Define “Fair”

Some think the mortgage interest deduction from our income taxes is unfair. After all, says one such,

I can easily construct a situation in which a taxpayer essentially enjoys no [mortgage related] tax benefits whatsoever. How about the single individual or possibly a married couple without children, who make just enough to make ends meet but still cannot save to buy a house? Or possibly, they prefer renting to the onerous commitment of home ownership. There doesn’t appear to be any tax breaks for them.

Although this person offers no definition of “fair” whatsoever, she seems to think that “fair” means everyone gets the same benefit, even though by her own construction, they’re not in the same situation as those who’ve “earned” that benefit. Because, equal outcomes.

One gets this grade on an assignment, another gets that grade, that’s unfair? One gets a first place prize in a contest and another doesn’t, that’s unfair? One earns more money than another, that’s unfair? One has a more fortunate endowment of work ethic, talent, luck, than another, that’s unfair? One made better use of his equal opportunity and so becomes better off than another, that’s unfair? How, exactly?

Of course, this particular question easily could be begged with a proper reform of our tax code, a reform that brings us to a single flat rate with no deductions, credits, etc. What is truly unfair is using our tax code for social and economic engineering and thereby picking winners and losers by government fiat rather than by actual performance and merit.


Keep in mind that the sole purpose of taxes under our Constitution is to fund the government, not to control how free men interact with each other in a free market, not to say, “This is a worthy enterprise, but that is not.”

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