I cannot begin to describe to you the general contempt I have for what that concept has come to mean in this culture. I’m not sure, but I can well imagine that it originally served to describe those who behave dishonorably in their dealings with others.
Today, in terms of dishonest word manipulation, it’s at the very top. Today, when you hear it, it’s nearly always a veil intended to cover an outright theft. When a big company is acting "unfairly," it means: somebody is laying claim to something to which they are not morally entitled, and "fairness" is trotted out as a legal principle in order to carry out a legally legitimized usurpation–an outright theft–you know, like when it was perfectly legal to enslave, buy, and sell another human being or send him to the back of the bus because of his skin color. (It’s always important to keep "the law" in fine historical perspective.)
So I get an email from a lawyer yesterday. As lawyers go, he’s a very fine one. He defends businesses from the sort of theft that goes on in the courts–and more often: backroom settlement–to the tune of hundreds of millions every day. He does what he can, which is a lot. Anyway, the purpose of the email was to highlight an article he’d just published in a law review concerning the unsettled nature of the legal definition of "unfair" in the appellate courts.
So I wrote back.
It’s interesting, and for what it’s worth, I’m glad there are defenders of business out there such as yourself. I understand what you’re up against and I certainly don’t envy you your task. The playing field is sloped to your definite disadvantage and the deck is most assuredly stacked heavily against you: yet you manage with sophisticated legalisms to save the skin of clients time and again who haven’t harmed anyone (and aren’t going to).
Your approach to that is certainly different than mine. See: I believe in property rights (unequivocal ones). So with the exception of outright force initiation or fraud–which definitions should certainly not require nearly so much nitpicking as the concept of "unfair"–all of this is just one giant usurpation, theft, and parasitic destruction on the part of the state. …The sole purpose being, of course, to provide endless avenues for the bogus "saintly good fairies" (politicians, government officials, consumer "advocates") to point fingers at the imaginary "demons" (big business and the rich)–all for the general consumption of a population of abject morons with chips on their shoulders, founded in destructive envy and brought on by breathtaking ignorance in virtually all disciplines. Such ignorance has become systemic in the culture.
It’s not the America I would have hoped to live and do business in.
(some metaphors above borrowed from here)