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

Charles Brown cb31450 at gmail.com
Mon Mar 17 12:50:18 PDT 2014

Word, Snitgrrlll

On Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 6:41 AM, Shag Carpet Bomb <gracehinchcliff at gmail.com> wrote:
> Out of curiosity, what do they mean? What's a concrete example, to them?
> I'd ask for concrete illustrations.
> I ask because I suspect it's a boundary problem. If you put a boundary
> around time, f'rinstance, and only look at, say, 5 years it might look like
> it's not zero sum. Or if you put a boundary around space, same thing. It
> might look like wealth is a zero sum game in, say, Manhattan. But let's
> include West Virginia in that analysis... Or Bangalore.
> then there is the boundary problem as to who exactly is included in the
> population of beneficiaries: just humans?
> they will, of course, accuse you of moving the goal posts, I suppose. But,
> for me, I usually think it's good to get them to defend what they mean. If
> all they can say is, "not a zero sum game" and have no evidence, they are
> just yapping. They got nuthin'.
> SECOND, of course, is something someone else alluded to, what it means to
> be "wealthy" is always experienced as relative in this society.
> I always used the example of grades. I'm a teacher at a college and I say,
> "Hey, everyone in this class gets As". They all brighten.
> Then I say, you know, everyone who majors in econ should get As, too. The
> econ majors are ecstatic.
> Aw, hell, why don't we give As to everyone who attends this college.
> Cheers. Except then ask them what they think the reputation of the school
> will be? not much if it's easy to get an A, right.
> Now, of course they will respond to say that, sure, there will always be
> great disparities. Those are necessary. It's just that all boats must rise
> with the tide. And then they will jabber on about how the poor in
> Appalachia have running water, flat screen TVs, and Martha Steward cookware
> or some crap.
> And then you say, "Really guys? Really? Flat screen TVs are the measure of
> wealth?"
> Nevermind just showing them the freaking numbers from the Luxembourg income
> studies.
> and then ask them why the percentage of wealthy who 10% own something like
> 90% of the wealth has stayed the same or there abouts since we've been
> studying it. How is that not zero sum? They will keep jabbering on about
> "rising tides".
> None of them will talk about wanting to living in Appalachia with a flat
> screen TV, a doublewide, and a Martha Stewart rice cooker.
> Shag
> At 10:02 AM 3/11/2014, charlie herbert wrote:
> I'm mostly not very confident of my grasp of left criticism of the economy
> and yet am a long time subscriber here, happily gleaning what I can glean.
> I'm in a conversation right now where I'm being hit with "wealth is not a
> zero sum game." Because I had a superficial understanding of it at first I
> did a teeny bit of googling and found it is a major talking point with
> apologists all over.
> My point in the conversation is basically that our current system is
> incredibly exploitative both of natural resources and labor. They repeat
> the wealth is not a zero sum game. Is this just wrong, a red herring?? any
> pointers.
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