Fair Shot, Fair Share, Fair Play: Is life really fair?

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come...

(Readers Note, this is not a short discussion!)

So who ever said life should be fair?  It seems of late (this campaign season) that all I am hearing everywhere is about fairness.  Somewhere, somehow, I must have missed some proclamation.  There must have been some fundamental shift of the polls, or a radical discovery somewhere deep in the cosmos, because I have been operating for all of my life under the safe and secure knowledge that life was not fair—never was!

In my youth, when academics governed my acquisition of knowledge and much of my existence, before life stepped in and modified the theory with practical experience, I studied, chemistry, biology, physics, and other natural sciences. In all my studies in the natural sciences ,I have seen nothing anywhere that tells me life is fair.  Nowhere have I seen any natural system that is predicated on fairness.  I also had an interest in philosophy and religion, and took some classes in these subjects and in my life have read much more in these areas. With the exception of only rare occasions, and those typically only in discussion of the pursuit of an ideal, no religion seems to espouse the theory of the innate fairness of the universe nor in us a people. So I am perplexed how this “Fairness” thing has now become a reality without me hearing about it.

What does it mean to be fair?

fair 1 (fâr)

adj. fair·er, fair·est

  1. Of pleasing appearance, especially because of a pure or fresh quality; comely.
    1. Light in color, especially blond: fair hair.
    2. Of light complexion: fair skin.
  2. Free of clouds or storms; clear and sunny: fair skies.
  3. Free of blemishes or stains; clean and pure: one’s fair name.
  4. Promising; likely: We’re in a fair way to succeed.
    1. Having or exhibiting a disposition that is free of favoritism or bias; impartial: a fair mediator.
    2. Just to all parties; equitable: a compromise that is fair to both factions.
  5. Being in accordance with relative merit or significance: She wanted to receive her fair share of the proceeds.
  6. Consistent with rules, logic, or ethics: a fair tactic.
  7. Moderately good; acceptable or satisfactory: gave only a fair performance of the play; in fair health.
  8. Superficially true or appealing; specious: Don’t trust his fair promises.
  9. Lawful to hunt or attack: fair game.
  10. Archaic Free of all obstacles.

adv.

  1. In a proper or legal manner: playing fair.
  2. Directly; straight: a blow caught fair in the stomach.

tr.v. faired, fair·ing, fairs

To join (pieces) so as to be smooth, even, or regular: faired the aircraft’s wing into the fuselage.

Archaic:

  1. A beautiful or beloved woman. (Old English fæger “morally pure, unblemished” – late 12c.)

Like most abstract concepts, even the definition of fairness depends on your point of view and the subject matter. The thefreedictionary.com definition at the left shows that fair has many meanings in many contexts.  It also shows that the original form of the word specifically related only to a beautiful or beloved woman.  Like the word cute, which originally meant bow-legged, our concept of fair has changed much over time. So if we can’t count on the definition, what is fairness?

What is it?

So, what is fairness anyway and why all of the sudden do we expect it? Why do we think we have a right to it? Why, given thousands of years of history to the contrary, do we think we can get it even if we wanted it in the first place? And, do we really want fairness for all or do we just want fairness for ourselves? Is fairness a real thing or just some perception, some passing fancy on which we are now pinning our hopes of ending our own struggles for survival? If fairness is really a perception, is it not then that life is innately unfair?

Why do we think  fairness is real?

To me, the idea of fairness as an attainable concept seems to be something that comes in the night to people that move from struggling for their day to day existence, to some level of affluence.  Those who believe in fairness seem to arrive at this belief either from their success or their failure to succeed.  Lest you think I am being duplicitous, let me explain further.

