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Response to Stuckinthebush (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 11:51 PM

35. The analogy assumes the rules of the economy are as simple and clearcut as the rules of a test.

On a test, the points for each question are imposed from above and are the same for everybody. There's no negotiating how many points a question is worth, no deal-making, and no difference just because the teacher went to school with someone's father, for instance.

In fact, turn it around: Say whoever gets the high score on a test makes the rules, and there's no teacher to make sure things are fair. What happens when the high score person makes the rule that everyone else has to give him a point, so that on the next test he has a head start on everyone else. He still has to get a good score on his own test to stay on top, but that boost is his reward for doing well on the previous test.

And once he gets the high mark again and gets to make the rules again, he increases how much everyone else has to give him: two points, then three and so on. After a few cycles of this, it gets to be impossible for anyone to beat his score. So something that might have been fair early on gets more out of whack once the one kid keeps making the rules and never has to answer to anyone else.

Even more, what happens when he starts making rules giving perks to second and third place, but he has so many extra points he can pass them out to his friends, or to people kissing up to him to get the perk. And they are bullies.

Money is property, like in the teacher's analogy, but it's also power, like in my analogy. And in America, we established separation of powers, and checks & balance to break up the concentrations of political power that would let people act without accountability to anyone else. We used to do the same with economic power: breaking up monopolies, top-heavy tax rates that made building businesses more attractive than liquidating them, regulations on ownership and what practices certain types of businesses could engage in.

Y'know, the teacher's analogy assumes there is an arbiter on high who keeps the test fair, so that taking points from one person and giving them to another really is unfair -- the teacher. In other words, the teacher is "big government" preventing a black market in point-trading from developing. Absent "big government", you start getting my scenario.

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