This is an experimental essay format, combining writing and video.  It is intended to be viewed in the order presented as you scroll downward.

An Analysis of, and Response to, Conservatives' Concepts of Fairness and the Function of Government

as Gleaned from Their Criticisms of the COVID Relief Act of 2021, What Joe Biden
Calls "The American Rescue Plan", and Other Democratic Bills

Rick Garlikov

As can be seen from the above, politicians and the news media tend to focus on the specific moral elements they are interested in at the given time and ignore the broader context, particularly their opponents’ concerns.  For example an act, policy, or practice that does the most good (i.e., has the most utility) may not be the most fair because the good done is not reasonably distributed to very many people, and what is the most fair may not do the most good because the total amount of good done is spread so thin as to help almost no one.  A candy bar divided equally among 100 people does little good for anyone, but giving it to one of them who doesn't deserve it could be unfair even though it does more good by doing good for at least one person.  In the video clip above, the Republicans at first focus on the lack of bipartisan support an unfairness of the vote passing the American Rescue Plan while Democrats focus on the utility of it -- the benefits it provides and the harm it prevents.  Later in the clip, the Republican claim is that the bill is unfair in some parts because it is racist in favoring blacks, without consideration of whether helping people overcome an unfair disadvantage is unfair to people who have the advantage, and without consideration of whether removing an unfair advantage will benefit the advantaged group even more than the unfair advantage does and thus have greater utility even for them. 

When faced with a dilemma of having to choose between utility and fairness, it does no good for one side to just keep repeating or emphasizing the virtue of the utility and the other to do the same about fairness.  And it is particularly vexing and at least seemingly hypocritical rather than simply misguided when on one issue one side is arguing for fairness over utility but on another issue is arguing utility over fairness, and the other is doing the reverse in each case.  What is needed is a way to determine in any individual case which, if either, is significantly more important and why, and whether there cannot be a modification that would render the act, policy, or practice acceptably both fair and beneficial, particularly one that makes it both totally fair and fully beneficial.  In the candy bar case, for example, there could be a random drawing among deserving people to determine who gets it.  That gives everyone an equal chance to get it, though not everyone will actually get it.  In the candy bar case that seems to maximize fairness and benefit.  But it would not be the best way to distribute income from taxes or a business -- having a drawing to see who gets it all or the largest shares, because although it gives everyone equal opportunity, it does not give everyone a fairly deserved amount. 

Or consider the current claim by Republicans that significant early voting and mail-in voting, although it allows greater voter participation, allows fraud and thus should not be permitted to the extent it is.  The fact these voting opportunities seem to enable significant black, brown and other Democratic voters more access to the ballot they, of course, claim has nothing to do with their wanting to seriously limit them.  But the claim by election officials is that they have and have utilized methods that prevent widespread fraud and would recognize any attempts of it and that there is thus no need to choose between more accessible voting methods and fair elections; we can, and have, had elections that are both open to more voter participation and that are fair and honest.  If they are correct, there is no choice that needs to be made between fair elections and elections with more voter access.  Moreover, Republican legislatures undermine their own claims of it just being coincidental that they are trying to discourage black votes that happen to be primarily Democratic when they enact legislation and voting rules that make it more difficult for people of color and poor people in general inclined to vote Democratic to vote in person.  They do this by limiting voting sites in areas where they live that require transportation not readily available and that cause extremely long lines and the time it takes to vote, and then also having rules that no one can bring people in line food or water.  And they do this by opening polls at times most likely black people will not be able to easily attend.   The goal seems pretty clearly to be, and the consequence is, not to prevent fraudulent votes but to minimize the number of likely Democratic votes.

The idea behind such methods or ploys is to avoid the appearance of discrimination against a group by identifying a characteristic predominantly or solely associated with the group and targeting that characteristic.  That way one can claim not to be targeting the group specifically.  It is nevertheless discrimination.  And it is even claimed to be discrimination by the people who do it when the same method is used in reverse to help the targeted group without seeming to be favoring them.  The real issue in these cases is not whether it is intended to harm or help a particular group, or even whether it actually just unintentionally does harm or help them, but whether there is an actual justification for the harm or help, such as in removing a previous unfair disadvantage or imposing one.  As pointed out in the video, it is not unfair to help people overcome a previous, particularly a long time previous, disadvantage by giving them additional help that you do not give the previously advantaged group as long as the playing field is not yet truly level and as long as the effects of the previous disadvantage keep it from being truly level even though the previous discriminatory practice is now prohibited.  You can't just prohibit leg-breaking and then say any race will be fair to run against someone whose leg you broke prior to the prohibition.