Some of those that arrive at the concept of fairness due to their success, seem to me to be those who have achieved some level of affluence in excess of what they expected they were due; based largely on the effort they put in to achieve their success.  In other words, they now have some level of personal guilt over what they now have.  Some, instead of embarking on a direct philanthropic effort to help others, decide that the method of their success was not fair and now want to change something to make it such for everyone.  But those changes actually make it unfair for others who are doing the same thing to be successful and remove their opportunity to achieve parity, replacing it with granted (not achieved parity)

Others arrive at the concept of fairness based on their failure to achieve and compete in some way.  In an effort to justify the failure of achievement, they seek analysis as to the outside circumstances that caused the fault.  In any analysis like this they will find casuations outside their control.  In no way am I trying to say that these causes are not real.  They very well may be real and have had a real effect. The end point, whether the cause is real or imagined, is the same. Convinced that it is simply a matter of abject fairness, people seek some form of redress in order to gain a different outcome. Regardless, the end is the same. An inherently arbitrary equalization system results.

The politics of calculation?

I have heard a number of times, likely based more on anecdotal evidence, that the country is divided 50/50.  Perhaps it is true the 50% of us would respond that we believe life should be expected to be fair and the other 50% would respond, it is not fair and we should not expect it to be so.  Politically this would appear a non sequitur.  Why then has history shown that the political promise of fairness is so successful?  Because, like most things political, when you look beneath the surface, the obvious, you will find the intrinsic value to the politician on selling the promise of fairness and equality.

Of the 50% that say they believe in life’s innate fairness, it is much more likely that regardless of what is said in the polls, only about 20% believe fervently that life can be fair and the remaining 30% say it because they think that such a concept will lead them to additional attainment. This 30% neither truly believe life is fair nor do they really want fairness.  What they want is to get part of that the others, who have been lucky enough, worked hard enough, or were unscrupulous enough to get more than they have.  Whether they earned them, or not, is not part of the equation.  The basic nature of this thought is based on the fact that life is not fair, they got more because it was not fair and only with some intervention that arbitrarily shifts the unfairness in my direction will I get the appearance of it being fair.  And it is the appearance, not real fairness that is the politician’s key.

Political fairness, historically, has not equaled equality.

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.
-Oscar Wilde

Most of the great philosophers debated the issue of fairness, and likewise debated the issues of equality.  Up until more recently the two issues were not intertwined.  For instance, Solon, was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet from 638 BC – 558 BC. Justice, for Solon, was not an arithmetical equality: giving equal shares to all alike irrespective of merit, which represents the democratic concept of distributive justice, but it was equity or fairness based on difference: giving shares proportionate to the merit of those who receive them. The same ideas of political order, leadership, and justice can be found in Plato’s dialogues.

For Plato, like Solon, the starting point for the inquiry about the best political order was the fact of social diversity and conflicting interests, which involve the danger of civil strife. The political community consisted of different parts or social classes, such as the noble, the rich, and the poor, each representing different values, interests, and claims to rule.

In Plato’s great work, Republic, he describes four virtues that are the characteristics of a good political society: justice, wisdom, moderation, and courage. Plato described justice as the equity or fairness that grants each social group its due and ensures that each “does one’s own work.”

Wikipedia cites Fairness and Justice are often confused.

According to most contemporary theories of justice, justice is overwhelmingly important: John Rawls claims that “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.” Justice can be thought of as distinct from and more fundamental than benevolence, charity, mercy, generosity or compassion. Justice has traditionally been associated with concepts of fate, reincarnation or Divine Providence, i.e. with a life in accordance with the cosmic plan. The association of justice with fairness has thus been historically and culturally rare and is perhaps chiefly a modern innovation [in western societies].

Studies at UCLA in 2008 have indicated that reactions to fairness are “wired” into the brain and that, “Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats… This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need”. Research conducted in 2003 at Emory University, Georgia, USA, involving Capuchin Monkeys demonstrated that other cooperative animals also possess such a sense and that “inequity aversion may not be uniquely human” indicating that ideas of fairness and justice may be instinctual in nature.

So why drive to get what we know is naturally unobtainable?

For many, the base concept of fairness is a diversion, a mere bauble, a trinket to dangle in the eyes of those that want it to be true, and something that can even be sold to those that don’t. It’s a dream for sale!

