Conservatives sometimes invoke facts as if the factuality of a fact justifies it. Rush Limbaugh: "Life is not fair." Bill O'Reilly: "We live in a capitalist society."
But you can't say that life is not fair and leave it at that; for this allows the lefty to come back with, "Then let's make it fair!" After all, the mere fact that such-and-such is the case doesn't justify its being the case. Similarly with capitalism. You cannot just say that our economy is capitalist. You have to go on to explain why capitalism is a superior form of economic arrangement.
John Rawls wrote a very influential book entitled A Theory of Justice in which he articulates the notion that justice is fairness. Key to his book is what he calls the Difference Principle.
Rawls' Difference Principle implies that social and economic inequalities are justified only if they benefit the worst off in a society. (Cf. A Theory of Justice, Harvard UP, 1971, p. 60) There is more to it than that, but that is an implication of it.
But I can't see why one ought to accept the implication. Suppose A and B are from similar backgrounds. They work at the same type of job. Person A devotes himself to wine, women, and song. B, however, practices the old virtues, saves, invests, and then buys, improves, rents and sells mid-range real estate. Person A has enough throughout his life but dies with nothing. B dies with a net worth of 5 million USD, which is not that difficult to acquire these days given inflation and a reasonably healthy economy.
I would say that the economic disparity between A and B is justified whether or not the inequality benefits the worst-off. Of course, the disparity will benefit others, and maybe even the worst-off. As conservatives like to point out, poor people don't hire anybody. Our small-scale developer, however, will hire all sorts of people.
Liberals like Rawls seem to assume that there is something unjust about inequality as such. I don't see it. Of course, inequality that has arisen from fraud, etc. is unjust. But inequality as such? Why?
My tendency is to think that not only are some inequalities allowed by justice, but positively required by it. But this is a huge topic, and to discuss it properly one has to delve into the theoretical apparatus (original position, veil of ignorance, etc.) with which Rawls supports his two principles of justice.
My point du jour is simply that too many conservatives lack the intellectual equipment and/or training properly to defend conservative ideas. They have the right ideas but they can't articulate and defend them. I am talking about influential conservatives, the ones in the trenches of talk radio and television, people like Limbaugh and O'Reilly and Hannity. I am not talking about the conservatives in the ivory towers that few have heard of such as Victor Davis Hanson.