Mitch McConnell & Communists Have The Same Definition Of “Fairness”

They both think that what’s unfair to you depends on what somebody else gets, confusing unfairness with jealousy

DonkeyHoteyGage Skidmore’s Flickr photostream.

By David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

A Young Child’s Idea Of Fairness

Some years ago psychologists performed a study with young children in which they offered them cookies under varying conditions.

In one experiment, Billy was given a choice: he could have two cookies and Johnny would get one, or Billy would get one cookie and Johnny wouldn’t get any.

Most of the time two free cookies sounded like a good deal to Billy, but sometimes the boy who was given the choice felt that it was unfair for Johnny to get a free cookie since Billy was the one who was taking the test.

In those few cases, that particular Billy decided that he would rather get only one cookie if it would keep Johnny from getting any cookies at all.

In short, that Billy would rather punish himself than see Johnny get something for nothing. Jealousy.

In An Adult, This Choice Would Indicate A Selfish, Toxic Personality

In my view, an adult making such a choice would evidence a defective, toxic, mean, selfish, jealous personality. Luckily, the Billies in this experiment have had a long time to outgrow this damaged attitude.

The Capitalist View Of FairnessThe Reference Point Is What You Get

Most people’s definition of fairness is based on their getting what they think they rightfully deserve. For them, fairness has nothing to do with what someone else gets or has.

To a capitalist, fairness means that you got what you were promised and what others got or didn’t get is their problem, not yours.

The Capitalist Reference Point Is Internal

The reference point for this capitalist view of fairness is internal — “Did I get what I deserve?”

This mirrors the old saying: “Worry about what’s in your own wallet. Don’t worry about what’s in some other person’s wallet.”

(No, I’m not saying that different treatment based on status — race, religion, gender, etc. is “fair.”

(It’s not fair because because it’s an irrational reason for different treatment and people can’t change their status. Different treatment based on need or other objective factors is not irrational and those factors can be changed.

(It’s not unfair to you if senior citizens get a discount because, eventually, everyone will get old. It is unfair to black people if only white people get a discount because it’s an irrational, status-based differentiating factor. The reason for the different treatment is what makes it unfair.)

The Communist Reference Point Is External

The reference point for this Billy’s definition of fairness, on the other hand, is external — to the Billy in the experiment, fairness was not dependent on him getting what he deserved, but rather on Johnny not getting what Billy thought Johnny didn’t deserve.

Communists think that being treated fairly is not based on you getting what you were promised, but rather is based on how much you have versus how much others have; that it’s unfair for someone else to have a great deal more than you do, and, conversely, that it’s unfair to others for you to have a great deal more than they do.

McConnell Promotes The Communist Idea Of Fairness

I would have expected right-wing Republicans to support the capitalist interpretation of fairness. Imagine my surprise when Mitch McConnell recently issued a statement espousing the communist interpretation of fairness.

When Joe Biden announced that a portion of student debt would be forgiven, Mitch McConnell said,

“President Biden’s student loan socialism is a slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college, every graduate who paid their debt, and every American who chose a certain career path or volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces in order to avoid taking on debt. This policy is astonishingly unfair.” [emphasis mine]

According to McConnell, forgiving a portion of a graduate’s education loan is an insult to the people who paid in full for their children’s college expenses; that children from families that couldn’t afford to send them to college getting a discount on the cost of their college education is astonishingly unfair to the families who could afford to pay full price for their kids’ education.

Like the communists, McConnell claimed that fairness for these full-price parents is determined by how somebody else is treated not whether they got what they bargained for.

Under McConnell’s view, if on the way home from the supermarket I saw someone outside a food bank putting a box of groceries into his/her car, that that would be a slap in my face and I would have been treated unfairly because I paid full price for my groceries while they got theirs for free.

Do most people think that the parents (or their insurance companies) who paid for their child’s surgery were treated unfairly and should feel insulted every time the Shriners’ Hospitals or St. Jude Hospital provide free medical care to other people’s sick children?

Like Billy’s choice in the cookie experiment, Mitch McConnell has expressed the communist view of fairness, namely, that fairness is external to you and depends not on whether you got what you bargained for but rather if others got something for a lower price than what you paid.

Now, I’m sure Mitch McConnell didn’t realize that he was espousing the communist world view, but what he said is exactly how a communist defines fairness, that

  • It’s unfair to you when other people got a better deal than the one you negotiated, and
  • It’s unfair to you when other people have much more than you have

A Rational View Of Fairness

Let’s look at fairness in a more rational way.

Logically, you’re being treated fairly when you’ve gotten something you deserve or you haven’t lost something you didn’t deserve to lose.

The parents whom McConnell says were slapped in the face by Biden forgiving a portion of other children’s loans knew what it was going to cost them to send their kids to college. They paid the money. Their children graduated. They got what they bargained for.

Whether the college scholarship fund or Bill Gates or a government program paid part of the bill for someone else’s kid to get their degree doesn’t materially affect them. What’s in someone else’s wallet is not their concern.

(I say “materially” because somebody is going to say, “Well, that loan forgiveness program is going to cost those rich families who paid full boat an extra $37 on next year’s tax return.” They’re earning $5,000 a week and you’re complaining that their tax bill went up by $37 or whatever? Don’t waste my time.)

The families who had enough money to pay for their child’s college education aren’t materially affected by the partial forgiveness of some other students’ debt any more than a family that pays for their own groceries is materially affected when the food bank (or the government) gives another family a box of free food.

Jealousy Masquerading As Fairness

This communists’ and McConnell’s definition of fairness is actually about something else entirely. They have confused fairness with envy and they’re both just trying to invent a way to justify envy and jealousy.

What McConnell was actually saying was:

“The families who paid for their kid’s education have a right to envy those families whose children got their tuition at a discount. They have a right to be jealous that they didn’t get the same discount on their kid’s college education that they could afford to pay for than the poor families got on their children’s education that they couldn’t afford to pay for.”

McConnell’s complaint is like a communist saying, “I have a right to be jealous of those rich people who have so much money while I have so little.”

The person who says, “If someone else who has less money than I have gets something that I didn’t get, then that’s unfair to me” is really saying, “If someone else gets something that I didn’t get then I have a right to be jealous of them.”

Yes, I suppose you do, but that has nothing to do with fairness.

Biden’s partial loan forgiveness program isn’t socialism as McConnell claimed.

It’s McConnell who’s actually promoting the communist world view.

— David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

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David Grace

David Grace


Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.