Assume for a minute the country really is one-half believers in innate fairness and the other half cynics.  From a political perspective, the hopeful believe in the dream and will buy it at almost any cost with their votes.  The cynics don’t believe it but, some of the cynics recognize that the dream provides a sociologically and politically correct way to justify getting more from someone else. The concept of fairness fosters the action of redistribution or reallocation because those that believe life should be fair will support the program of accommodation.Some Cynics correctly calculate that they will receive a gain. What they have been unable to attain by a survival of the fittest process, they can now get through the believers voluntary capitulation to a government imposed re-equalization fueled by their guilt.  This proceed adds relative value or assets to what the Cynics naturally received through competing in the “unfair” manner.  The process is now innately and hypocritically even more unfair because these Cynics are receiving “fairness” based on an unfairness to others resulting from a concept they do not believe in the first place.

This is now so ingrained in our political mind that right or wrong,  fairness has now become the watchword and income redistribution the measure!

But is life really fair?

Bill Gates said: “Life is not fair; get used to it.”

This is an interesting question, and perhaps it is the most important one to answer before we embark on yet another generation of programs geared to seeking government equalization for perceived unfairness.  One thing we need to consider is that much of our history and knowledge rules against the concept that life is, or could be, fair.

Theory of Evolution sides against life as fair!

Since the theory of evolution (according to the extreme right-wing conservatives) is a liberal theory, you would think that it might provide some basis for the concept that life is fair.  Darwin’s theory, even the modern modified form of it, is predicated on the main concept of survival of the fittest.  Those that do not survive, fail to reproduce as much as others more capable and therefore over time the advantageous characteristics of the fittest survive, and the disadvantageous characteristics of the rest of the species die out.  Clearly this is not a very fair system to those that don’t make it to the next evolutionary step now is it?

Creation Theory sides against life as fair!

So if evolutionary theory is a bastion tenant of the left, let us look at the extreme left-wing view of what is a bastion tenant of conservatives—Creationism.  Once again, this theory also does not support the concept of life as fair. Let us just look at one point of many.  As God dropped the innocent Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden, he set up one thing that they could not do.  They could not eat the apple.  Now is that fair?  Eve didn’t think so!  The non-biblical theory of creation is rife with the inherent conflicts and accomplishments that brought man forward from historic to modern times.  It was man’s ambition, effort, and conquests that defines his steps to modernity.  No where in this theory is the concept of fairness used to illustrate mankind’s gains. In fact in many of the illustrations it was mans innate unfairness that gave one group an advantage over the other.

Big Bang theory sides against life as fair!

OK lets look to pure science. According to the Big Bang Theory, the universe began, perhaps after a great cyclic gravitational contraction, with a large explosion.  Everything that existed prior to the explosion was destroyed and released anew as pure energy.  As the universe cooled all the various forms of matter formed according to what we know of the laws of physics, and the chaos of the explosion became replaced with some relative and random order. So according to this theory you have a massive destruction of something that gradually re-consolidates into something else.  Clearly, this was not very fair for that which got destroyed now was it?

I guess it could be called the ultimate in income redistribution!

No government process yields fairness

The United States, by all external accounts, has one of the fairest judicial processes in the world.  Hundreds of thousands of pages of rules and laws have been written and established with fair justice as the principal goal.  Yet, look at the O.J. Simpson trial, or more recently, the Casey Anthony Trial.  Ask most Americans if the outcome was fair and they will tell you that both of them got away with murder.  Clearly, our own experience shows us that life is not fair and no government can provide fairness.

In an odd way, the system itself recognizes life is not, nor ever will be, fair.  Our form of justice is not as much about fairness as it is equalization of injustices, both perceived and real, by the transfer of some value or asset from the defendant to the plaintiff.  Even things that are clearly recognized as accidental, now include compensation for the victim as part of the “fairness” concept of justice.  In the early 1800s through the mid-1900s, liability for damage due to death from addictive patent medicines rested in the hands of the person who purchased it and chose to take it.  If you used a piece of equipment in the 1840s or 1850s and you lost a finger—well, its a shame you lost the finger, stuff happens you know!

