Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Lessons in the United States of Fairness
Special to the Daily
Little Allie worked very hard at selling Girl Scout Cookies. She was cute, energetic, dedicated and she had a fairly large circle of family and friends so she met with some success. Then the education started.
After the sales campaign was over and the group had received their pennies-on-the-dollar return for their hard work, one of the leaders addressed the group. “What shall we do with the money?” was her question, and Allie had a ready answer. “Let’s go camping!” she said. Being outdoors. Running and shrieking at the top of her lungs. Getting dirty. Throwing stuff in streams, possibly including one’s self. Such are the enthusiasms of a 5-year-old. The response was another blow in Allie’s introduction to modern America.
“I’m sorry, sweetie; we can’t do that. Not everyone in the group could afford it.” Welcome to the lunacy that is the United States of Fairness.
When did our country embrace success by the convoy system, with opportunities widening only at the pace of the least acute, least energetic, least ambitious among us? I know; this and other atrocities against individual success are perpetrated daily by self-proclaimed Progressives in the name of compassion for the less well-off. The problem is, their putative compassion seems to translate as “I do not like that some have more than others, therefore I will allow use of only what the least among us has.”
This flies in the face of the American experience. From the beginning, people have not only fled here to escape oppressions, they have flocked here to enjoy the opportunity to be all they could be, given their talents and ambitions, and to freely enjoy the fruits of their labor. This freedom created in us the most productive, inventive, industrious, prosperous wealthy and generous nation in history. Yes, some citizens had more than average; some had less. Both groups recognized that their situations were temporary as the latter strove to become the former and the entire nation benefitted from this competition.
These attitudes, now widely seen as relics of less enlightened times, brought us from an isolated group of small states clinging to the Atlantic seaboard to a continent-spanning nation that created almost a third of the entire world’s wealth annually, in only 175 years — an historical eyeblink. Along the way we helped win two of the most destructive wars mankind has ever seen and, when the second was over, we rebuilt our former enemies, helping them become our friends and economic competitors. It was who we were. Then something, somewhere, changed.
In some quarters, cosseted by the creature comforts that are modern America, the idea grew that being wealthy was somehow despicable. That the wealthy were so because they cheated. They robbed. That their wealth was the reason others were poor, as if Bill Gates had legions of hired goons on patrol, beating money out of us poor average folks so he could dine on quail tongues.
This is an idea so loopy it could only have come from the wilder shores of the Academy; from people who have never run an excavator or met a payroll or worried about paying back a business loan.
Bill Gates doesn’t need hired goons. Year after year, his company churns out new products that people buy because, well … they’re real value for money. Neither does Mark Zuckerberg or Sir Richard Branson or Elon Musk or a bunch of others. But the myth persists, and its persistence invites mischief — of which we have seen much recently.
What is the inevitable result of abandoning activities because not everyone is capable of doing them? Of refusing to acknowledge great achievement, because doing so might make the less accomplished feel uncomfortable? Of making success villainous? We know the answer, although some are loath to admit it: we will get less and less of what made this nation great.
History offers ample examples of this, but those who embrace the doctrine of false fairness ignore these lessons, convinced that since they are ever so much better and smarter, this time the results will be different.
But they won’t be. If there is punishment, not praise for accomplishment; if engagement regardless of result is all that counts; if diligence and sloth bring the same reward; then we will truly be lost. The world in which little Allie will grow up will be filled with mediocrity and poverty. It’s a world in which Progressives should delight: we will all have achieved the equality of torpid misery.
But the rest of us should see it for the simple-minded mirage it is, and act accordingly.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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