Toward Fairness — Some Modest Proposals
Helpfully offered to President Obama by Bob Gale, the co-writer of Back to the Future.
April 19, 2012 - 12:11 am
Lately, President Obama has been talking a lot about “fairness.” He wants to make our society more “fair.” I was raised a bit differently than the president, so I’ve been struggling with this concept. My parents always told me that in life, as in poker, I had to play the cards I was dealt. Whenever I complained that something was unfair, my parents would respond, “Whoever said life was fair?” This concept — that life itself was unfair — was even part of my religious upbringing. The 10th Commandment says, “Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor’s.” Obviously, if everyone had exactly the same stuff, there would be no reason to covet anything, and thus no point in having such a commandment. So even God recognized that life was unfair.
But here’s the president saying he wants to make life more fair. So I, as a patriotic American, would like to offer some suggestions toward attaining that goal.
I know the president is a big basketball fan, so let’s look at that. NBA players make millions of dollars, but in order to excel in the game, you basically have to be tall. Really tall. Like 6′ 6″ tall. Is it fair that some people are born so tall they have this incredible advantage? I mean, seriously, it’s not my fault that I’m only 5’9,” is it? Sure, God says I’m not supposed to covet my neighbor’s height, and I wouldn’t do that, except that a guy who’s 6’10″ can make jillions of dollars playing basketball, and I can’t. Is that fair? Is it fair to actually have an institution that discriminates against short people, completely shutting them out of a potential career? Of course not. Now, certainly we could make basketball illegal, and that would solve the problem immediately, but the president likes basketball so he’s not going to do that. So I suggest a plan whereby NBA players aren’t allowed to make more than $50k a year. Then shorter folks wouldn’t feel discriminated against in having a high-paying job market denied to us. Surely, that would be fair.
The president went to Harvard. That’s a very elite school. A degree from Harvard opens a lot of doors that aren’t available to people who haven’t gone there. Is that fair? I don’t think so. A lot of perfectly intelligent people would like to go there, but either they can’t afford it, or they can’t get in, so they become very disappointed when they’re rejected. That doesn’t sound fair to me. I say we should abolish Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and all the elite universities. After all, if no one could go there, then no one would ever be disappointed that they couldn’t go there. Sure, it’d be sad to close those revered institutions, but I’m sure their employees would understand that losing their jobs was a noble sacrifice to ensure a fair society. Then again, with unemployment skyrocketing, maybe that’s not a good idea. Maybe a better solution would be to simply rename every college and university in America “Harvard.” Then everyone could go there! Only in America, right? How’s that for fairness?
The other night, my wife and I were watching a rerun of the classic film Gilda. As Rita Hayworth did her sultry number “Put the Blame on Mame,” my wife said, “It should be illegal for any woman to be that beautiful.” (She’s also said that about Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie, and most of the women in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.) Now, as a red-blooded American male, I’m not in favor of banning Rita Hayworth movies or the SI Swimsuit Edition, but my wife is right: it is unfair that some women can be that much more beautiful than others. I think most women would agree. Let’s face it, unequal beauty has been a serious women’s issue since the days of Snow White. So as much as I hate to suggest it, the president can do something about this unfairness: create National Disfigurement Clinics. When a girl turns 17, she’ll be given a beauty rating by a government board. If she’s too beautiful, she’ll be sent to a clinic where she’ll have a limb amputated, or have acid thrown in her face, or receive 3rd degree burns, just to equalize things for the girls who aren’t as beautiful. What could be more fair?
And finally, what about my parents’ poker analogy, that I had to “play the cards I was dealt”? It’s true that with an honest, random shuffle, everyone at the poker table has an equal chance of getting a good hand. But if I get dealt four kings, and no one else even gets a pair, is that really fair? Of course not. So the president should propose a law that all decks of cards must contain only the Seven of Diamonds. (Seven is the average value of the cards in a deck, and everyone likes diamonds.) Consider Gin Rummy with a deck like this. Haven’t we all wanted to be dealt Gin? Now we will — every time! And think of Blackjack: you’re dealt a 14, you say “hit me,” and…21! Finally, imagine the joy of sitting down at that poker table and getting dealt 5-of-a-kind! Not only that, you’d know exactly what your opponents had! True, the betting wouldn’t be all that interesting, but that’s a small price to pay for perfect, total fairness. Everybody wins, nobody loses. Cheating would become a thing of the past. Okay, so the Las Vegas casinos would close down, and the World Series of Poker would be canceled, and no one would ever play cards again because it would be completely boring. But it would be fair. And that’s what’s really important. Isn’t it?