Today, for some, by no means all, such events become a life changing payday.  Our concept of fairness has evolved much over the last century or so.

Point of View

Fairness is clearly just a point of view. The concept means different things to different people, at different times, and in different circumstances.

Aurthur Brook, the president of the American Enterprise Institute,  defines fairness this way:

We are not a perfect opportunity society in the United States. But if we want to approach that ideal, we must define fairness as meritocracy, embrace a system that rewards merit, and work tirelessly for true equal opportunity. The system that makes this possible, of course, is free enterprise. When I work harder or longer hours in the free-enterprise system, I am generally paid more than if I work less in the same job. Investments in my education translate into market rewards. Clever ideas usually garner more rewards than bad ones, as judged not by a politburo, but by citizens in the marketplace.

Others define fairness on some system of compensation for perceived, or real, inequality.  But in such calculations, one persons fairness is another person’s unfairness.

While the goal of Affirmative Action is to offer incentives, subsidies, and other compensating systems to change the future results in favor of those who were viewed to have been historically treated unfairly, what is fair for the recipient is now unfair for some, if not many, of those who now do not get the benefit.  If such systems are compensation for past unfairness, at what point does the balancing cross over to real unfairness in the other direction?  What system is in place to measure and determine the point for the balancing re-equalization to stop?  Initially, such systems may appear fair but they are not universally fair.

Look to the movie “Unforgiven” when Hackman’s character says in his dying breath, “I’m building a house. I don’t deserve it.” and Clint’s character says, “Deserves got nothing to do with it.”

Universal fairness, in the end, is the concept that belies the concept of fairness in the first place.  What may seem fair for one set of people and one circumstance is seldom fair for others, or perhaps for all.  For the sake of argument, let us assume that Theory of Evolution is correct and the continued survival of a species is based on its continuing evolution through the mechanism of survival of the fittest.  If this is true, then our modern healthcare system—that is solving for all the inter-species competition and environmental damage that normally would be spelling death knells for individuals, or seriously impacting their ability to reproduce—is prohibiting this survival of the fittest process from taking place. Therefore, it might be argued, modern healthcare is not innately fair for the species as a whole.  It can also be argued that keeping people alive to an older and older age where their productivity for the benefit of the species becomes much less than what they consume is also innately unfair.  Yet, none of us as humans make this argument, or myriad others that could be made, because we believe we are a special species on this planet that feel and care for others of our own kind.  Now, we also even significantly express care about the other species as well, sometimes to our own fiscal detriment.  Is this well founded enlightenment or is it simply a long term strategy of our own species’ self destruction?

Fair Use, Fair Trade, Fair Employment, Fair Market Value, all use different fundamental concepts or measure of fairness. Often, in the end, fairness adds up to being the political concept of equal treatment for some based on the justifiable unequal treatment of others.

Conclusion

While I am going to be using the President in the following example, I see the same thing from the candidates on the other side of the aisle. Please do not draw the conclusion that I am only finding fault with President Obama. I n fact, I find fault with them all on this point!

For this election, President Obama is now decided to use the main theme (sound byte, talking point, mantra – you pick it) of Fair Shot, Fair Share, Fair Play.  In these moments he contra-poses the hope of fair with the negative of things like the mortgage foreclosure crisis or the stock market collapse, or the “greed” of wall street and the rich corporations.  Without stating it directly, first he imparts the message that we should expect fairness and it can, in fact, be attained.  Secondly, he is building the image that only he is fair and anything else is not fair.  He makes the statement that everyone should be able to buy a home but does not discuss whether or not they should have the requirement to afford the home in the first place.  If they can’t get the loan, for whatever reason then the lender is not fair.  If they buy the home and now the lender wants to collect or repossess the home than the lender is not fair. He uses terms like unscrupulous in these cases to paint a broad picture.