But there are other elements beside fairness and utility involved in determining what is right or wrong. The following principle in the red font that I refer to as my general ethical principle (developed and fully explained in my "Introduction to Ethics", but which should be fairly understandable by itself) is my current best attempt to show all the ethical elements that need consideration and to provide a general way to prioritize them insofar as they are relatively balanced.  In any given situation, the balance between any two or more elements may be more reasonably skewed in one direction or the other, subject to separate, specific reasonable argument to that effect, as in a case of showing that fairness in more important than utility in a given case (or vice versa) or that a potential benefit is (or is not) worth the necessary risk or that in a given case, rights are more important than either fairness or utility. 

An act is right if and only if, of any act open to the agent to do, its intrinsic or natural consequences, apart from any extrinsic unfair rewards or punishments, bring about the greatest good (or the least evil, or the greatest balance of good over evil) for the greatest number of deserving people, most reasonably and fairly distributed, as long as no rights or incurred obligations are violated, as long as the act does not try to inflict needless harm on undeserving people, as long as the act does not needlessly risk harm in a reckless, negligent, heedless, or irresponsible manner, and as long as the act and its consequences are fair or reasonable to expect of the agent.* Rights have to be justified or explained or demonstrated; not just anything called a right is actually a right. Further, the amount of goodness created or evil prevented may, in some cases, be significant enough to legitimately override a right or incurred obligation that a lesser amount of good created or evil prevented may not. Overriding a right or incurred obligation is not the same as violating it.

*What is fair and reasonable to expect of an agent: [This is not a separate, stand-alone principle, but an explanation of the condition in the general principle about being fair and reasonable to the agent (who would be) performing the act.]

It is fair or reasonable for people to do things at little risk or cost to themselves that bring great benefit, prevent great harm, or create a much greater balance of benefit over harm, to others. Apart from cases where an agent has some special higher obligation that he has assumed or incurred, as the risk or cost to the agent increases and/or the benefit to others decreases, an agent is less obligated to perform the act. At some point along these scales, the obligation ceases altogether, though the act may be commendable or "saintly" to voluntarily perform (that is, it may be "over and above the call of duty"). At other points, the act may be so unfair to the agent -- may be so self-sacrificing for the agent to perform, even if voluntary, and/or of so little benefit to deserving others, that it would be wrong. (Not every act of sacrifice or martyrdom is all right or acceptable.)

Conservative Republicans, at least those who are reactionary, regressive ones such as Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham in the above video, disingenuously and falsely claim it to be discrimination to help level the playing field and help those who are disadvantaged through no fault of their own.  And they often intentionally incorrectly liken it to helping someone who didn’t work to earn more and doesn’t deserve to have more.  If we apply their view to the Aesop fable of the ants and the grasshopper, they consider it government’s theft of the property of the hard-working ants who all summer stored up food for the winter in order to give it to the lazy, irresponsible grasshopper.  But in that fable the grasshopper was not at an unfair disadvantage to the ants; he had equal opportunity but wasted it, and did so willfully and negligently despite their advice.  That is not the kind of case we are talking about.  And although Senator Graham said at the end of this clip that this was a program based solely on race (implying it was discrimination against white people, white farmers), he said at the beginning the more accurate, and totally different rationale was not about race but about helping socially disadvantaged groups, which, of course, often happens to be those who were discriminated against, in this case on the basis of race. But, as above, it is not a fair race if you have already knee-capped your opponents just because you have since then prohibited knee-capping.  You have to correct the consequences of past wrongs, not just quit doing them.  It is not sufficient for me to steal money from you to simply truthfully say I won't do it again; I also need to return it to you and make up for any harm I caused by depriving you of it while I had it.

Presumably there are other programs for helping white people make a contribution to the economy and get a corresponding reward/income for doing so.  If not, there should be, because everyone should be willing and able to contribute and receive fair payment for that.  It is foolhardy, besides being unfair, to exclude people from the economic system or to refrain from providing them assistance, and thus prevent them from earning a living for themselves and making a valuable contribution to others through their work.

