The Fairness Test

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The Fairness Test is the first of many tools that will be provided by the Fairness Coalition to help ordinary Americans understand whether politicians are acting in good faith. This test can be applied to any position, party or ideology. The ultimate goal is to help the electorate decide issues for themselves rather than being dependent on confusing rhetoric or deliberate propaganda.

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The Fairness Test

  1. 2. An Introduction Fairness can be subjective – but it also appeals to common sense – so it can be tested . We test whether situations are fair in our everyday lives constantly, yet we are not applying those tests as often when judging political positions or actions. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because we feel our evaluations no longer matter – that no one is paying is attention - or perhaps it’s because politicians do everything they can to avoid having their positions and actions tested. In the past, we relied on the media to help perform this role – but year by year they have slowly shifted from impartial observers to paid advocates.
  2. 3. Politics is more than a popularity contest – it is the mechanism which defines the nature of our society. The ability to measure the truth and Fairness of political positions and action is the key towards ensuring that politics remains honest and accountable to us.
  3. 4. What is the Fairness Test <ul><li>This Fairness Test is one of many metrics we will develop in order to help you decipher the sometimes inane world of political discourse – it is designed to measure whether a specific political position would be deemed by most people to be Fair or Unfair. </li></ul><ul><li>The test is also designed to help you uncover the motives and implications of any given position or policy. It can applied to either party and any political philosophy. The test consists of 10 simple questions. </li></ul><ul><li>The main goal of the test is not to shape your opinion, but rather to give you the tools so that you can form your own opinion. </li></ul>
  4. 5. Question 1 <ul><li>Would you vote for it, did you vote for it ? </li></ul><ul><li>How often have you run into this scenario – a politician goes into an election with a platform based mostly on high level rhetoric, gets elected and then surprises you with their actual policy agenda ? </li></ul><ul><li>Would you have voted for them if you had known what they really had in mind ? If a politician is deliberately trying to hide or obscure their true agenda, chances are it’s unfair. The 1 st question you should ask yourself about any position is would you have voted for it given the chance? </li></ul>
  5. 6. Question 2 <ul><li>Who is advocating the position and why? </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes this is clear – sometimes it isn’t. For example, it has been common practice for powerful interests to use front groups to advocate a position on their behalf – this is done to make it look as though the position has grass roots support. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing who came up with the idea and why they came up with it can sometimes tells you the whole story of what that position really represents. Other times it will be one piece of evidence in a larger puzzle. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Question 3 <ul><li>Does it make any sense ? </li></ul><ul><li>This may sound a little silly at first, but then again, this is politics we’re talking about. </li></ul><ul><li>There are many political positions which have little logical consistency in them. Worse, there are many positions which are made so obtuse or complex that it becomes almost impossible to unravel them. </li></ul><ul><li>Any position that has obvious logical flaws or is designed to confuse you is likely to be unfair. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Patriotism starts with the knowledge that the United States is the sum of its people – we’re not just fighting for ideals – we’re fighting for our own rights and freedoms which those ideals serve.
  8. 9. Question 4 <ul><li>Are the promoters respecting the process ? </li></ul><ul><li>This is important; people who don’t respect Democracy or our Republican form of government may believe that bullying and shouting people down or manipulating the process through corruption is ok. It isn’t. </li></ul><ul><li>People using those types of tactics to promote their political positions make those positions suspect. Bully’s aren’t known for Fairness. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Question 5 <ul><li>How much was spent to promote the position ? </li></ul><ul><li>There is a law in politics – the more it costs to convince people to support a position – the less likely it is that the position actually benefits those people. </li></ul><ul><li>While this isn’t the case 100% of time – it is often enough to use it as a test. It opens the door to other questions such as – who has that much money to spend and why is this thing so darned important to them? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s Fair is usually True. Truth doesn’t cost as much as lies. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Question 6 <ul><li>Who will benefit from the proposed solution? </li></ul><ul><li>In politics, it’s rare to find a position that doesn’t ultimately benefit someone. Knowing where the benefit goes is often enlightening but not always obvious at first. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Question 7 <ul><li>Is it a long term cure or a short-term fix? </li></ul><ul><li>This may be more an indirect test but often it reflects the outcome of an excessive amount of negotiation or deal-making. </li></ul><ul><li>Short-term fixes often reflect a reluctance to take a firm stand and also tends to imply that major parts of a problem are passed along for others to solve. That in itself is usually unfair. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Question 8 <ul><li>Does the position promote the national interests of the United States? </li></ul><ul><li>You’d think this would be obvious to any politician but today’s climate has changed. You’re more likely to hear the drumbeat of Globalization and the need for Global competitiveness come ahead of the needs of ordinary Americans nowadays. </li></ul><ul><li>Ultimately though if Americans suffer, the United States will suffer. As goes the Middle Class so goes the country. Positions that will weaken the United States are by definition unfair. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Question 9 <ul><li>Does the position promote the interests of ordinary Americans? </li></ul><ul><li>America, like any nation is a mix of competing interests. Usually that competition is balanced but sometimes it falls out of balance. </li></ul><ul><li>Ordinary Americans do not have lot’s of cash or powerful lobbies to represent them but they can still be heard. If a position does not promote your interests you every right to say so. A position that only promotes the interests of a handful of people can often be viewed as unfair unless it is designed specifically to protect some minority group’s rights or freedoms. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Question 10 <ul><li>Is there any compelling evidence to support the contentions made within a position ? </li></ul><ul><li>In politics, too often we agree with our own side of the debate without examining what they’re really saying. </li></ul><ul><li>Any political position ought to have at least 3 compelling pieces of actual evidence supporting it – not just 3 rhetorical arguments or talking points. </li></ul><ul><li>Any politician who fails to include some evidence in their presentation of a position is likely advocating something that is unfair. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Conclusion <ul><li>We do not need political pundits to think for us – we do not need politicians to tell us how we should think. </li></ul><ul><li>What we need are for political professionals to present their case to us and allow us to decide for ourselves. We can do this by applying simple tests to what they are saying. </li></ul><ul><li>The tests may not come out exactly the same for all of us but one thing is for certain – if we take the time to apply one of these tests to a position we will be that much closer to making an informed decision about it. </li></ul>

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