Clearly, some lenders are unscrupulous, just as some people seeking loans are also unscrupulous.  But being a lender does not directly equate to being unscrupulous any more than being a borrower automatically equates to deadbeat.  While one side can quote statistics to show how all the lenders did such-and-so to be unfair to home buyers, conversely the national statistics on upside mortgages and home mortgage defaults leads one to draw the conclusion that a large part of borrowers are deadbeats.  Neither of those assumptions are of course true.

Framing the argument for his re-election in such a lopsided way is indirectly and in some cases directly, instilling in the public that they have a right to own a home regardless.  If they, you know those unscrupulous people, don’t loan you the money or you can’t pay it back it is they, the unscrupulous, that are unfair…

The President in a recent video discussing fairness said, “Congress cannot end the year taking money out of the pockets of working Americans.”  But, in the end, that is what all government fairness programs really do.  They do not provide fairness, they provide unequal treatment for some to provide equal treatment for others, usually based on a specious and arbitrary determination.  When it is the result of a political issue then it is simply unequal treatment for the group that is the numerically the smaller group of voters for the benefit of the larger voting block. This is why our founding fathers were so adamant that we became a republic, not a democracy!

In the President’s case, perhaps it is that he simply believes his system is fair because the Working Americans he favors deserve more fairness that all the rest of us.

As Hamlet said, “…Therein lies the rub: for in that sleep of death we know not what dreams may come…”

But then again, maybe we do!

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The State of Whose Union?

The President Reads the State of the Union Address

I have tried to resist responding to the State of the Union Address last night.  I really have tried!  But, you guessed it, I can’t.  I was so astounded by much of the rhetoric that passed through the President’s lips as unassailable facts I still can’t believe much of it.

As I am want to do, let’s review some real facts for a few minutes….

The President said the State of the Union was getting stronger

Well this really depends on what you choose as your measures and of course how hard you decide to spin them.  Here are some key statistics that were not highlighted in the speech.

Some of the pundits, immediately after the president’s speech, were very quick to remind everyone that President Obama inherited this bad situation.  That’s true, and so have every president since President Lyndon Johnson. in 1964.  The fact that they all have inherited it is not the relevant fact.  It is the fact that every one of them neither fixed it, nor improved it one iota.  In fact here is another little fact.  Everyone of them in some way or another actually contributed to making the situation worse-Republican and Democrat.  All they did was find ways to patch it, give more to those they thought deserved it (meaning would give votes to get it),  printed more money to pay for it, and hoped it didn’t all come apart before they got their golden parachute.  Well it has come apart now, hasn’t it.

“Fairness for all, Responsibility from all”
– President Obama 1/24/2012

Part of the problem I have with last night’s speech is the President stating he is going to make sure there is “fairness” for all.  It is not his wanting for people to have a fair shot that bothers me.  Everyone I know, if asked, would say they want fairness.  But fairness like many other things in life is a frangible and perspective driven concept.  It means different things to different people, and sometimes different things to the same people on different days depending on where they are and whether they are the beneficiary of the supposed fair treatment or not.

I just do not think anyone can give another fairness.  Often, the act of a group, or government, attempting to make something fair takes the form of redistribution or reallocation of something from one group or individual to another.  Look at the controversy surrounding Affirmative Action in Education and the implementation of quotas to make it fair. I am not challenging whether this was a good idea or not,  I am pointing out that in creating a quota to make it “fair” for one person or group, you simply are redirecting the opportunity from another person to this person.  If the person your took it from had nothing to do with the disparity in the first place then they now are being placed in disparity. Even in California, one of the strongholds of humanistic belief and liberal thought, some of our most liberal politicians have recently stated that we all need to get used to disparity.  That after 40 years of public life she now understands disparity must exist ; no mater the cost it cant be eliminated. It seldom works to try to make something fair by treating others unfairly—ask any six year old!