If you look at the following video clip, I have focused on one significant but narrow area of baseball – spectacular catches -- to show how racial, ethnic, and gender diversity has provided an increased number and quality of exciting plays and fan enjoyment (even to losing fans in some cases because the opposing team’s play was so sensational, even if frustrating and upsetting).   I chose to show highlight catches rather than hits or home runs because there is more variety and because these catches seem to me to require more combined kinds of skills and abilities than standing still and hitting a ball does, though certainly at the higher levels of baseball, hitting well requires great talent in itself.  Moreover, insofar as better non-white players did take jobs away from less skilled but still capable white ones, that could have been avoided by league expansion at the same time instead of years later -- whereby there was a spot for people even with less, but still reasonable, skill.  There doesn't have to be a limited amount of opportunity for all who are capable of working well.

Or consider this play by University of Alabama football player George Teague at a critical point in the 1992 NCAA football championship game against the University of Miami who was favored to win.  Miami threw a pass to its fastest player who caught it far ahead of his defender in a wide open field.  He was not Teague's assigned responsibility on that play, and when the pass was caught Teague was further away from him than the player assigned to guard him.  Nevertheless ....

Or consider the added value to women's gymnastics by ending discrimination and having diversity in competition.  It allowed the world to experience these gifts:

And one more example of the wealth of talent, athleticism, beauty, and brilliant play brought to sports, in this case NBA basketball by having diversity. First a video of the play and then followed by a video of NBA great players commenting on it:

Consider these plays to represent a microcosm for diversity in business, academia, the arts, the military, medicine, science, government, community, and all other aspects of life. I realize that because it is easier to illustrate I have used sports as the example and now that black athletes have been able to participate and excel in sports it is stereotypically said that is their main or only strength and that they don't demonstrate the same kind of intellectual prowess (the "they can't be good quarterbacks or coaches" argument writ large), but 1) that has been repeatedly shown not to be true by black (and Latinx) people given (or creating for themselves) any sort of opportunity to learn and to develop their ability at all, for example the women mathematicians in the early NASA space program and the "Tuskegee airmen" in WWII, and 2) you can't justifiably claim people don't have abilities you actively prevented them from being able to develop; e.g., denying black people a decent education and then saying they are too uneducated or ignorant or stupid to perform well.  Under such restrictions, any limitations in their ability are on you, not them -- reflections of your lack of moral character, not their lack of ability or intellect.  Including more people and more diverse people generally just gives you so much more benefit than excluding them does.  Now, it is true that in any particular case deciding what is fair when trying to help the previously disadvantaged or naturally weaker or deciding how much to help is sometimes difficult, but it should at least be clear that removing an unfair advantage is not discriminating against the person or group who has it, particularly when removing the disadvantage helps even those who had the previous advantage gain even more without it than they had with it.

Consider three cases clear cases besides the above: 1) handicap competition in amateur golf or other sports, 2) point spreads in betting (even friendly betting), and 3) the NBA and NFL drafts in professional sports.  Golf handicaps and betting point spreads allow play and bets to be more competitive and fair in the sense of making the outcome less certain ahead of time.  There is little point in having a competition or in betting money for the thrill of it if you know who will most likely win and who will most likely lose before the competition even begins.  It would not be particularly interesting for the average person to race evenly against a gold medalist runner, but it would be interesting to see what kind of head start in either time or distance an Olympic medalist runner could overcome to still win against an obviously slower runner.  

A handicap system can also be used for educational purposes.  When I taught my daughters to play Ping Pong, as they improved I gave them a decreasing head start (from the pretty much insurmountable 20 point head start I gave them initially – first to 21 or more by two points ahead wins) to give them a chance to win but also to give myself a chance to win, depending on which of us played our best relative to our different abilities.  That made the games more fun for each of us, since it is not only no fun to lose all the time to someone we know is better, but, for most decent people, it is not really much fun to win all the time either if we know we will and won’t have to work very hard to do it.  What is desired in competition is to bring out the best in each player and then see who wins, and a hard-fought good game is much more exciting than one where one player or team, as they say, “doesn’t show up”; i.e., doesn’t play to anywhere near their potential.  After game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox, which was an extremely hard-fought game with many great clutch plays by both teams, won by the Red Sox in the 12th inning on Carlton Fisk’s dramatic, barely fair home run, Pete Rose was asked whether that would discourage the Reds in game 7, yet to be played.  Rose enthusiastically said it would not and that it really was not a negative experience because your whole career you want to play in a game that good, and it was a thrill to be a part of it and help make it happen, even on the losing side.  The Reds went on to win game 7 on a 9th inning hit by Joe Morgan.  That World Series is considered to be one of the best in history. 

