You're right to be terrified of the word "fair"

“Fair” must be one of the most commonly used words in the English language. It most certainly is one of the most dangerous.

It gets used and thrown around with reckless abandon every day. Don’t believe me? Here’s are some examples:

  • Farm succession: “Let’s make sure we split up the farm so it’s fair for you and your brother.”
  • Years earlier, when you were a kid: “That’s not fair that she/he gets a bigger piece of pie!”
  • President Trump on trade: “We need fair trade and not free trade”
  • Finance Minister Bill Morneau on tax changes: “Our government just wants an even playing field that is fair”
  • Any grain elevator in the world: “We’re giving you a very fair price right now”

This little four-letter word is complex. It packs a big punch by lacking description, its adaptability to almost any context, and the fact it is self interpretative for participants in the conversation.

In farm succession, one of the best responses to the use of the word is:

“Equal is not fair, and fair is not equal.”

But we should likely apply this same brilliant logic to most uses of the word. Fair sounds like a compromise, but it’s often individualized to justify one person or party’s point of view.

There are many things to be terrified of in this turbulent world of agriculture, and the word “fair” is one of them.

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