Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Zero Sum Fallacy and the CBTE

Unc linked up to K's Cock Block theory of Economics with his own comment here:
Somethings are zero sum games, as in for one person to gain, another has to lose. Futures are a zero sum game, as is poker. A few things aren’t and this is the basis of the cock block theory of economics. I’m not so sure. Despite the fact there is a seemingly limitless amount of money since the feds just keep printing it, there are only so many resources. So, I don’t think the theory works so well with respect to those resources.
This is particular pet peeve of mine because although some resources are limited, the ability to create wealth in particular is not zero-sum. This is what the Cock Block Theory of Economics is all about. This is the comment I left at Unc's:

Resources ARE limited, depending on which resources you're referring to. Physical resources are limited, as is time.

However, humans have one resource that we never seem to run out of: our ability for ingenuity and creativity. The ability to add value to either a produce or a service or prevent value from being lost is what people pay other people to do. This is the very basis of wealth creation and why, even with limited resources, we've gone from being at the mercy of nature to warm water-tight homes and cheap food that we didn't need to grow ourselves.

When someone is attempting to make money by adding value and they are continually hampered in their efforts by a bureaucracy (which adds no value of its own) does anyone win? The bureaucracy feeds itself for a short time off of the labor of others, and some moronic voter gets to feel good because they made the world "more fair". However, who knows what would have happened if that inventor didn't need to spend days each year dealing with insane paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles. Maybe they would have discovered a real alternative to gasoline or a house-cleaning robot if they'd just been able to devote more time to the task.

There are tons of people who spend all day, every day, preventing others from accomplishing any kind of wealth creation. Lawmakers, bureaucrats, lawyers, rivals, competitors using methods other than competition (sweetheart deals, friends in the administration), leeches of all sorts. What good could they accomplish if, instead of focusing on making life harder for the truly productive, they spend their time learning how to add value themselves?