In sports, where scores are kept and championships recorded, it is easy to lose sight of the thrill, not just of victory, but of excellence of play.  If that is kept in mind, there are rewards, such as those recorded in highlight reels, in the activity beyond what is measured by stats and trophies.   And there can be the thrilling reward of playing better than previously even if one is not playing all that well yet.  I learned to play Ping Pong pretty decently by playing game after game after game against a neighbor who had a table in his basement and who beat me like a drum every time we played, until I improved enough with each passing game to finally beat him.  My goal and thrill in playing him even though getting badly beaten, was that I improved a little with each game, losing by fewer points each time, until finally I didn't lose.  Similarly, when my younger daughter first played soccer, she was put on a team of first time playing eight year olds.  All the teams they played  consisted of players who already had a half or full season of experience, and my daughter's team lost every game that first year, but the players were never daunted because the goal was to improve each week.  It took three games before they scored their first goal, but that was a big moment.  Then the next objective was to lose by less and less each game.  They almost tied one game but time ran out as they were headed toward the net down by just one point.  There third season they went undefeated, but the enjoyment of playing was no less the first year when they lost all their games.  It was the joy of playing their best at the time that thrilled them. 

Taking the concept of removing a competitive disadvantage to a more significant arena, one also more financially important, in the NBA and NFL, letting previous losing teams have a better opportunity to pick the best new players, helps the leagues and all teams make more money by increasing fan appeal, particularly for the otherwise weaker teams whose chances increase somewhat by adding better players. If the same teams win every year because "the rich get richer" and the winners can then draft the best new players, the sport will lose overall appeal to, and revenue from, the fans of perpetually losing teams. It is not just competition, but balanced competition that produces the highest, widest fan enjoyment and best financial result for major league sports.  And that includes the idea as the phrase goes about the NFL "On any given Sunday ..." [even a normally terrible team might beat a normally great team].

But simply notice that although all of this, and more, is relevant to the consideration of the American Rescue Plan, none of it is covered by just complaining that the plan was passed without Republican support or that it was based in some portions on race.

In Response to the Republican Complaint that Some of the American Rescue Act Has “Nothing to do with COVID”
Why not aim for getting the economy rebuilt better than it was, to eliminate or at least minimize the inequities that were bad enough before but that COVID made worse or at least made more obvious.  If you had to rebuild your home after a fire, you wouldn't rebuild the flaws or limitations you had found it had, but would try to rebuild it without those flaws or limitations.  And with the economy, you should want to rebuild it so that it was not only better when functioning well, but so that it would have fewer victims of any other economic downturns or disasters.  That is what is has to do with COVID relief.  If people are being hurt in accidents at the same intersection over and over, you don’t just treat them medically and send them back to be harmed again and allow others to be harmed too; you redesign and rebuild the intersection to be safer.  That isn’t part of the treatment of the already injured, but is still part of the treatment of the problem which is at least as important in order to prevent further harm or catastrophe.  If the original problem you are trying to solve is how to increase first responder assistance, you don't reasonably ignore ways to decrease the need for it by saying decreasing the need has nothing to do with improving the service.  The same for trying to remedy the other unfair, unnecessary evils COVID or any other economic downturn exposed or exacerbated.  You don't reasonably ignore preventing future harm by arguing it has nothing to do with increasing the assistance for the harm when it happens.  An ounce of prevention is less of a cost or burden than an increased amount of treatment.  But Senator Graham is arguing that an ounce of prevention is an irrelevant unnecessary expense and too much trouble.

In Response to the "You'll Lose the America You Grew Up In" Criticism In The Following Video:

Obviously many earlier stages of America were not that good for many segments of society, as shown in the video.  But there is much more to the issue of inclusion versus exclusion.  One of the best and funniest ever ‘get well’ cards said on the front “Take all the time you need to recover.  You don’t need to rush your recuperation. We here at work have divided your job among all of us, and …” then on the inside said “that way everyone gets to go home a half hour early.”  That, of course, is funny only if not true.  But the point it depends on for its humor is an important one, often lost sight of when talking about economics.  Theoretically, and often in practice if it combines, coordinates, or consolidates properly and everyone is competent and conscientious, the more people you have to help do something the more you can accomplish, or the easier it is for everyone to accomplish any particular task.  Hence, the more people you have working in an economic system, then, theoretically at least, the more goods and services are available and/or the more leisure time everyone should have as they all share the work. 

