Life Isn’t Fair. Now Get Over It.

Advertising Disclosure This article/post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers or partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products or services

Let's deal with one of the more common realities of life. There isn't an axiom more self-evident than that life isn't fair. It never has been throughout the history of mankind, nor will it ever be. No matter how much others try to make right with what's wrong in the world, life will still be unfair for someone somewhere.  In addition, what others made right for one group, could very well “wrong” another group in the process.
Once you realize this yourself, you'll lead a much happier life. Unfairness is what makes everyone unique. It makes you different than anyone else.  You'll stop asking why are they richer than me? How come my child is awful in sports? You won't be asking for government intervention to fix what's “broken”. Yet we constantly ask our politicians to help fix something that directly affects us in life because it's unfair.

I recently watched a DVD with my four-year-old son, “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss was a rhyming rapping genius, and as a child, of course, I never got this. When watching this video, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.

The basic gist of the story: the Sneetches without stars on their stomach felt they were being treated unfairly by the ones who did. The ones without stars met up with a man named Sylvester. He had a machine that would allow them to also have stars by each paying $10 dollars.  Once everyone has stars, the ones who initially had stars wanted their stars removed by Sylvester. It could be said that Sylvester is our government. I won't give away the rest of the suspenseful story, but I suggest you watch it.

Life is full of unfairness. Here are some examples in the real world:

  • US government employees make more than the private sector
  • Someone else is richer than you
  • Your child has a learning disability
  • You are born in North Korea (sad part they don't realize it)
  • Too young or too old
  • Too ugly or too pretty (yes being too good looking has issues)

All of these are unfortunate things, but that's the way things are. Those were the cards you were dealt in life. It's your decision how you play your hand. I'm not saying I don't have compassion for these issues. I do, I really do have compassion for others. My point is instead of complaining, use the unfairness in your life, and work around them. Use what could be considered a disadvantage to your advantage. There have been many examples throughout history of people who have, against all odds, made themselves into a success story. What made them unique was the reason for their success, not failure. They didn't blame others for their issues, and instead took action regardless of the circumstances. We need to become the best we can be and not compare ourselves to others.


Related to unfairness is entitlement. I'll send out the all points bulletin, but you aren't entitled to anything.  Just because you worked hard all of your life doesn't mean you deserve anything. Even though every child wins an award in an elementary school sporting event, that's not how the real world works. Some examples:

  • You already got two years of unemployment benefits, does not mean you are entitled for more.
  • If I don't listen to what my customers want, it does not entitle me to still be in business.
  • You don't deserve a corner office when just getting out of college.
  • The senator, who doesn't listen to their constituents, isn't entitled to their position come election time.
  • You aren't entitled to own a home.
  • You aren't entitled to an education.
  • You most definitely are not entitled to free healthcare.

Entitlement to me means everyone deserves the same quality of service for the same price (or “free”). We all know in economic reality there is no such thing as a free lunch. Some way, somehow someone has to pay for the services. Since I'm in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, there aren't magical leprechauns dancing around a pot of gold so an entitlement can exist (or maybe they do). Even communist and socialist countries have shown that people still get treated unfairly with entitlements. For example, it's safe to assume in his failing health, Fidel Castro gets better healthcare than the average person within his country. Everyone in Cuba is entitled to the same healthcare, but not everyone gets treated equally. In the end, entitlement leads to mediocrity, which leads to overall poor service and lack of innovation.

Readers what do you think? Do you think I'm a heartless bastard who has no care for his fellow man? Or do I just accept the facts of life and deal with it in a rational way?

Larry Ludwig

Larry Ludwig was the founder and editor in chief of Investor Junkie. He graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science in computers and a minor in business. Back in the ’90s, I helped create some of the first financial websites for firms like Chase, T. Rowe Price, and ING Bank, and later went on to work for Nomura Securities. He’s had a passion for investing since he was 20 years old and has owned multiple businesses for over 20 years. He currently resides in Long Island, New York, with his wife and three children.


