Jan Losh: Fair … it happens once a year
A friend’s ex-husband once said, “Fair? Happens in Pueblo once a year.” Soon the State Fair may be the only “fair” that remains.
The idea of fair, as in “free from dishonesty, bias or injustice,” is the pea in the con man’s shell game: now you see it; now you don’t. As it vanishes, we all lose.
The last verse in the Old Testament book of Judges closes an unstable period of Hebrew history: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Unfortunately, moving forward with more formal government (not God’s design) in selecting the first of many kings didn’t improve the situation. Too often individual integrity was still lacking, frequently in the kings themselves.
It’s the same today.
I know a young woman who just became a lawfully naturalized U.S. citizen. After an arduous process, she proclaimed herself no longer a “wetback” (her words, not mine). She never fell under the crude definition of that derogatory term. She came here legally, maintained legal status throughout her quest for citizenship, yet felt compelled to distance herself from that slur. It hardly seems fair for her to go to such lengths when amnesty may be imminent.
As an HR professional, I have worked with organizations employing legal and illegal immigrant workers. I was to ensure that all workers were legal. When legal workers informed me of illegal workers from the same native country, their resentment was intense. Another legal worker needed assistance: others (not employees) with ethnically similar surnames were illegally using his Social Security number. In both instances, it just wasn’t fair.
Not unlike those earning an honest living being forced to bear the financial burden of the irresponsible and ethically challenged. Google “credit card debt relief” and you’ll discover 25,600,000 results offering services. But you have to be in debt deep enough or they can’t help (Hint: don’t stop charging until you reach at least $10,000.) How about TV commercials where people owe thousands in taxes and settle for pennies on the dollar?
Recently there was a charge on my debit card for $702. Not my charge. I called the receiver of those funds, but they wouldn’t talk to me because I couldn’t verify the data used to set up the account. When I called my bank they asked if I would be willing to press charges if the perpetrator is identified (such behavior is against the law).
There’s a better way: run up charges on your own card and then just don’t pay it. The rest of us will pick up the tab eventually.
Don’t misunderstand me. There are times when people legitimately need a helping hand. And there should be and are remedies for those situations. Not so with AIG and countless others. It baffles me why we demand accountability in education when we don’t require it anywhere else. Talk about mixed messages to our young people.
Don’t want to be here legally? Can’t make adequately obscene amounts of money ethically? Can’t pay the bills for all your toys? Forget about it!
But what if you choose to be law-abiding, ethical and responsible? Brace yourself. Your reward is to pay for those who aren’t. It’s not fair. Personal integrity trumping entitlement? Genuine accountability? The Bible assures us “everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God.” Now that’s fair, with or without a trip to Pueblo.
Jan Losh is a human resources consultant based in Dillon. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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