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Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Explorer, Oct 28, 2016.
AIDS SKRILLEX STANDS WITH YOU
"Although the Soviet Union was victorious in World War II, its economy had been devastated in the struggle. Roughly a quarter of the country's capital resources had been destroyed, and industrial and agricultural output in 1945 fell far short of prewar levels."
Also, the war cost Russia 20-27M (some even say up to 40M) men of reproductive and working age, out of a total pre-war male population of ~85M. By comparison, the US lost about 400,000 troops (and very few civilian casualties).
Yes and no.
A zero-sum game is a simple economic model that I bring up because it fits the discussion really well. A positive-sum game is probably a better economic model in a postwar world, since complex non-competitive dynamics arise between countries -- so economic experts would sometimes pop in to say the simple zero-sum game is not appropriate. They're right - there are more issues at play.
However, ultimately, there are (we believe) finite resources in the universe and so at the most macro scale, in the grandest view of economics, it is a zero-sum game: someone utilizing a resource does so at the cost of your potential use of that resource. So any expert that says economics isn't a zero-sum game is technically going to be wrong, though they're only because they were trying to be useful (and there's nothing useful about talking about winners in the heat death of the universe).
Buuuut I'm talking about the simplest model and applying it in a limited fashion, and it should be obvious why. At its coarsest level, there are producers and consumers. When you take half of the world's producers and turn them into consumers, the remaining producers are in a better position to prosper. WWII was a lot like this.
I really don't know why people like to pick against this claim unless they just want to argue. To be clear, arguing against this point is basically saying that Geramny, Japan, China, Ukraine, or any of the other totally ravaged countries had a comparatively greater competitive advantage in postwar WWII in comparison to the US. This is true of the USSR in terms of manpower (but not infrastructure) -- maybe that's why it was US policy to push them into a war of economics they were destined to lose.
Yeah, yet another teenage low-post count arrogantly ignorant newbie. Time to get off mommy's computer, put on your jammies, brush your teeth and go to bed. You're obviously up past your bedtime and cranky.
Oh God. That hurt. You're saying.. I'm bad at the online message board?
Man. I don't know how I'm gonna recover from that one babe.
We get it, man. Sarcasm is super cool. The wittiest person I know? Daria.
However, this is the discussion subforum, so if you're not here to discuss you're wasting everyone's time. And people who are purposely wasting people's time here tend not to last very long in this
"Strictly moderated forum, so use your better judgement when posting."
Really. What ElRay said is cool, but what I said isn't?
Why are you wasting time warning me? Go get me kicked off!
I'll keep being a dick if you don't.
That's not my bag. If you keep (intentionally...maybe unintentionally) being a dick, you'll be dealt with and I couldn't really care less.
You seem to be pretty offended. You keep replying to me babe.
If you're not expecting a reply, maybe don't ask a question.
There is a reason why most economics 101 classes are complete BS (ask any economist) and that's essentially illuminated by your argument above. You're playing reductio ad minimum here, trying to remove all but one (albeit essential) factor, from worldwide, highly complex, macro-economics. In it's most very basic form, yes, economics is a zero sum model:
Take bartering as an example. If I give you my goat, I no longer have a goat. If you give me clothing in return, you no longer have clothing, but you have a goat, and I have clothing. Thus, zero sum.
But this is so completely not how modern macro-economics works. The very fact that most major economies are not on the precious metals (gold/silver/platinum/etc) standard anymore should suffice to prove this point. Nor does it really relate to how post WWII economics worked:
Russia lost between 1/4 to 1/3 of its male working population. 20-40M people. And it lost at least 25% of it's net economic worth. The reason it was able to "recover" so quickly involves so many complex issues, such as massive cooking of the books by Stalin, communism where the wealth of the state superseded the wealth of the population, something like 80% of the GDP spent on the gov't and military, alcoholism driving a negative population growth, the age of modern medicine (antibiotics; many communicable diseases that caused lost population productivity were considered eliminated; see central Africa for this effect), complex driving forces such as the Marshall and Truman Plans, etc. What it does not involve is a transfer of wealth through zero sum processes.