  1. I donno IJ. I think so long as someone else continues to pay for my lunches and let's me free-ride with bailouts and stuff, it's all good!

    I mean, raise taxes on everyone but ourselves right? Support tax hikes if you don't have to pay for one. Isn't this the American way?

    Blame the banks and Wall St. for the housing collapse instead of the buyers who bought homes they couldn't afford. It is the American Way.

    1. "raise taxes on everyone but ourselves right? Support tax hikes if you don't have to pay for one." That would make it not fair then 🙂 Hey I'm all for it then 😉

      That's not the American way you describe, that's human nature.

      I discussed with wifey the other day about we should reduce the size of our government. She then proceeded to mention about a service we get from the govt. I mentioned we'll take advantage of it because it's there. We would be a fool not to use it. We pay enough taxes.

      It doesn't mean though I agree it should be there in the first place. In fact would rather pay for it directly ourselves, if they reduced our taxes proportionally. Instead of complaining how it's unfair, I instead go with the flow and use it to our advantage. That's the message my friend.

      1. I just watched the short video. Brilliant indeed… he is a rapping rhyming genius. Let me watch the rest of the movie on youtube!

        I stopped trying to compare too much with others about 6 years ago. After you make a certain amount of money, it's kinda pointless.

        Just have fun, be true to yourself, and it's all good!

  2. Wow, IJ, what do you really think? No, I don't think you are a heartless bastard. I DO think we, as intelligent, reasonable people, can have a discussion about how much we should attempt to promote equality (fairness) in things like income and tax burdens (if we shoot for equality at all).

    One interesting thing, though. If senators aren't entitled to keep their seats if they don't listen to their constituents, and their constituents demand free health care, shouldn't senators turn health care into an entitlement? Just something that the juxtaposition on your list of entitlements makes me think…

    1. Heh. I'm not beating around the bush on this.. I suspect I'll have a few mean comments from readers. Which is fine. I would love to have an intelligent debate on this and/or prove me wrong.

      You are correct about the juxtaposition and I believe that's Financial Samurai's position. Everything is good.

  3. Preach on, Junkie!

    You're absolutely right. No one is entitled to anything. I think too many of us forget that sometimes.

  4. You are not a heartless bastard you are a Normal Person that understands that there are repruccusions for every gov't interference. Life isn't fair, nor do I want it to be otherwise what is the point of working harder, smarter, faster?


      1. Ah yes, I forgot you had a different alias then! lol. What's link baiting? I have no idea. I'm happy for anybody to link in my comments whatever they are referring to. It makes it easier to follow.

  5. Yes life isn’t fair and you’re not entitled to anything. But that doesn’t mean that someone should “suffer” just because they are born in the wrong place. We have the possibilities and the resources to provide education and healthcare, so why not? Because someone else has to pay a bit more taxes? We’ll just assume here that the taxes paid are 100% efficiently spent on stuff that needs it, for convenience sake.
    You bring up (practically) free health care, it works rather well in other parts of the world. Free is just an illusion of course, as it’s being paid for with the tax money. It gives poorer people a chance to have decent healthcare.

    Entitlement does not necessarily lead to mediocrity, a perfect example of that are universities in Europe versus universities in the US. It is apparently a lot easier in the US (bachelors), even though you pay huge admission fees in the US. For masters programmes the gap is a lot narrower apparently.
    That doesn’ t mean it’s all perfect in Europe though, egalization and required quota for the amount of students that have to pass definitely bring the level down.

    Neither extreme is good, it’s all about finding a balance that works well and this goes for pretty much everything (or so I believe).

    1. Hi Experimently thanks for visiting. Let me break down your comment line by line, since most of it contains hyperbole:

      "But that doesn't mean that someone should "suffer" just because they are born in the wrong place."
      Who exactly is suffering can you be clear on this generalization? Couldn't you say this about being born in North Korea instead of the US? What we consider "poor" in the US blows away most other countries. The stats on what the poor have in the US in mind boggling.

