Justice and Fairness
A current television program on BBC4 on justice and fairness started by finding out from the general public what fairness is. Needless to say, there were varying opinions of the definition.
Politicians too seemed to have different views of what they meant by fairness, a word which was used in many political campaigns in the run-up to the previous general elections in the United Kingdom. The BBC4 quotes David Cameroon as saying, “fairness is giving people what they deserve.”
This would appear to be a “politically correct” definition; for the question arises whether people are being given/getting what they deserve.
In any case who is to decide what a person deserves? How much is deserved and in what measure? Looking at the wages of the four people referred to in the program, the lowest paid person, the care worker, had a wage barely enough for a decent living, while a footballer, in what is termed entertainment industry, earned millions in a year.
The argument was that people are prepared to pay a lot of money for entertainment and leisure, hence the high wages for those providing the service – and not many can perform the special skill, whereas provision of care could be done by anyone. However a look at the value added showed that the carer provides a vital life-saving service and the other person’s service is purely for leisure. A further argument for the disparity in wages was that of the economics law of supply and demand. It was argued that there was greater demand for entertainment and fewer people with the special skills, hence the higher payment for them.
It would appear, looking at the example above, that the political view of giving people what they deserve presents a real challenge in the prevailing state of affairs (the real world?). Surely a carer deserves more than a mere-existence life? Surely a footballer does not deserve the millions a year? It does not seem to be a simple matter of taking from one to pay the other, nor is the status quo a justified system either. The question of what is just and fair, though very noble, in practice seems to be a mere ideal in the current socio/economic/political climate that humankind have designed for themselves (or have they?)