Many people today assume that life is ideally supposed to be fair, so they take it as self-evident that others must be forced by law to provide various things from within their own resources, in order to make everything fair. In other words, everyone has to share nicely even if they don't want to. Just like we learned in kindergarten, except this time there is the force of law behind it. The assumption is that the pursuit of fairness justifies legal interventions that redistribute wealth, even when that entails an encroachment upon liberty. 'Because fairness!' is the modern rallying cry behind every legal intervention. This is particularly so in the world of work. We expect employers to be fair to workers and we expect all workers to be treated equally, because that way it's fair. Ultimately everyone should end up with more or less equal amounts of wealth, so that it's fair. The desire to achieve a moral ideal in society is certainly compelling. Most people would like to expend their efforts making the world a better place. The only problem is: Other People. When other people don't agree with your vision of the good life, coercion by force of law becomes necessary.
Here's where many people embrace Rawlsian perspectives: Rawls offers conceptual tools to explain why it's unfair for other people to be richer than you, without the need to rely on less worthy conceptual tools such as envy, jealousy and bitterness about other people's advantages in life. There are two main elements to Rawlsian 'high liberalism':
The idea of equality of wealth is implicit in the notion that every social class should benefit from the way society is ordered. This is why 'high liberalism' regards free markets with deep suspicion. In a free market, every horse starts the race from the same position (formal equality or equality of opportunity) but by the time the race is run, there are winners and losers and some horses sadly crashed out before finishing the race. This is obviously not fair, as it is attributable to 'arbitrary factors' that favoured one horse over the other e.g. one horse had the advantage of eating a better quality breakfast that morning. No matter which way you view it, a free market is never going to produce equal outcomes, and so it follows that a free market is never going to be fair if equal distribution is viewed as essential to fairness.
Framed in that way, the idea is that we must reluctantly tolerate certain limits in the quest for fairness in order to avoid descending into farce.
This is a very odd way of approaching life. You wouldn't approach a race by saying that in an ideal world all the horses would finish the race at exactly the same time so that it's fair, but alas we must tolerate the possibility that one horse might well outrun the others and unfortunately finish first. Far from celebrating, the jockey who wins the race should feel a bit guilty for allowing his arbitrary advantages to put his horse ahead of the others. Perhaps he could assuage his guilt by paying a higher rate of tax? The proceeds could be given to the jockeys that came in last. That would help redistribute things so that it's fair. It's either that or such races should be banned. Good times...not really.
That way of looking at life is no fun at all, is it? Where's the joy in that? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, my friends, not life, liberty and the pursuit of fairness. Human endeavour and progress is not something to be sad and apologetic about, not even if it produces unequal outcomes. So what if it's unequal? Who cares? Run your best race, enjoy the run, revel in your own abilities, and don't get consumed with bitterness if someone else ran faster or further.