      Read my post on Financial Samurai's site about the poor here in the US:

      I'm not saying someone poor in the US has it made, but they aren't starving to death, or not getting health care in emergency situations.

      "We have the possibilities and the resources to provide education and healthcare, so why not? "
      We do?? Look at California budget crisis, and in general the costs paid to teacher pensions. Healthcare. Medicare won't have the funding available by some estimates 2017:

      So where is that money that we have available? The existing entitlements are not properly funded, so the logic is add more entitlements?? If we are so gung ho about entitlements, let's fix the ones we have already first? Wouldn't that logically make sense? Instead this existing administration is hell bent, to hell or high water, this existing heath care bill will get past.

      "Because someone else has to pay a bit more taxes?"
      A bit more?? Ah the top 10% of income producers pay 70% in all taxes.

      That's just federal, that's not state, local and any consumption taxes (which rich usually pay more)

      "We'll just assume here that the taxes paid are 100% efficiently spent on stuff that needs it, for convenience sake."
      That's a BIG assumption! So you are saying the government is more efficient than a person or businesses? Can you honestly state that with a straight face? I don't have exact stats but I have seen things like for every $1.00 taxed they get $0.50 out. The government has never been efficient.

      "You bring up (practically) free health care, it works rather well in other parts of the world."
      Let's use England, how is that country working out for ya? They are in even worse shape than us. France has always had much higher unemployment (not saying per heathcare per se) and Europe on the whole has had much lower GDP growth than we have. What do you think are the causes of these issues? For every action there is other reactions in order to support what you want ("free" healthcare and schooling). Also what may work with some of the countries, will they work in ours? Based upon how large and diverse a country we are, and government involvement, I'm not so sure. It’s a known fact that 1/5 of economy is based on health care. So we are going to do this grand experiment and see what happens?

      "It gives poorer people a chance to have decent healthcare."
      Actually history has shown (even with outside of heathcare) It overall lowers the standards. In addition, a two tiered healthcare would form.

  6. I wouldn’t exactly call it hyperbole, as I wasn’t limiting myself to the US or the western nations for that matter.

    “That’s a BIG assumption!”
    Well I absolutely agree with you that current issues need to be dealt with before embarking on a crusade to fix everything else, and of course spending the tax money more efficiently. So maybe it was too big an assumption.
    You are also right that it’s not because something works for one country, that it will work for another. But that I will leave to the people in charge to figure out.

    To your last part do you have any historical examples, I am curious to see what you meant by that.
    And yes that’d lead to a two tiered system, why is that bad though?

    1. "And yes that'd lead to a two tiered system, why is that bad though? "

      Isn't the ultimate goal is to ensure everyone is treated fairly and same? A two tiered system makes it unfair again. The laws would create the opposite effect on their intention.

      "To your last part do you have any historical examples, I am curious to see what you meant by that." Yea I'll find specific examples when I have a chance and post it to this thread.

  7. Unless you outlaw private medicine, you’ll always have a two tiered system I think. A good marketeer can sell anything and I figure they already have an easier time selling medicine to people.

  8. That's a brilliant video IJ! Brought me back to the good ol' days. I didn't realize that Dr. Seuss was so 'deep'!

    Heated discussion here =) i agree that we are not entitled to anything. I think Generation Y is brought up to think otherwise (I think we were the first ever cohort to receive gold stars and ribbons for doing jack sh*t). That's why all us young'uns are pissing the working world off with our mentality of: work less earn more, learn more, and spend more!

    1. Thanks for the comment. Actually I never mentioned any generation (I happen to be a gen Xer myself) Isn't it always the elders complain about the youngins? I see entitlement in people younger AND older. I really wasn't even thinking of a specific age group. Overall though I think people are in for a rude awaking in the next 5-10 years. A simple example is in the case of things like Social inSecurity either the age will increase or the amount doled out will decrease or both!

