As grateful as I am for Barack Obama’s profound, nonsensical meditations on the meaning of hope, I am even more grateful that the One has come to make the world fair, and to tell us what fairness really means.
President Obama has spent a lot of his time lately discussing fairness, and if you’re completely ignorant of the facts of this world, it sounds great. However, like his babbling about hope and change, the whole point of it is vagueness, so that he can once again be all things to all men, not clarity; the clearer he is about what he wants, the more uncomfortable the American people get.
Even in the hope and change days—ah, those heady days of wine and roses, they are not long—he claimed to have some exclusive access to fairness, some unique understanding of it that others simply do not possess. Take, for example, that infamous back-and-forth with Charlie Gibson in which he said that, even if it would bring in less revenue, he would still raise taxes on the wealthy for the sake of “fairness.” He has no qualms about the fairness of willingly hurting the economy—just so long as he punishes those who have been blessed with material prosperity; his contribution to the justice of the world is to hurt people.
As with so many other concepts—hope, equality, morality—the Democrats equivocate, and change what it means.
Traditionally, fairness means giving everyone equal treatment—equal protection under the law, or, as conservatives often specify, equality of opportunity. The rule of law is inherently fair because the law, like God, is no respecter of persons. President Obama frequently says that he supports, “everyone playing by the same rules” in order to justify making everyone play by different rules.
Proportionality should take a pinnacle position in fairness policies. A person who has very little should be required to give very little. A person who has very much should be required to give very much, but on a proportional basis. If a person has a hundred billion dollars and they're required to give 10 % of it, than they will give 10 billion dollars. If they have only a hundred dollars and are required to give 10%, than they will give ten dollars. Each would have been required to give an equal proportion of their means and each should be entitled to the same rights and privileges.
The president says these things in the context of raising taxes on the wealthy—and not all the wealthy, just wealthy investors whose income primarily comes from capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than other forms of income. How much more dishonest can one man be! It’s not just class warfare, but even within the upper class he is dividing people up! You cannot say that “everyone should play by the same rules,” and then advocate a punishing, re distributive progressive income tax in which people are divided up by classes, with different rules for each class.
But, as I’ve written before, the Democrats take their complaints with God to the altar of government. To say that it is not “fair” that someone live in poverty while others are wealthy, or, to use a more melodramatic example from Nancy Pelosi, that “women die on the floor,” is a complaint to God; it is to ask for a theodicy. Why is there evil in the world? Surely the government didn’t invent it; surely the government didn’t create poverty (though with policies like President Obama’s, it spreads it copiously); surely the government didn’t create death. Yet liberals immediately claim that it is the government’s job to right every wrong in the world, to either fix God’s mistakes or, in the case of sexual sins, to apologize for humanity’s.
Take it up with God, I say. He’s fairer and wiser than the government will ever be.
If the president really cared about government fairness rather than the mysterious decisions of Providence, if he actually cared about equal protection under the law rather than under God, he would support a flat tax, like Steve Forbes and Governor Rick Perry. This is not a difficult concept to understand: everyone should play by the same rules and pay the same rate.
Ah, but here comes the objection to the Heavens: but it’s not fair that certain people have and make more money than others! Well, they pay from a higher principle, for one thing, and for another, how exactly does one decide what is a “fair” rate? Why does the Buffett Rule push for 30%? Where did they get this number? Are only Harvard Law graduates qualified to make this judgment, or is the Oracle from Omaha a real oracle?
The brilliant libertarian Peter Thiel visited an Occupy Wall Street encampment, and asked a woman how much of his income it would be fair for him to pay in taxes each year. She was baffled by this questions, and simply spouted Democrat talking points. “I think the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire. I am against the Bush tax cuts.” But she had no alternative proposal, no ideal toward which she and other progressives were progressing. All she had was envy.
And that's all president Obama has to offer us.