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First Tuesday: What We Talk about When We Talk about Fairness

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Noon-1:30 p.m. ET

 

 

 

 

Panelists:

  • Greg Ip, U.S. economics editor, The Economist (moderator)
  • Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow in economic studies, Brookings Institution; former associate director, Office of Management and Budget
  • Eugene Steuerle, Institute fellow, Urban Institute; author, Contemporary U.S. Tax Policy
  • Joseph Thorndike, director, Tax History Project, Tax Analysts; author, Their Fair Share: The American Tradition of Taxing the Rich (forthcoming)
  • Charles Verharen, professor of philosophy, Howard University

“I know the world isn’t fair,” pen-in-cheek cartoonist Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) observed, “but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?”

Whether one is a 6-year-old imp, a 36-year-old voter, or a 66-year-old policymaker, coming to grips with what’s fair, equitable, or just -- or even how to debate their definitions -- can be a lifetime’s pursuit.

This forum will tackle the many dimensions of fairness through multiple lenses: economics, history, and philosophy, especially as they come into play in debates over taxes, spending, and public policy more generally. With election season heating up and candidates drafting their stump speeches, they’ll be making a lot of claims about fairness. Are there ways to assess these claims beyond whether the policy prescriptions agree with ours?

Resources:
- Bios
- Sawhill: "The Buffett Rule: It's About Perceptions of Fairness, Not Policy"
- Sawhill: "The 'Buffett Rule' Is a Good Start"
- Sawhill: "Public Values and Attitudes"
- Steuerle: “And Equal (Tax) Justice for All?
- Thorndike: excerpt from Their Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR
- Verharen: "Survival Ethics Theory: To Be Good Is First to Be"
- Verharen: "Fairness: The View from 50,000 Feet"
 

At the Urban Institute
2100 M Street N.W., 5th Floor, Washington, D.C.
Lunch will be provided at 11:30 a.m. The forum begins promptly at noon.

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