# [lbo-talk] wealth is not a zero sum game

Arthur Maisel arthurmaisel at gmail.com
Thu Mar 13 16:09:33 PDT 2014

b = a

ab = a^2 ab - b^2 = a^2 - b^2

b(a - b) = (a + b)(a - b)

b = a + b

b = b + b

b = 2b

1 = 2

This is "true" for b = 0, but therefore the entire chain is against the rules (results like this are why).

I think there is something similar wrong with "Capital, like any product of nature, must be zero sum"---capital is a product of nature? Well, yes, we are part of nature, but the logic here seems to be that nature is smooth---all one thing---which is obviously wrong. It is lumpy, with entropy increasing overall, but decreasing locally, with the total of energy being constant in the universe, but increasing in one place and decreasing in another. I believe that the statement is akin to saying E = M (which is true, but not very useful), and leaving out the c^2, which is what allows for the local frames of reference to be related to one another.

Couldn't this reasoning be used for purposes opposite to what I'm sure was intended? For example, to say to someone, "True, you are starving, but somewhere else, someone is having a nice meal---so it's okay: it all balances out."

On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 12:17 PM, Michael <mcatolico at mindspring.com> wrote:

> Capital, like any product of nature, must be zero sum (think e=mc^2).
>
> Where the apologists obscure this is when they focus on "growth" which is
> a factor of both scale (more workers being born) and productivity
> (exploitation or making people and technology/tools squeeze more output out
> of similar input).
>
> Given that production has to be zero sum, it stands to reason that
> distribution of profit is mathematically, irrefutably zero sum.
>
> Michael
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