Re: Non-Zero-sum Island (was Re: Down With Democracy?)

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Fri Oct 05 2001 - 10:22:53 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 11:16 AM 10/4/01 -0400, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> >You don't make the rest of the world richer by taking away everything
> >that we have. That is a zero sum worldview typical of lefties who don't
> >understand economics.
> It depends. There's this island where a guy with a gun and a title rounded
> up all the shovels. A hundred other guys who'd like to work their plots of
> land can't do so, because the guy won't let them use the shovels. One day
> they get together and take his gun and shovels from him and start digging
> their gardens. A year later, there's all this extra produce from
> Non-Zero-sum Island.

Actually, it's not Zero Sum Island naturally. The extra produce is the
positive sum result of the guys using shovels rather than bare hands or
clamshells to till their land. It only became Zero Sum Island because
the only guy with a gun imposed Value Added Taxes on everybody' else's
productive output such that each other person only keeps that amount of
food they would have raised if they were still tilling with bare hands
and clamshells.

> There's another island where a lone genius with a gun and a machine he
> built himself out of old clams that makes shovels, which he keeps locked
> up. Same story, by the end.

Not quite. At first, there was just one shovel available in the first
growing season, that had to be shared among the ten farming guys. Thus
the fellow who produced the one shovel rented it out to each for 10% of
the crop of each farmer. Since the shovel allowed each farmer to double
their yeild, everybody is living in Positive Sum Paradise. The next
year, the guy produces two shovels, because he didn't have to focus on
producing his own food, and now there are twenty more people who can
farm, and the shovel maker is now raking in the proceeds of 3 full
farms, which allows him to hire two apprentices, so the next season they
are able to produce 6 shovels OR one tilling machine that can do the
work of ten shovels.....

> Now Mike will object that the guy with the shovels would never be so stupid
> as to act this way. He's always rented those shovels out and earned a fair
> slice of the work of the digging guys. Not only that, but on the day the
> digging guys come and take away his shovels they just use them to build
> sand castles and everyone starves.
> Lots of islands, lots of stories.

On the island where they just took the shovels and killed the shovel
maker because he was obviously bourgoisie, within ten years the shovels
wore out and everybody was reduced to farming with their bare hands and
being exhorted for not be patriotic little communists, and whoever
produced the least each year was taken out and shot for
counterrevolutionary activities and gold bricking. In ten years, only
two people are left alive on the island, and the surplus people from
Positive Sum Paradise move in to colonize the island, but are forever
blamed by the descendants of the two original survivors for ruining
their hunter-gatherer existence....

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