Conservatives take issue with liberals when we argue for fairness in American economic, political, and social life. “Life isn’t fair,” they argue, with more vehemence than I think warranted, but conservatives can get pretty worked up over anything that sounds like socialism, and to them, everything we liberals say sounds like socialism. I think we liberals are partly at fault for this knee-jerk reaction on the part of our conservative friends, because we use the term “fair” too broadly.
We liberals give conservatives the opportunity to construct this straw man by not being precise in what we’re saying. What we mean is that policy distortions that lead to inequality, such as unregulated or under-regulated financial institutions, the near monopoly power of too-big-to-fail, and preferential tax treatment for special interests, are bad for America. They’ve allowed unethical and even criminal enterprise, decimated the middle class, led to shrinking opportunities to realize the “American Dream,” resulted in a deteriorating infrastructure, and decreased overall economic efficiency. Clearly, this is a nuanced treatment of “fairness,” and in today’s political climate, nuance is rare.
|"Corporations are people too, my friend"|