GPBP: Zero-Sum Game

In this episode of good politics, bad policies, we’ll take note of a zero-sum game fallacy. (Take everything that follows with this grain of salt: I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.) While we were evolving, things were pretty much static. If one member of our tribe gained status, it was at the expense of someone else. If one tribe gained territory or resources, it was at the expense of another tribe. Thus, we are wired to believe that if someone gains, it must be bad for someone else. See the assumption that, because free trade is good for the poorer country, it must be bad for the rich country. See also the assumption that, because free trade is good for (some) corporations, it must be bad for workers, either here or abroad. Enter the requirement that the government do something about the “problem” of China’s success.

How we dig out of this quagmire is the American story that Obama must tell. It is not a story of endless conflicts abroad but a potentially inspiring tale of serious economic, educational, energy and health-care mobilization at home.

Don Boudreaux has some sound analysis:

Finally, Chinese growth is good for the United States. The economic race is not like the Olympic race. It is not zero-sum. In the Olympics, if you win the gold medal, I can’t. In economics, both countries can grow together.

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