You understand the need for a fine level of granularity.
If books can be had much cheaper from Ireland which I believe, for I bought Blackstone there for 24s. In transactions of trade, it is not to be suppos'd that like gaming, what one party gains the other must necessarily lose.
The gain to each may be equal. If A had more corn than he can consume, but wants cattle, and B has more cattle but wants corn, an exchange is a gain to each; hereby the common stock of comforts in life is increas'd.
Benjamin Franklin, reference is to William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England,now from the University of Chicago Press, 4 volumes, ; Franklin has here described the form of a positive sum game You die.
The original zero sum game. Von Neumann substantially invented the digital computer. He built the prototype in the basement of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, although it was later torn out, despite its historical value, because the Institute doesn't believe in machinery.
One of the most conspicuous and durable contributions of Game Theory is the distinction between positive, negative, and zero "sum" games.
A "zero sum game" means the values found at the end of the game or transaction are equal to the values at the beginning, so that the difference the "sum" of a substraction is zero.
Another way to look at it is that if one player ends up in possession of greater value at the end of the game than he did at the beginning, his gain must have come from the loss of the other player. Popular games, from chess to baseball, where one player wins and the other loses, are zero sum games because, where the only value is winning, one player wins and the other loses.
People with Cargo Cult conceptions of economics, where wealth simply exists in fixed quantities, and everyone deserves their slice of the "pie," will think of economics as a zero sum game, so that the successful have acquired their wealth at the expense of others.
A good example of that is in the original Wall Street movie , where "corporate raider" Gordon Gekko Michael Douglas flatly asserts that business is a "zero sum game," where money simply moves from losers to winners.
This reflects the Leftist, Cargo Cult ideology of director Oliver Stone and co-star Martin Sheen, who have consistently disgraced themselves with fawning adulation for communist dictator Fidel Castro. However, free economic transactions are generally positive sum games.
This was already understood with great clarity by Benjamin Franklin: The quantity of corn and cattle may be the same at the beginning and end of the exchange, but the surpluses of corn and cattle are useless in themselves to their producers.
In the end, each has more of what he can use and the value of the whole has increased. In free economic exchanges, neither party may get exactly what they want, since a vendor would always like to sell for more, and a buyer would always like to buy for less, but the voluntary nature of the exchange means that each must compromise with the other.
On the other hand, robbery is a negative sum game. The exchange is involuntary. One party is left with nothing, while the other party, the robber, has acquired goods that are worth less to him than they had been to the original owner. Usually, the best that the robber can do is recover a fraction of the value of his loot by selling it to a fence.
The fence will only buy at a deep discount. Very often the robber acquires things that were only of personal value to their owner and that the robber realizes will be worth nothing to him. So he throws them away. This is frequently the most painful aspect of burglary and robbery. Television sets or cash are usually fungible -- i.
Sometimes robbers deliberately destroy homes and personal items in acts of vandalism, just to express their contempt and hostility for their victims.
This is a particularly ugly manifestation of human nature, but not at all uncommon. The wicked not only have no sympathy for their victims; they despise them.
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