LETTER: 'Fair' is in the eye of the beholder

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

To the Editor:

It isn't fair!

Just what is fair? Generally, we say something isn't fair when we describe a situation wherein we are displeased with the outcome. As a child would say “my best friend has a new jacket, and you won't buy one for me. That isn't fair!"

What “fair” means might depend on whether we are getting or giving. Sally works very hard in school and does her homework. Jack loves sports and rarely studies. The teacher decides to be more fair in grading the students. Instead of giving each student the grade he or she earned, a new plan is devised. All grades will be based on the “average” grade made by the entire class. Sally does not get the “A” she earned, and Jack gets a “C” rather than the “F” he would have been given. Jack says, “Wow, this new plan is really fair.” However, Sally says, “This is not fair. I worked very hard for that grade and should have been given an ‘A.’” Same situation, different opinions of the outcome.

A governing entity must collect money from the folks it governs in order to provide the basic services for which it was designed. Example — protection from enemies, infrastructure to support transportation and regulations to ensure public health. We need a plan by which all the governed people can “pay” to live in this make-believe land.

An initial idea would be to ask every citizen to pay the same amount since they will all receive equal services. That seems to be a fair idea. Here is a better idea; we will require each person living in this make-believe land to pay a tax based on how much money they earn. After all, why should a poor person have to pay the same as a rich person for the same service provided to all citizens? It's only “fair” that if you study, learn new skills, work hard and are frugal with your finances, you should pay much more then the poor person who would rather play then work.

To make the system even more “fair,” the governing entity will provide the poor with food, health care, education, HDTV and communication devices to just make the system even more “fair.”

Wait a minute, this isn't a make-believe land, it's the United States of America! If only we had a fair tax system!

Walt Doelp

Lee County