ON-Lion Letter
President Barack Obama has declared that the standard by which all policies and policy outcomes are judged is fairness.  "We've sought to ensure that every citizen can count on some basic measure of security," he said earlier this year.  "We do this because we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any moment, might face hard times, might face bad luck, might face a crippling illness or a layoff."

And that, Obama says, is why we have a social safety net. He says that returning to a standard of fairness where anyone can get ahead through hard work is the "issue of our time."  And perhaps it is.

Encounter Books' new Who's the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth About Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America, by Stephen Moore, explores what it means for our economic system and our economic results to be "fair."

Does it mean that everyone has a fair shot?  Does it mean that everyone gets the same amount of everything?  Does it mean the government can assert the authority to forcibly take from the successful and give to the poor?  Is government supposed to be like Robin Hood determining who gets what?  Or should the market decide that?

Moore's surprising answer:  nations with free-market systems that allow people to get ahead based on their own merit and achievement are the fairest of them all.

Moore is an editorial-board member and senior economics writer at The Wall Street Journal.

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit organization that is substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.
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