Frankly, if you look at other countries and other systems of government, America is just about as fair as anything could be given human nature in the first place.  I mean really, you think most of Africa is fair?  How about China?  Russia? Saudi Arabia?  Most other places are decidedly less fair than America.  So when people say we have some very deeply built-in unfairness, they usually are speaking in narrow terms.

Historically, if you look at our specific history in a vacuum, we’ve had periods where specific classes, specific races, and specific genders were treated unfairly.  This is very true and not something to be proud of in our newest age of enlightenment.  But once again, the facts are, that while we had these uncomfortable periods of our history, contemporaneously America was still head and shoulders above the rest of the world at the time.  We can always strive to do better , to be better people, to be better to each other, but no government can impose fairness nor can it replace the personal responsibility and character we should all instill in ourselves and our families.

Responsibilities from all

He used the term, “Responsibilities from all”.  The phraseology struck me oddly.  While I suppose it is grammatically correct to say that responsibility comes from somewhere or someone, I am not comfortable with this statement.  After thinking about it this morning, I realize this is because I believe responsibility should be innate in each of us.  That responsibility does not come “from” anywhere.  I feel that responsibility is part of our character and while it may flow from us it does not flow to us.  To try to illustrate this point, let me say that part of my responsibility, as I see it, is to help others.  In fact if I do help others I am being responsible.  I also feel that if I throw a baseball and it bounces and breaks your window, I should be responsible to fix the window. Fault in actions are in some way offset (not excused) by the exercise of responsibility for the fault by, or within, the individual.

I do not feel, however, that if you robbed a liquor store that it becomes my responsibility to pay for it. I assume most feel the same way.  But, I also feel that I am not responsible for any of the third party circumstances that you may have encountered in your life that led you to rob the liquor store.  I worry that the president believes that we are responsible for what others choose to do.  That somehow it is our responsibility to make sure they do not do something harmful or at least find themselves in circumstances that lead them to do something wrong.

In my life,  I have listened to many people justify their bad actions based on some set of circumstances that led them to do what they did.  I have heard things like; I was abused by my parents, my mother was an alcoholic, my tire blew out and because of my crack addiction I did not have enough money to get a cab so I could not get to work. Often, somewhere in each of these excuses became an attempt to transfer the responsibility to me or others because we somehow allowed the parental abuse, the mothers alcoholism, or the existence of crack cocaine– all of which if eliminated from this persons past would have somehow supposedly stopped the bad action in the first place so therefore–ipso facto– it is my fault, or your fault,  they did whatever they did.

I think these are some of the fundamental differences that divide us today.  I think the concept is attractive to take the position that everything that affects me is someone else’s fault or greed. Words like compassion and fair-share sound so good against the backdrop of greed, oppression, poverty and sacrifice.  But frankly, this is not what the fundamental issues we face are about.  It is now about our viability–national and economic.  We have destroyed our economy, and our viability, because we have systematically, over the past 100 years, made decisions for self gratification and personal appeasement of abstract goals that have affected our production, our cost effectiveness and our competitiveness in this new one-world economy.

We used to be the world leader in fisheries, agriculture, clothing, steel, oil, coal, automobiles, aircraft, raw production, basic manufacturing and many others.  But we have made decisions that have altered our ability to be in these industries at all or to be competitive in them.  Child labor laws killed the textile industry in New England, increasing labor costs and environmental laws killed coal, steel, oil and fisheries. Increasing labor costs, over production and now subsidies have effectively killed agriculture.  And overall for the rest the increasing costs in general, including labor costs, taxes, mandated benefits and shrinking labor pool (skilled and unskilled) have killed much of the rest.  Along the way, we have become a nation or middlemen, service providers, who purchase most of what we consume from other countries than we make ourselves.  Each year we bleed cash from our treasury to other nations workers.  Since 1972 this has exceeded $12 trillion.  That 12 trillion dollars more spent in buying stuff from other countries than we have sold to other countries.  This is one huge reason, but by no means the only reason, that we are circling the drain the way we are.

