Saturday, December 26, 2015

It's Not About Fairness, It's About Knowing the Rules

The following bit of dialogue from a Dennis the Menace movie reinforces the title of this post:

(Note, Dennis has just broken Mr. Wilson’s window with a rock and slingshot and his parents are being brought up to speed while Dennis sits nearby pretending innocence.  After Mr. Wilson finished his rant and closed the door, the conversation began.)


Dennis’ Mother:  Dennis, how could you?

Dennis:  How could I what?

Dennis’ Mother:  Don’t you play innocent you man.  You know what you did.

Dennis:  What mom?

Dennis’ Mother:  Do you have a sling shot?

Dennis:  I’m not sure.

Dennis’ Father (interjecting):  Give me the the slingshot!

(Dennis sheepishly and silently hands over the slingshot)

Dennis Father:  Now go upstairs to your room and stand in the corner.

Dennis (still sitting):  Aw, man.

Dennis Father:  Just go, young man!

Dennis (standing but not yet moving towards the stairs):  How long to I have to stay there.

Dennis’ Father (pausing to think before handing down the mandate):  Until you're sorry!

Dennis:  Oh, good.  I’m sorry now.


Dennis just wanted to know the rules, so he would understand how to play the game, or, if you want to take a more sinister view of Dennis' intentions, he wanted to know the rules so he could take advantage of them.

With that as background, see below a few comments from some of our esteemed leaders on the topic of rules: 

Hillary Clinton:  "The maneuvers powerful corporations are using to game the system and leave everyday taxpayers holding the bag are just offensive. Inversions by Pfizer and other companies, plus related loopholes, will cost American taxpayers more than $80 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. That's money we should be investing here at home."

Barack Obama:  “Spending cuts must be balanced with more reforms to our tax code. The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn’t be able to take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans.”

Elizabeth Warren:  "Powerful corporations, rich people, have figured out that if you can bend the government to help you just a little bit, it’s a tremendous payoff."  

Bernie Sanders:  “I think it is clear to anyone who has taken a look at this situation that the rules regarding our international financial system today are rigged in favor of the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of everyone else. ‘


Unlike the politicians mentioned above, Dennis didn't make any rules.  He asked what they were so he would know how to play the game.  That didn't make him evil, or greedy, or unpatriotic.  It made him more able to use the rules to optimize his circumstances.  It made him smart.  

Who else but a politician would argue against an individual or a corporation being smart?  Dennis wouldn't.  I would't.  Would you?


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