By Jim Bowman
James C. Bennett and Oak Parker Michael J. Lotus on fairness in America, from their America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century -- Why America's Greatest Days Are Yet to Come:
State of the question:
Americans . . . expect others to work and earn what they get, and to be paid what they have earned. They think that the rewards of life should be granted to those who have earned them in an open, competitive process, while recognizing that there is a certain amount of luck involved.
Crony capitalism, where the winners routinely get picked based on political clout, is a system that contradicts and degrades all of these values, and seeing it in operation angers many Americans.
The "Chicago way," where clout and connections determine all the important outcomes, has not been America's way in most places, and we don't want it to be.
When Americans perceive that the game is rigged, or that they have played by the rules but have not been treated fairly, they are angered by it and they want it corrected. The perception of a rigged game, and a lack of fairness, is a large part of what caused the rise of the American welfare state, as we will discuss later on, when we talk about America 2.0.
The growing awareness that American life is indeed more and more a rigged game offends our [earlier argued] "inegalitarian" spirit. Success is seen, all too often correctly, as unfair and not based on adding anything of value.
How did this happen?
As we will discuss, much of the corruption of our current system is the perverse result of the regulatory state we have built. Started with good intentions, this machinery has grown ever more powerful, and has at the same time been captured by private interests to create monopolistic and anticompetitive sources of wealth.
What to do?
Any discussion of "more" or "less" regulation is meaningless. Instead, we need to get into the weeds and ask "which" regulation and "who" benefits from it and "what" its cost will be. Unfortunately, this is hard work and few people have the incentive to do it unless they have a large financial interest in shaping the rules of the game. The devil is in the details, and the details are hard to discover.
What to expect:
As a result, powerful and wealthy and well-connected people who did not earn what they have in a fair and open way will get little respect, no deference, and increasingly angry opposition from the American people – once the American people take notice of them.
I saw some of this angry opposition in the sustained outburst that greeted Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Camille Lilly in September, in a Galewood church, for which see "Hot time in Galewood for Harmon and Lilly: A town hall meeting gets interesting."