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President Obama likes to use the word "fair" to describe his redistributionist economic policies. But there is nothing "fair" about his push for higher taxes and more taxpayer funded bailouts. Forcibly taking away rightfully earned money from one person to give to another is simply not fair. Individuals should be free to spend and donate their own money as they please without government coercion.
Please see below for an excellent speech by Senator John Kyl (R-Ariz.) on this very topic:
"Mr. President, President Obama has ignited a national debate about the meaning of fairness and American values. In his campaign narrative, ``fairness'' means greater redistribution of income by the Federal Government, and expanding government control over the economy represents what he calls a ``renewal of American values.'' He argues that income inequality is the ``defining issue of our time''--his words--and that it prevents many Americans from enjoying their right to pursue happiness.
While the President cloaks his rhetoric in the language of liberty--and often misconstrues quotations from Presidents Lincoln and Reagan in the process--his interpretations of key American concepts and values are shallow, materialistic, and distortive of the true American dream.
We don't need more government interventionist and redistributionist policies, which reduce freedom, in order to achieve greater measures of fairness and to pursue happiness. Having the government arbitrarily decide how much money should be taken from person A and given to person B is not fair in any sense of the word, nor does it make Americans happier. Indeed, even though America has become a much wealthier country during the last few decades and average income is higher, studies show that happiness levels have remained unchanged. In 1972, for example, 30 percent of Americans described themselves as happy. In 2004, 31 percent of Americans described themselves that way. That is because, contrary to what President Obama suggests, the key determinant of lasting happiness and satisfaction is not income; rather, it is what American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks calls ``earned success.'' People are happiest when they have earned their income, whatever the level. When the government tries to take all of the trouble out of life by taking care of our every need, it makes earned success that much harder to achieve.
In his 2010 book ``The Battle,'' Brooks describes the connection between earned success and happiness:
Earned success gives people a sense of meaning about their lives. And meaning also is key to human flourishing. It reassures us that what we do in life is of significance and value, for ourselves and those around us. To truly flourish, we need to know that the ways in which we occupy our waking hours are not based on mere pursuit of pleasure or money or any other superficial goal. We need to know that our endeavors have a deeper purpose.
Earned success is attained not simply through one's vocation but also through raising children, donating time to charitable or religious causes, and cultivating strong relationships with friends and family. That is why successful parents and more religious people tend to be very happy.
The earned success that comes from doing a job also explains why self-made millionaires and billionaires continue to work hard after they have earned their fortunes. These people are driven by the satisfaction that comes from creating, innovating, and solving problems. In many cases, they are making products or providing services that improve our quality of life. They are not content merely to rest on their laurels and enjoy their wealth; they want to continue experiencing the pride and satisfaction that comes from earned success.
The importance of earned success also explains why people who win the lottery usually wind up depressed when they discover that the excitement of being rich and buying things wears off fast. The same is true of recipients of other sources of unearned income. Studies show that welfare programs don't make people happier. We need them to help some people to subsist, but they don't yield true happiness or satisfaction because the money is not earned.
If earned success is the path to happiness, public policies should be geared toward promoting opportunity and freedom for everyone. No economic system does more to promote earned success and freedom than free market capitalism. As social scientist Charles Murray writes in his new book, ``Coming Apart'':
All the good things in life ..... require freedom in the only way that freedom is meaningful: freedom to act in all arenas of life, coupled with responsibility for the consequences for those actions.
In a true free market system, everyone is guaranteed equal rights and opportunities under the law, all individuals and institutions play by the same rules, and the government acts primarily as a neutral umpire, not a redistributor of income or a venture capitalist. Property rights are upheld, contracts are enforced, and hard work is rewarded. As Brooks points out, free enterprise is the only economic system that addresses the root causes of poverty by enlarging the economic pie rather than allowing government officials and bureaucrats to decide how to slice the existing one.
The President's concept of fairness is different from what most believe. I recently read an anecdote that helps illustrate the fundamental disagreement about the difference between ``fair'' and ``earned.'' Two siblings are fighting about who gets the last cookie. The brother says he should get it because his sister has already had two and that is not fair. The sister responds that she helped make the cookies, so she earned it. The brother believes it is fair to equalize rewards, regardless of effort. The sister beliefs in meritocratic fairness--that forced equality is unfair. Those of us who believe in the ultimate fairness of the free market subscribe to the sister's view of meritocratic fairness. She earned it.
Free market capitalism is the most fair system in the world--and the most moral. It is premised on voluntary transactions that make both sides happy by meeting their needs. Unfortunately, the past few years have shown us what unfair economic policies look like.
When the government picks winners and losers in the marketplace, it is being unfair. When it rewards certain companies or industries for ideological reasons while effectively punishing and demonizing others, it is being unfair. That is crony capitalism. When it shapes a corporate bailout to favor organized labor over secured debtholders, as the Obama administration did in the Chrysler bailout, it is being unfair. When it plays venture capitalist and gives a taxpayer-funded $545 million loan guarantee to a doomed company such as Solyndra, it is being unfair. When it makes the Tax Code even more complex and even more tilted in favor of special interests, it is being unfair. When it adopts financial regulations that institutionalize ``too big to fail,'' putting taxpayers on the hook, it is being unfair. I could go on, but you get the point. Does anyone really think America's economic system is ``fairer'' today than in January 2009?
Is it fair that, after the first 3 years of the Obama administration, the poor are poorer, the poverty rate is rising, the middle class is losing income, and 5.5 million fewer Americans have jobs to do than in 2007? Is it fair that the three counties with the highest median family income happen to be located in the Washington, DC, area? Finally, is it fair that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans are constantly being attacked by the President even though they now pay nearly 40 percent of all Federal income taxes and the richest 10 percent pay two-thirds of all Federal taxes? These are some of the questions Stephen Moore recently posed in the Wall Street Journal.
If the President wants to continue claiming that his policies are fostering economic ``fairness'' and ignoring the virtues of the free enterprise system, then let the debate begin."