Monetarily, of course, the more people working, generally the more it costs, but the important point is the benefit compared to the costs, not just the benefits alone nor the costs alone, and the principle in short is that people generally should be considered two hands to help rather than just a mouth to feed, because, with only some exceptions, everyone working in concert can generally contribute more than they get in return if the work and the reward for it are fairly divided and if everyone is doing their fair share and not shirking their responsibilities or being lazy.  And in most cases, people working in concert can accomplish far more than any of them could accomplish by themselves, and in some cases can accomplish together what could not be accomplished at all separately, as in lifting or moving an object that is too large or too heavy for one person to lift or move alone.

And even if you think that there is no real need to incorporate more people into an economy or activity that performs perfectly acceptably without them, you are missing the contributions they could make that you may not even imagine.  What if the people you exclude from a science education would have been the ones to discover a cure for a disease you yourself die from later.  If we just take sports and the exclusion of people of color or women, look at some of the magnificent plays and performances we would have missed besides the ones we had from white males.  And in baseball, I am only showing catches, not all the great home runs and other hits or defensive plays made by people of all races or ethnicity:   Clearly for sports fans who are not racial or gender bigots, their joys and memories are enhanced by diversity.  You would have to be pretty callous to watch these plays and say they would only have been good, or would have been much better, if they had just been done by white males.

More About Money


Basically the economy works through the trading of labor, and money is the most common means to foster and accomplish that trade compared with, say, barter.  It is difficult to barter a cow or a car for an airplane ticket or even for something exactly equivalent to a cow if the owners of the equivalent thing you want don't want a cow.  Money as a universal medium and means of exchange makes trade far more possible than barter.  But sometimes the means do not justify the ends because from time to time, just like in the game of Monopoly, money can flow into places where it prevents trade or prevents the most important trade, and sometimes the mechanics or rules of what is generally a productive endeavor ends up producing a very undesirable result.  In the board game of Monopoly where that proceeds too far, you start the game over, but in economics you cannot just do that.  Nevertheless fair and reasonable mechanisms outside of normal commerce sometimes need to be found to get money from where it is clearly not doing much good to where it can and will.  Insofar as unproductive money can voluntarily change hands to become more productive, all the better, but sometimes it might need a forceful nudge as a last resort or in order to make long term plans that require guaranteeing future funding.  Regardless of how money pools up to where it is not being used to do the most good for the most deserving people or even much good at all, it needs to be put to use to do work that needs to be done by people who need work to do.  Hoarding money or spending it on frivolous purposes that waste perfectly good available labor is not the best use of it.    When people are unemployed or underemployed, money needs to be put to use to do important work by them.  Also, numerous businesses that served a real purpose had to be shuttered during the pandemic, and money was needed in some cases to allow them to at least hibernate until they could come back to life again after the pandemic.  It would be a waste of money, time, labor, and all the resources put into them to just let them go belly up and the owners or others try to start them up from scratch again through no fault of their own or their employees.

Disaster relief should be thought of as social financial insurance on a national or international scale.  It provides money that is in excess of where it is not particularly needed to where it is most needed.  Farmers model this behavior when one section of the country helps provide feed for the livestock of another section undergoing severe weather conditions.  Normally insurance collects premiums to pay benefits, but unexpected catastrophes like this pandemic catch people unprepared, or in the case of farmers and feed for livestock, it is not about money but about having the feed available to send.  Where money is involved, the benefits in some of these unanticipated cases -- such as the pandemic -- need to be paid before the premiums are collected.  Money needs to be borrowed or taxes increased to pay for it.  And one of the operating ethical principles involved is that the financial victims of the pandemic are not to blame for having to shutter their businesses during it or order to try to end the contagion and it will do more good, including economic good, not just humanitarian good, to help them and their businesses survive than it will cost the nation. 

