Feel “used” lately? There are apparently those who think you should:
It’s a commonly expressed sentiment that “we’re all users;” alternately, that “we’re all prostitutes.” The idea, of course, is that with the exception of whatever pure-subsistence farmers remain in the world, each of us sells something — his labor, his skills, or his brainpower — to earn his living. We “use” the desire of others for what we can do to produce income for ourselves, “just like a prostitute.”
This quasi-condemnation of Mankind is among the foulest propositions ever to gain currency among us. It relegates the one and only way in which men could advance from the bloody savagery of the jungle — the division of labor and subsequent specialization of men into our many distinct trades — to the plane of venality. For what does it mean to say that Smith is “using” Jones? Doesn’t that imply that Jones’s desires are of no moment? That Smith is trying to get Jones to do something that is in no way in his interests, and indeed might be against them? How does that match up against the requirement, in a free and open market, that both participants in any transaction must regard it as beneficial to them on net balance?
The “free and open market” is the problem, according to proponents of this foul proposition: in any such market, there is competition, and therefore there will be unequal outcomes, which are deemed unacceptable in this day and age. “Fairness,” doncha know.
Of course, if life were actually fair, then your below-average outcome is, by definition, your fault. So there’s a definite disconnect between fairness and “fairness,” which governmental mutts are more than happy to exploit, knowing that Smith and Jones have day jobs and therefore aren’t able to spend forty hours a week inventing grievances for the government to redress.
Inevitably, this traces back to Marx and “to each according to his needs” — except, of course, for those who have oh-so-willingly tasked themselves with deciding what those needs are supposed to be. “Eight point five,” says Dante, checking their itinerary.