Delivering “fairness”.

I was prompted to write this by reading the Government’s Impact Assessment of the Household Benefit Cap.

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/IA12-003.pdf

Under ‘Reasons for Change in Policy’, one of the bullet points (top of p6) is:

– deliver fairness to the taxpayer in work

This is a bogus policy justification. Fairness, like justice, can’t be applied to only one section of the population.

‘Fairness’ as perceived by one person, which is achieved by ‘unfairness’ inflicted on another is not fairness at all.

One of the most common cries I hear from the privileged, who face some aspect of their privilege being dismantled, is “that’s not fair”. What they really mean (what I really mean, because I forget myself and say it sometimes too) is “I liked what I had; I liked my advantages; I didn’t mind that you were disadvantaged; don’t take my stuff away from me”.

A see-saw with one end high and one end low is a symbol of imbalance, of advantage vs disadvantage. It is not possible to bring the low end of the see-saw up without bringing the high end of the see-saw down.

Fairness involves all parts of the see-saw, just as justice demands both sides of the scales.

It is not possible to ‘deliver fairness’ to one group only.

That’s just not fair.

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One thought on “Delivering “fairness”.

  1. Yes! Yes! I keep seeing the word "fair" used when people seem to think someone else is getting more than them regarding help or "benefits". ….."I don’t get given money by the government to go to work in a taxi" …Well maybe that’s because you have a car, are able to drive & are paid enough to be able to run it. When you speak about treating your children equally, you don’t mean treating them the same, you mean doing whatever is needed to give them a level playing field, or what is appropriate for them. When a younger child complains that it’s "not fair" that an older brother or sister stays up later, you don;’t move their bedtime, you point out that the sibling is older & they will have a later bed-time when they are older. Lots of people are behaving like children, don’t give in, tell them to grow up & think about what "fair" really means

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