Let me tell you one fun fact that serves as a microcosm, and is just plain hilarious IMO: The communist state paid workers to build lamps. You had to build something like 4 an hour (I forget actual # and its irrelevant) and there was no incentivization to build more or with respect to quality. So workers built lamps that fell apart, had electrical shorts, and where the glass was so weak it would shatter if you looked at it wrong. Years later after the collapse of the soviet union, it was found that there were warehouses on top of warehouses filled with these shotty lamps. Why? Because they couldn't sell them they were so defective. Guess what? The communist gov't didnt care. Why? Because they were NOT playing a zero sum game with their economy. Workers got paid even though no one was buying.
Money isn't like conservation of matter and energy, which is zero sum, because it can neither be created nor destroyed (Information Theory). Modern paper money, and much of what makes up "wealth", isn't a tangible physical thing. Money can be easily created or destroyed... the 2008 US housing bubble was estimated to have "lost" around $13T worldwide. The Zero Sum economic model doesn't hold for confounds that large lol. The US Federal Reserve acts as a choke, driving inflation, determining the value of your unit of currency (non zero sum). Heck, just the devaluation of a national currency can change your net worth without physical currency changing hands (i.e. contrary to zero sum modeling). There was a point where the Euro was so devalued against the US dollar, I almost could have bought a Blackmachine for fair value haha.
^^ We don't need a sophisticated model of economics for this discussion, and btw this is the post that seems to have started this detour:
America prospered because it benefitted from a zero-sum type of dynamic. In a global postwar economies market, the USA was poised to deliver new technology exports, most of Europe was not. Russia just wasn't subject to the same heavy infrastructure loss of being a small country hosting two invasion battles -- but I never said they benefitted strongly from this.
I really don't understand your argument, nor the usage of game theory, so I guess we'll just agree to disagree. I'll just leave this here instead:
It's a super simple point so I'm a bit baffled how it incites long replies about Russia. The point is this: casualties and damages from WWII left the US with few economic competitors, which significantly helped the US prosper in the decades following WWII.
Honestly I don't know anyone who would argue against that, but welcome to SSO.
If you keep repeating "economics is a zero sum game," it doesn't make it true. The statement itself is too big a blanket.
One instance of economics not being a zero sum game is value added by manufacture. You take raw material worth x, and labour worth y, and sum them together and get something larger than x+ y.
War is a negative sum game. If you red team blows up blue team's base, and blue team responds by blowing up red team's supply cache, and then red team kills blue team off in a battle, losing half of their own troops, who comes out ahead?
...and war is part of economics, for sure, so no, economics is not a zero sum game.
But we've already had several pages of this discussion in another thread.
To come back to the actual topic of this thread, I think that there are too many people who do not understand the difference between fairness and equal treatment.
If a county has more black people arrested in a week than white people, it gets reported on the news as unfair. The news won't look into how many of those arrests were legitimate, though. I have a big problem with that. If there was no foul play, then why does anyone give a .... what colour skin the people wore who were arrested? Maybe there are more black people living in that county, or maybe the black people who live there commit more crimes.
Now, if the police station released a memo that said "arrest black people" then we have a huge problem. If there is so much as one instance of a person being arrested for being black and not having done anything wrong, then we have a huge problem (I think we've seen instances of this too often over the last couple years even), but you pull up statistics and get offended by them without looking deeper into the facts, and you make a hasty conclusion, and that's all. Maybe something is wrong, but the statistical data do not show what is wrong, they only show a trend.
Same for the pay of women versus men, but in that case, companies have done a good job keeping things secret enough that it's difficult to find clear single cases of wrongdoing. However, I have seen magazine articles that stretch even that too far. I've seen enough to believe that women get paid less than men. I think equal pay for equal work is the way to go, but I think equal benefits need to go along with that, as well as equal responsibilities. I have yet to see any employers really embrace any of those ideas in the USA, as even restaurant chains that pay minimum wage seem to pay women less for the same job (even if it's a couple pennies).
But, on the other hand, at least in my field, women have it a lot easier to get hired. If you are a physicist and you are female, there are hundreds of scholarship opportunities that you would not have as a male; and there are a lot of government incentives for hiring women in high tech jobs, meaning that employers are more motivated to hire females than males. Truth be told, though, women, on average, just are not as interested as men in jobs like mine. I'm sure there are women out there who would be thrilled and do a great job, but they are honestly not that easy to find. So employers look to hire women for jobs like mine, to qualify for diversity assistance, and to pay someone less salary, but they don't hire these women simply because those women do not apply for the job.