The people that were not financially affected by the pandemic were those who could operate "remotely" by communication devices or shipping services and those who could operate socially distanced -- such as farmers and outdoor construction workers, etc.  Those not affected financially but having to risk severe illness were those workers considered essential (about which there was not always agreement) who could not work well remotely and who did not have facilities available to work far apart.  But very few people chose careers prior to 2019 on the basis of the ability to do them remotely or at a safe distance from respiratory infection.  It is not their fault they couldn't work or operate their business, and there was no 'moral hazard' incentive to choose the kind of work you would be able to shirk and get free pandemic relief support payments.  It is simply bad luck that some people had work that had to be shut down during the pandemic while others had work that did not need to be shut down.  Moreover, the money not spent on things like hotels and airline tickets was money saved by people who did not travel who otherwise would have.  Basically the people who saved or made money during the pandemic should help those who lost money.  Many people tried to help voluntarily in various ways, but the magnitude of the solution needs to match the magnitude of the problem, and the American Rescue Plan, for better or worse in its details, is an attempt to do that.

People able to continue working during the pandemic were not particularly financially harmed at all by it.  And they do not need rescue payments.  Republicans have tried to distinguish those people from people who do need and deserve payment on the basis of their incomes, but the problem with that is IRS income information for the year, 2020, when quarantining shut down businesses, is not yet in.  It doesn't matter if someone had substantial income in 2019 if they were unable to work in 2020.  A possible solution, but I don't know how feasible, would be to make clear relief payments were for people with 2020 incomes below a certain level and that if your 2020 income exceeded that or was a substantial portion of it, you would have to return some or all of the relief money with your tax returns. 

Now the video points out that some wealth accrues because employers do not pay their workers a fair share of the earnings those workers generate.  Minimum wage is a way to try to prevent or remedy that, but it is too blunt an instrument because it still doesn't divide business earnings fairly, in many cases still giving laborers an unfairly low percentage of the company's profits, but in some cases possibly even requiring paying workers too high a percentage if the company has too little earnings and cannot survive by raising prices to pay for the increase in wages.  Of course, companies tend to predict or complain they cannot survive if they raise prices, but often that proves to be untrue, so what matters is what can or will actually occur, not what companies necessarily predict about it.  Auto makers have protested having to install safety equipment from seat belts, through two air bags, to more crashworthy construction for decades, and yet they have not suffered financially by doing it. 

Or consider that "In 1914, Henry Ford did a surprising thing by increasing the wages of his employees. He gave $10,000,000 in profits to his employees. He raised the wage of his factory workers from $2.34 a day to $5.00 a day. Ford also made his work days only 8 hours." [source]  "The benefits were almost immediate. Productivity surged, and the Ford Motor Co. doubled its profits in less than two years. Ford ended up calling it the best cost-cutting move he ever made." [source]  Businessmen at the time had predicted it would kill the Ford Motor Company and ruin the economy if others had to match the wage to compete for workers.  Instead it had the opposite effect.  With regard to economic predictions, as the saying goes about prediction in general "It is difficult to prophesy, especially about the future."  As money circulates and trade increases, the benefits can outpace the costs.  Things cost much more today than 65 years ago, and yet the average person has far more, for example.  Of course, if money is spent poorly it wastes labor involved in the trade, but it is not cost alone that is important, although you would never know that from the way politicians argue against spending, borrowing, and increasing taxes -- though only for those programs or policies they don't like.

But there is another way that is at the same time fair in one way and unfair in another that one can amass great wealth.  If one's labor can be multiplied by machinery (including computers), and particularly if it can be mass marketed and distributed, one can charge very little to make a lot of money by selling to millions or billions of people.  The reason Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) and Nurse Jackie (Edie Falco) could make so much more money than any real doctor or nurse even though they did not treat any real patients, was that an hour of their labor served millions of people, but the practice of real medicine is labor intensive and cannot serve but a few patients apart from things like mass vaccinations or pill dispensing, blood drawing or swabs for lab tests, etc.   But it is in some sense an "accident of science or technology" that the laws of chemistry and physics allow us to have learned to mass produce by recording, and mass distribute by radio, television, and Internet broadcasting, audio visual (one-way) spectator kinds of labor and to
transmit self-installing, easy to use digital software applications (including interactive games) by Internet, to millions or hundreds of people, or that some activities could be watched in giant stadiums by tens of thousands of people at a time.  And it is an accident of human nature and psychology that we can enjoy watching some activities at all rather than needing to participate in a way that would be impossible to all do at the same time.

