It would seem that humans beings are innately fair-minded.
They are drawn more to transactions that are fair, if not necessarily equal, over those that might appear economically rational. Social economics research says that if you have $100 and are prepared to share it with me if I’m offered anything less than about $40, I’d rather go without.
This subconscious ‘fairness test’ translates across any number of social transactions.
At the 19th hole after a friendly fourball, it is better to risk the ire of the breathalyzer than for any one member of the group to shirk the fairness of getting in his shout. So when, in order to keep to my self-imposed ‘maximum of 2 beers a day’ rule, I get my round in first or second, then say no thanks on the third and fourth round.
My golfing buddies are incredulous.
“No worries”, I say, “I’m good”.
They insist and with ever-increasing voracity, for I have unwittingly deprived them of fairness. The lime and soda duly arrives as a less than complete compromise.
We have this fairness requirement even if our social systems are steadily imposing the opposite. Wealth, income and opportunity disparities have created ‘have’s’ and ‘have nots’ a plenty. And we all know it to be true, so much so that it can even get some odd folk elected to public office.
No doubt this innate ‘fairness test’ is a driver for any number of historical resets where the ‘have’s’ took too much, beyond what was considered fair, and the masses rose up to change things. There is also no doubt that fairness is hard-wired into every generation. It might even leak across into entitlement.
So the questions to think about are these.
When will the next reset happen?
My guess is that the current return to a political polarisation of sorts is the pre-dinner drinks. It is not the main meal at all. That will come when the old school approach typified by the stupid white men who actually think that if you offer $1 from your $100 it is better than nothing and so you will be grateful for the gesture, finally withers away.
So my guess is not in this but perhaps the next generation. Sometime towards the middle of the century when the reality has bitten a little harder and there has been time for some alternative politics to be invented by the young.
And how will it reset?
A social revolution of course. It is the way… usually.