What Is Fair?

03 Apr

Is it fair to level the playing field of a free market? Rawls says yes to an extreme. I say: extremes are intangible and wind up hurting more than helping in almost every case. Rawls believes society at large can reach a point where redistributing the greatest amount of resources to the least advantaged people while maintaing an (at least semi) efficient system is an ideal to strive for. I object to this premise. I would argue it is more important to operate most efficiently while helping the least advantaged as much as possible in a manner that would not discourage accumulation of wealth.

I think the Nash point on Rawls’ OP curve is perhaps the best option to maintain a fully functioning society while helping out people to a reasonable degree. By forcing people give up potential for commonwealth, everyone is hurt. (cash) Incentives to prosper are the paramount driving force in society, when you remove these incentives innovation takes a huge blow. Sure, innovation can occur, but in a manner that is inefficient. I argue that by keeping the incentives in place, innovation that benefits everyone can happen in the most efficient manner. If say a biomedical technology company has an incentive to produce medical equipment that can help millions of people, rich and poor, than the technology will be produced faster and help more people sooner if one had something ($$$$) to gain. That is: statistically more people will benefit from these incentives than would otherwise by devoting those resources (essentially the cash incentives that drive innovation) to the least advantaged that will not have the ability to create those innovations in the present time.

The American dream is one of accumulating wealth in a society that fosters incentives that drive a society produce. America no longer produces the goods that it once did, as far as services, America produces roughly 90% of the world’s intellectual property. This is not a coincidence. Theoretically, while we dump off the less desirable jobs to other countries (production of goods) those jobs are replaced by the more desirable positions (services). A free market can provide the incentives that drive society, everyone benefits, even the least advantaged. Of course restrictions must be in place to prevent monopolies, these restrictions are in place to ensure that reasonable competition can exist that allows fostering societal growth. I am not advocating an unrestricted free market system, rather one that acknowledges varying socioeconomic groups, and is ok with disparities as long as it is theoretically possible to overcome structural bounds.


Posted by on April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “What Is Fair?

  1. andrewpoli275

    April 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Patrick, I agree with you 110%. We definitely don’t want to help the disadvantaged to the point that it hurts innovation and the accumulation of wealth. We do not want to discourage people away from trying to make as much money as possible; this is essential to a prosperous economy. I agree the Nash point on Rawls’ curve is the idea point to have your society sit on.

  2. chan6435

    April 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Patrick, I think the point Rawls is trying to make is that society needs to provide for those underprivllaged citizens without hurting innovation and hurting the uperclass. It is not saying give everything to charity it is saying that everyone needs to help contribute to keeping society free so that we can enjoy its benefits. This does not mean that innovation is killled, the desire to make money still exists; but, what Rawls is discouraging is the accumulation of wealth at the cost that others are not able to enjoy free society’s benefits.

    As for exporting the less desireable jobs around the world. I think that Rawls would say that we have a duty to export money to those countries that are not free, to encourage the process to bring benefits to others.

  3. americansheepdog

    April 5, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I agree Patrick! The society benefits more from the Nash point. You know, another interesting point to bring up along with this is the money that is given by some of the wealthiest to charity. (Obviously not every wealthy individual, but there are strong numbers that do) Take Bill Gates as an example. Aside from the charities he has set up and donations he has already made, most of his money will go to charities upon his death. We even see the effects of wealthy donation right here at St. Thomas! Look at the millions of dollars in donation we receive each year. I wonder if this actually helps us more than taxing them more? After all, if they have less money, they also have less money to donate.


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