  9. Investor Junkie – you're absolutely right on this.

    The trouble is I've experienced two kinds of people who think like you and I do on this matter.

    One kind is awful, and the other kind are the self reliant entrepreneurs (or for that matter musicians or athletes or dedicated family members caring for a sicked love one or whatever who take responsibility).

    In my experience the first kind who believe as we do are far more prevalent. "Life isn't fair," they shout from their sports car as they drive through a puddle and drench the masses.

    I hope I'm the second kind of person who believes in personal responsibility, and not the first. But perhaps we can never be sure about ourselves, from the inside?

    1. Very good point. Yea I can definitely see how someone might think the first way about me. For me it's about personal responsibility without question. Own up to your actions. Don't blame someone else. My wife and I actually live a pretty simple life. Do I like some material things? I would be lying if I didn't say yes. In the end though I don't buy to impress I buy for myself. In the end I can honestly not care with others think of me. Life is too short to worry about that. I've learned you have to make yourself happy first before you can make others happy.

  10. Awesome article! There certainly is too much of a feeling of entitlement in people these days. And it’s people who don’t want to put in the work that seem to have it the most.

    I believe the first Noble Truth of Buddhism is – All Life is Suffering. That goes for everyone.

    Dr. Suess’ work is genius! I’ve been reading his stories to my kids and I’m seeing the stories in a whole new light.

  11. There’s something deeply unsettling about this article..its hidden meaning is that nature doesnt give things equally to everyone and its humanly not possible to make all things equal, so lets keep them the way they are..I think such defeatist thoughts shouldnt let one understand that justice and equality are two of the most basic entitlements of mankind..thats how humans have evolved to know..No natural restriction can falsify that goal of absolute equality..We may start in the smallest scale to achieve equality but the ulitmate goal should be that man gets as per his efforts and abilities, not his birth..
    And that which can be corrected to make the whole homogenous, it would help us if we could make better use of science and technology at hand

    1. Sajit,

      We are CREATED equal, but we not equal in are ABILITIES. I know I’ll never pitch a 90 mph fastball. Should I expect society to make me equal to the professional baseball player? In many cases this means penalizing the professional player in some fashion to make them equal to me. Be it through regulations, taxes or other similar forms of control. I certainly do not expect this. Do you?

      It’s obvious no in the statement I made above yet many “social justice” people expect just that in other areas in our life. How is this any different?

      I do expect to be treated fairly based upon my abilities.

      Ok let’s ask some logical questions.

      Where does it end?
      – Humans for the most part at the top of the food chain. Should we make that equal?
      – Should dogs and cats be given the same human rights?
      – Who is the person or group of people to determine what’s fair and what isn’t?? Who made them the ultimiate authority?

      What you stated sounds nice, almost like in a fairy tail, but that’s not reality.

  12. As a Canadian, I’m amazed how much Americans hate socialized medicine. Canadians hold socialized medicine as one of the best things about our country.

    Other than that, I fully agree with this post. People can either whine about how life isn’t fair or they can get off their a$$ and do something about it.

    1. Hi Financial Uproar,

      Hey if it’s free it’s for me. Regarding Canada and it’s healthcare – why do border towns exist with Drs that specialize in patients who cross the border from Canada? At least from my opinion, socialized medicine works great for the simple stuff, but can be problematic for complex illnesses.

      The issue is what was passed in the USA is anything BUT socialized medicine. It was corporate cronyism. It won’t control costs and won’t improve our healthcare.

  13. Living in the USA, you do feel entitled to basic human rights, don’t you? By your logic, you shouldn’t expect to be entitled to anything at all. There’s nothing inherently wrong with striving to become entitled to things like health-care and education. It’s just an issue of where society agrees to draw the line.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button