An interesting organisation called the Fairness Foundation was recently launched, to promote the centrality of fairness to the world we need to be building, for ourselves and for our children. Actually, the Foundation’s focus – for the time-being at least – is the UK rather than international, so that ‘world’ doesn’t quite (yet) have its usual geographical reach.
The Foundation has at the centre of its messaging 5 core elements, which it calls the Fair Necessities. These are powerful and simple concepts, which chime well with people’s thinking but which would lead to dramatic shifts in politics and behaviour:
“We propose a definition of fairness in terms of five ‘fair necessities’ that could form the basis of an organising philosophy that most people in Britain would support. This in turn could underpin a platform for root and-branch reform of the way that our society and economy is organised, which could draw support from a wide range of political traditions and parties,” it explains.
The Foundation goes on to say: “Most people recognise that the society we live in is increasingly unfair. The majority of people believe that everyone should have the same opportunities to succeed, and that social and economic inequalities have become so stark that this is often no longer possible.” It notes current UK failings of fairness across democracy, education, environment, health, housing, justice, social security, taxation, wealth and work, and starts to set out ways forward on these. It also emphasises how universal is the sense of fairness, and the need to reflect it in political platforms. Clearly, this blogger would agree on the scale of the problem of unfairness – that’s why I have long been focusing on fairness as a way through our current challenges, addressing many of these same issues. It’s very welcome to see others so forcibly joining in making these arguments.
The Fair Necessities are a powerful and simple set of messages, and a strong beginning for the new organisation. I for one look forward to seeing how the Fairness Foundation develops. It is eager to use the political moment created by the coronavirus pandemic, when we are all more conscious of the unfairness around us, to press for change:
“We need to change the terms of the debate, as well as changing policies. Building a fairer society will not only generate significant social and economic returns; more fundamentally, it is a moral duty of the state to ensure that everyone has equal life chances…Fairness is the key organising logic that underpins how we can (and must) build a positive future for humanity.”
I’m told there’s no plan to write the lyrics to a full version of a Fair Necessities song, based on Baloo’s Bare Necessities in the Disney version of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. That seems a shame; as the title of this blog suggests, not every word of the original would need to be changed. Further, we could all do with rather fewer worries and strife; greater fairness must be one way towards achieving that.
The Fair Necessities discussion paper, November 2021, The Fairness Foundation