We have abandoned many industries because we felt there was just cause to do so.  Again, I am not saying any of these decisions were good or bad.  You need to make that call for yourself.  But, we have willingly walked away from most of the industries that led us to our short lived prosperity.  As we have embraced the “one-world economy,” we have killed our own production, rapidly and drastically increased our costs, and decided that we no longer can try to influence who goes to college (destined for middle management) and who works in the fields, the factories, and the plants.  In order to feel good, everyone has to go to college.  When we need labor, we relay with a wink, wink — nod-nod on immigration.  Since legal immigration is expensive and takes a long time we have a large illegal immigration problem–and we sit and wonder why!

As we have been indiscriminately printing money since 1974 we have lived in a fantasy land.  It is a wonderful place to be, don’t you see:

  • Everyone goes to college
  • Everyone can own a house
  • Everyone gets a car
  • Everything is fair
  • Everyone is a millionaire
  • Everyone has everything they want
  • No one needs to worry about getting sick
  • No one needs to save – in fact we need to borrow and spend more
  • Someone else will build it
  • Someone else will maintain it and clean it
  • Someone else will pay for it

In this fantasy land, the government will see to it that all the above just happens.  We don’t need to worry or pretty little heads just pay the taxes it will all be fair.

Shrinking Middle Class

The president has brought this up over and over recently.  Our president is a master at using language to infer that the middle class is suffering because of individual greed, because of Wall Street, because of corporations, because of millionaires and billionaires…. The truth of this is that the middle class are suffering because they have lost the value of what they earn disproportionately to everyone else–poor and rich. They are not poor enough to get in on the gravy train that is now the myriad government subsidies that over one-half of the population receive, nor are they rich enough to use investments to hedge the loss of value by playing the inflated earnings game that has been the finance,  investment, and real estate (FIRE) economy game for the past 40 years.  They have been screwed!  One reason the number of the middle class in the population is declining is we are raising the level of eligibility of programs for the poor. And along with that the cost of the additional program subsidies is coming from the middle-class and the rich in the form of taxes and higher costs, the rich just don;t feel it as much because they can invest enough of their money to offset the loss of value. Like the subsidies for industries and the poor, some portion of the new money ends up as liquidity in the stock market because the banks put it there! Can you say Quantitative Easing?

What was not mentioned by the president is equally telling

The Affordable Protection Act, his singularly biggest achievement — if you count it that way, was only mentioned in passing.  His own administration has had to admit that there are many things in the legislation that are either unfordable like CLASS, unworkable like the Medicare M.D. fix and the plan to have the IRS as the reporting agency, or potentially unconstitutional like the insurance mandate.

Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, like many other things are items that this president inherited.  Unlike most they are the biggest, and most insidious, causes of the loss of value to the middle-class and the destruction of our economy.  Once again, I am not making a value judgement on these programs or whether or not they should exist.  They simply have become what many feared at the time of their creation, much larger drains on our economy then was planned for.  Also, since most of the money that was created since 1974 has been needed to pay for these entitlements, along with the accumulating trade deficit, they are collectively the main reason that the money came into being and as such the main reason that the real value of the middle class has declined so drastically.

In the end, you have to ask yourself why the president spent so my time decrying the state of our economy, our industry and our people but then offered as a solution a panacea, of no pain, more money, more taxes, more subsidies, more for the poor, more from the rich, more subsidies for non-profitable industries no plan for increasing domestic primary production, and nothing about solutions for the real problems we face?  Well I guess it really is about re-elections not solutions.

In Closing

While the president may have appeared to be the brunt of my ire in this piece, it really is extended to all members of the full-time-professional-political class.  DNC or GOP the rhetoric and practice of opponent vilification and liberal application of what amounts to noting but wall paper paste needs to stop. Real solutions need to be proposed and vetted in this election process.  As a Mugwump, if a candidate does not start to tell me how they are going to fix the real issue and elucidate exactly what the pain points will be for everyone, then I am not voting for them regardless of the party.

If there ends up being no one; then I may not vote for anyone.  If that happens then it probably won’t matter because it will be too late.