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Fair game

Mar 11, 2008, 04:01 AM
Authors : Daniel
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Post date : Mar 11, 2008, 04:01 AM
If there's one thing that should preclude someone from making a complaint its them describing their grievance as 'unfair' or 'not fair'.
By using either phrase, a person diminishes their argument to the level of playground whinging.
In his book Big Babies, Or: Why Can't We Just Grow Up?, Michael Bywater warns of the creeping infantilisation of British adults.
That is, we're all increasingly acting like kids.
Mr Bywater argues that by claiming a situation isn't 'fair', a grown up is behaving immaturely because only young children expect the world to be 'fair'.
They think the universe centres on them and that it should be exactly how they want it.
But life is chaotic, and certainly not always 'fair'.
And that's why I often cringe when I hear otherwise intelligent people complain of unfairness - especially if they do it in the public arena.
Take, for example, this week's story that mortgage brokerage John Charcol has described the UK's stamp duty system as 'hugely unfair'.
One imagines an entire company of smartly dressed finance professionals stamping their feet and crying while their noses run.
Then there's Scottish first minister Alex Salmond and Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen railing against 'unfair' council tax.
And these are the sort of people for whom we vote?
Of course, when an adult claims 'it's not fair', he or she usually means: 'It's not in my interests (nor in those of the people I represent)'.
If they want to be taken seriously they should use words such as 'inequitable', 'unjustifiable', 'unwarranted' or even 'discriminatory'.
(Such descriptions would have the added bonus of making the complainer appear more articulate.)
What really rankles about the above two examples is the implied belief by the speakers that taxes can be somehow 'fair' for all.
Did anyone of any note ever, in all seriousness, claim they were?
Each government has its own idea of what tax system might work for the majority of people, yes.
But fair for all?
No way!

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