President Obama wants to talk about fairness in our governing policies. What is the Republican response? (More)
In his speech at Osawatomie, Kansas President Obama introduced the word “fairness” into the political conversation.
Now, fortunately, that’s not a future that we have to accept, because there’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country – a view that’s truer to our history, a vision that’s been embraced in the past by people of both parties for more than 200 years.
…It is a view that says in America we are greater together – when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share.
The word might have been new but the concept was not. As an example, he’d given a speech back in April 2011 about the country’s fiscal situation just after Rep. Ryan had released his budget proposal which basically eliminated Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system. Here’s what the President said about that:
It’s a vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors. It says that 10 years from now, if you’re a 65-year-old who’s eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today. It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy the insurance that’s available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck – you’re on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it…
They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That’s not right. And it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.
In other words … that’s not fair.
Of course Republicans have been dancing around this concept of fairness ever since he introduced it. Usually they do that by accusing him of being the one to introduce class warfare (instead of those who want to end Medicare as we know it in order to maintain a tax break for the wealthy).
But now conservative writer Thomas Sowell has just come right out and called President Obama’s message The Fairness Fraud.
To ask whether life is fair – either here and now, or at any time or place around the world, over the past several thousand years – is to ask a question whose answer is obvious. Life has seldom been within shouting distance of fair, in the sense of even approximately equal prospects of success…
More fundamentally, the question whether life is fair is very different from the question whether a given society’s rules are fair. Society’s rules can be fair in the sense of using the same standards of rewards and punishments for everyone. But that barely scratches the surface of making prospects or outcomes the same.
People raised in different homes, neighborhoods and cultures are going to behave differently – and those differences have consequences. The multiculturalist dogma may say that all cultures are equal, or equally deserving of respect, but treating cultures as sacrosanct freezes people into the circumstances into which they happened to be born, much like a caste system.
Mr. Sowell’s argument at first is that we should all just accept the fact that life isn’t fair … learn to live with it. Never mind that wealthy folks have the money and access to tilt the system unfairly in their direction. We should all just pretend to not notice and accept getting screwed by it all. I can just hear him saying the same thing to those living in slavery … don’t rock the boat, life was never meant to be fair (by the way, Mr. Sowell is African American so that one might have not worked out so well for him).
But then he exposes where he’s been going with this all along. The dog whistles come out blaring when he suggests that people are poor (or not wealthy) because of their cultural roots. So we’ve now turned the class war into a culture war. And obviously any culture associated with black or brown skin is the cause of unfairness. He didn’t come out and say that. But everyone knows that’s what he meant.
I doubt that I have to unpack the racism and classism of all that for my readers here. I simply want to point out that this, my friends, is as clear an articulation of the Republican platform as I’ve seen. If you want to understand the choice we have in front of us this November – there you have it.
Crossposted from Smartypants