Fairness and Equity: Notes 1

Prepared by:

Joseph Malkevitch
Department of Mathematics and Computer Studies
York College (CUNY)
Jamaica, New York 11451



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Issues of fairness and equity interact in subtle ways with other concepts and ideas. This series of notes is designed to suggest connections to such other concepts, raise questions for further thought, give examples that may help clarify ideas or insights, etc.

People live in societies which have differing organizations. How successful are these different forms of government in "delivering" fair and equitable treatment to the citizens they serve?

Forms of government:

a. Autocracy (which includes dictatorship)

Infamous dictators: Hitler (Germany) and Stalin (Soviet Union)

b. Oligarchy

c. Monarchy

d. Theocracy

e. Federation

f. Democracy

g. Anarchy

(Totalitarian and fascist are other terms sometimes used in conjunction with government organization.)

Issues of fairness are also involved with the way the economic system under which a person lives is organized.

Forms of economic organization:

a. Capitalism

Theorist: Adam Smith's "invisible hand."

b. Socialism

c. Mixed economy

d. Communism

Theorists: Marx, Lenin

e. Communalism

f. Tribalism

g. Feudalism

Daily newspapers are filled with stories that in a broad sense can be interpreted as raising fairness and equity questions:

Stories in late August, 2004 include:

a. The war in Iraq

b. Decision of a federal court that a law banning "partial birth abortions" was unconstitutional.

c. Election campaign for President (the election will occur in November).

d. Recent rise in the number of Americans who are below the poverty line and who don't have medical insurance.

e. Alan Greenspan's statement about whether the "entitlements" of the "baby boomer" generation may have to be curtailed.

f. Drug usage by athletes involved with the Olympic Games in Athens, and with sports in general.