, history will determine that this president was one of our nation's greatest, given the obstructionism of the GOP. His strength of character, ability to articulate a palpable vision and efforts to put in place mechanisms to strengthen our economy for everyone can be well measured. It's only those who are stuck in their own short sighted idealogue that will report a distorted view of this presidency. What a shame that we can't get fully behind this president and give him his due instead of treating him as some sort of Manchurian Candidate. But again history will ultimate give him his due and the GOP will be written about as obstructionist regressives.

      • Paul says:

        Character!? He takes no responsibility for anything that has gone wrong. It's Bush or the Tsumnami, or the Arab Spring, or the Republicans, but not him. He lies at almost every turn. He is weak as water, saying one thing and doing another or whatever he thinks is needed at the time. What a disgusting but appropriate example of Affirmitave Action. No budget in 1000 days? Few cabinet meetings. But golf galore!

      • Marco says:

        This president has radical ideas, and I think he is a marxist. He is one of the worst presidents I have seen since Jimmy Carter. Our economy is weak because of Obama and liberal policies. God help us all.
        Obama hates America. I was not born in America, but I'm more American than our president. America is a great country, and I hope Obama is a one term president like Jimmy Carter.

    2. Cynthia Kniffin says:

      Matt, Isn't Obama actually describing the undergirding of Communism? He is setting us up for everything un-American. It does not seem like most Americans even understand what they are giving up. Our Educators aren't teaching American Priciples as expressed by our founders because they are not being taught this in college or textbooks. Cynthia Kniffin in Ohio

    3. Rick says:

      Jeff, ultimately "…to articulate a palable vision…", decodes to leveling the playing field, or a command economic dictatorship . This means mediocrity and enslavement. The economics and progress you speak of and what this president is trying for, is a deadend. Reviewing history, as I know it, shows a world of progressive communal slavery – Communist socialism, French egalitarianism of the 4th and 5th Republics, and Britains Fabians and Labour Socialists. Every country where centrally controlled economics dominant, demonstrates a failure of bringing 'fairness' to everyone. If you want mediocrity, follow and support this president. I want a president who respects the Constitutional authority of the people, supports freedom, limits spending, and gets government off our backs.

    4. Edwin D. Schindler says:

      Obama, Democrats and other demogogues rountinely equate "equality" with "fairness." This is not a new tactic. This is because there is no valid argument to be made against fairness; an unfair situation, whether on an individual level or societal one, inherently and correctly violates human notions of justice. Most Americans correctly perceive of the distinction between equality and fairness and do not support equality in the context meant by the President; hence, the use of "fairness."

      There is an implicit presumption in modern liberalism that all "individuals" are fungible; all persons are equally ambitious, hard working, equally educated, intelligent and responsible. Common human experience knows this to be false. The "80-20 Rule" suggests that roughly 80% of GDP is produced by 20% of the population, much the way 20% of Americans pay approximately 80% of the federal income tax.
      However, if one accepts as a postulate that all persons are equally capable and worthy of success, as Obama and so-called "progressives" believe, than anything but equality must necessarily be unfair.

    5. Bobbie says:

      "fairness" is determined by Americans, not the President or his rules of government!! He is not a success of America, he is a con without a conscience. A manipulator without a second thought. The bigger he makes government, the littler people are. Individuals made this country great. Not controlled government or their influences that we've come to know so many people have been and continue to be wrongfully manipulated through various sources beyond our control. The more government, the more people resent each other. Think about it! Get the government out. We are people with minds of intelligence of our own. Everyone follows the rules that apply to everyone without the need to categorize our humanity.
      Mr. Obama is the weakest leader of the free world where his strength is focused on destruction. How sad and lowly anyone is who favors him…

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