I have never repeated it without contextualizing it. The fact of the matter is, as a statement, it is true. The universe is a closed system, we have finite resources, and resources utilized by one person come at the cost of their use by another person, in a limiting case. That's too abstract to be useful to anyone, but I hope it highlights the fact that the usefulness of whatever game theoretic model someone applies to economics must be assessed with respect to whatever phenomenon they are discussing.
Sure, if you're talking about some purely war-time phenomenon with heavy losses incurred on both sides where both parties suffered production losses with respect to their prewar state, that's negative sum. But...that's not the phenomenon I'm discussing.
There are also instances of positive sum economics I could throw out there. This doesn't make positive sum the correct model. It merely means that if I narrow my scope to a particular time, and a particular relationship between sets of people, I find behaviors that fit this model. It should be obvious that no coarse-grained game theoretic model is going to be a good fit for all of humanity's economic behavior. When I brought up zero sum I was discuss a particular time in which one nation's ascendence to an economic superpower was paved with the handicapping of essentially ever major economic competitor.
Or was it?
Actually, the laws of thermodynamics (entropy, third law) means that the resources in the universe are depreciating over time. Universal resource economics is a negative sum game, as well.
That was only one of two counter examples I gave. If you make an absolute statement, though, you kind of open yourself up to any counterexamples.
Exactly. So it's not zero-sum, like I said, it's more complex than that. See my original post from weeks ago where you started arguing with me back then.
The USA took a hold of a lot of opportunities after WWII, for sure. But, in this thread, what was your point in bringing that up? Someone said that having weapons was what made the USA great in the first place. I'm failing to see how your arguments since you took issue with his statement have been consistent (even though you've accused me of being all over the place with my point).
If you want to believe that the development of nuclear technology in the USA had nothing to do with US economic prosperity nor anything to do with the end of WWII, you just go right ahead. And if you want to believe that the only reason the USA came out ahead in the war was because all of the other countries were too focused on bombing each other, and that the USA benefited solely from that and not from developing our own economy through hard work and invention during that time period, go right ahead. In fact, if you want to believe that WWII never happened, and it was all made up, and that Hitler is still alive, hanging out in Argentina with a bunch of supercentegenarian Nazis, go right ahead. But denying what's in the history books without some sort of profound point or some evidence of some sort, and repeating a lot of the catchphrases, and just kind of generally telling people they are wrong without a half-solid reason, then I don't really know that it's worth discussing stuff with you.
^^ Complete contortion of my original point, which was only to say that the US's economic prosperity had little/nothing to do with the notion of individual freedom (in particular as it pertains to gun ownership). Where you're going off to in that last passage, I don't know, but if you're going to restate what my argument is then do it using quotes and not your own imagination.
It's just that you're coming across as a non math major co-opting a term that isn't applicable here. The fact is, I can emphatically tell you that zero sum game theory simply does not describe worldwide macro-economics, nor does it describe politics and global diplomacy. The equilibrium is unknown, the values are unknown, and every positive move does not have an equally correlated negative move by another player.
According to the Nobel prize winning economist Stiglitz: "Whenever there are "externalities" where the actions of an individual have impacts on others for which they do not pay or for which they are not compensated markets will not work well. But recent research has shown that these externalities are pervasive, whenever there is imperfect information or imperfect risk markets that is always." Imperfect information, imperfect risk, nonzero equilibrium literally means NOT zero sum. So you are correct... it is a super simple point. And yes, welcome to SSO, where people without degrees in a subject correct people with degrees in a subject.
You brought up Russia and you're point there is also completely contradictory to historical fact. I already tried to explain why. But it is 180 degrees different from why the US became a superpower.
And the economic vacuum left by WWII is just one of many multi-factorial reasons why the US became the dominant economic superpower. Which again, is so not due to zero sum game theory.
So, whatevers... I've tried to explain it... I've linked articles to help... but in the world of SSO game theory, if you want to be correct this badly, then congratulations... you win!!!