And while it is not unfair to make a lot of money by mass production and distribution of beneficial goods and services, it is unfair or otherwise not right for that process to end up pooling money or channeling and siphoning off money from necessities for many whose work is labor intensive to luxuries for the relatively few whose work is not, particularly when it gives great wealth for work of less importance that can be mass produced while leaving less or enough money to barely provide a living for work of more importance that is labor intensive and cannot be mass produced, such as military work, police and other 'first responder' work, nursing, shelf stocking, secretarial work, truck driving, piloting, teaching (in so many cases where it needs to be individualized -- though teaching has been mass produced for centuries through technologies called books and printing, but many people seem unable to learn from reading them and require personalized instruction that even the Internet apparently so far fails generally to be able to provide, given that remote learning has been pretty much a frustrating failure for most students so far during the pandemic), etc.

Ideally those with more than they need through mass distribution of products and services of their labor would voluntarily give much of the excess to those deserving people who have less than they need, and many do.  (And it would be preferable to be able to be secure in the knowledge that should circumstances be reversed after one has helped others by giving them money, so would the money transfers.)  But sometimes that process needs a nudge, even a forceful one.  It would more likely be voluntary and reciprocal if people understood that mutual benefit, rather than the accumulation of money, is the point of economics and trade, and that unlike money, mutual benefit is not a zero sum game where one person's gain must be at the expense of another person's loss of money.  Even with money transactions, especially easily affordable ones, people often understand that spending money is itself not a loss for them because they gain by their purchase something more important than the money, which is why they voluntarily spend the money for something they really want.  Similarly with voluntarily helping others; when neighbors help each other through a power outage or weather emergency or some other problem.  Each contributes what they can to help those with greater need, and knows it will be reciprocated or paid forward if necessary -- and good people do not feel deprived by helping others in ways they readily can. 

Oppositely, when pure monetary profit, rather than fair and ethical profit, becomes the primary goal and motivation, it also becomes the primary problem, as in cutting safety or quality corners, overburdening workers, passing on business costs to others (as in requiring prospective employees to pay for training at a college or community college instead of giving them on the job training, and as in freely polluting air, ground, or water and leaving the clean up to government or the public in the form of what economics calls "externalities" (in these cases negative ones, unlike positive ones such as you and other neighbors benefiting from those that beautify their yards, which gives the rest of you pleasure to look at and which can increase the market value of your homes in the neighborhood) instead of running their business like a restaurant that has to pay for keeping its kitchen, dishes, and utensils clean and charge customers to do it) or in outright fraud or theft.  Mutual benefit is the ultimate goal, and although money can be a catalyst for that, the process is not necessarily straightforward and it is not just about whether money is spent but how it is used.  Kevin, Lindsey, and Maria don't seem to indicate or be aware of any of that.  Or care. 

One other kind of way to make a lot of money is to provide products or services at exorbitant prices for wealthy people willing to pay them.  In the case of fashion that may be a matter of luck or lucky timing; in cases of some necessities it is partly a matter of being able to get away with extortion in some lucky way also.  People willingly accept that a liver transplant might cost $300,000 but would balk at police charging that for answering a call about a possibly armed intruder even though the police may have as much training as the surgeon and even though the police would be putting their own lives at risk but the surgeon is not.  Moreover, research physicians and public health physicians who may do more good than, say a Hollywood cosmetic surgeon, make far less money.  These are all matters of luck or arbitrary priorities.  So there is not some particularly moral reason for the one group to make more money than the other, surgeons more than police or cosmetic surgeons more than internists in impoverished communities or than researchers or public health physicians.  Or in many cases, doctors far more than the nurses who may be even more critical to the patient's care, or teachers far less than the people they teach, etc.

The main point is that there is far more to both the economics and the morality of taxes and the distribution of income than politicians and the media tend to indicate or be aware of, or seem to care about.  Or to be willing to discuss in reasonable ways.  And that holds us all back and causes unnecessary, often bitter, and totally unproductive dissension, particularly between those who believe in the efficacy and morality of ethical egoism -- every person for him/herself or at least people of the same race, gender, or ethnicity -- and those who believe we should be our brother's keeper, that good Samaritanism is an obligation not a charitable indulgence, and that there is more to fairness, justice, and ultimately even to social and personal utility than just everyone following the same rules or laws, whether those rules and laws themselves are fair, just, or reasonable or not.