The swamp is where the injustice arises. It’s where the win-lose deals are forced onto people. It is where waste, corruption and larceny steal their time and money.
We don’t have to know whether a new law or new policy will actually do what its proponents say it will do. We just have to ask: Win-lose? Or win-win?
In the ‘public’ space, as a general rule, deals must be win-win…or the average person will lose. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not do win-lose deals.
Because only win-win deals add to wealth, choice and prosperity.
In a private deal, you can make money by taking it from someone else. But not everyone can make money that way. So, as a general rule or policy, it won’t work. It won’t make the average person better off.
In fact, it will make him worse off. Partly because of the friction, waste and disincentives it creates. And partly because the average guy is never the winner in a win-lose deal.
Who feels the burden of the yoke? Who is the victim of injustice?
Is it Wall Street, with its millions in contributions to the feds and its key men filling the most powerful posts in the administration? No.
Or the Northern Virginia military/security insiders who have received as much as $50 trillion (in today’s dollars) of taxpayers’ money since the Second World War? No.
What about the cronies with their insider deals? The zombies with their payoffs and hush money? The Washington-New York-California establishment? No, no and no.
Holdup men, shysters and bully boys
We’ve gotten considerable feedback on our formula. Some good…some bad…and some that leaves us scratching our head. (Modestly, we’ll put our formula up against Thomas Piketty’s silly ‘r>g’ formula any day.)
[Editor’s Note: In his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Piketty surmised that returns on capital (r) grow faster than the economy (g).]
Ours is not a universal formula, however. It is not like the second law of thermodynamics or ‘All you need is love.’ It is just a description of how a civilised economy works.
And it seems to lead to a shocking and impossible conclusion. If win-win is good and win-lose is bad…why do we have a government at all? Every one of the government’s deals is win-lose.
‘Did you know that there are robber bees?’ asked a local beekeeper on Saturday. ‘They don’t gather honey. They just steal it from other hives. We have to keep an eye out for them.’
Yes, dear reader, there are bees that practice win-lose, too. The robber bees win. The robbed bees have less.
Our formula doesn’t tell us what to do about them… It only tells us that we’d be better off without them. And we’ll accept the cost of preventing and deterring them, doing our best to keep it as low as possible.
But that’s just life, isn’t it? There are inevitably some holdup men, shysters and bully boys. And, as far as we know, there is inevitably government.
Some win-lose deals — imposed by the feds — may be necessary. But what the formula tells us is that Jefferson was right. The fewer of them you have, the better off you are.
‘The government that governs best,’ he said, ‘governs least.’
In order for Trump to govern well, he must reduce the reach of government. He must drain the swamp.
He must chase the moneylenders out of the temple…send the soldiers back to their barracks…and stop old people from exploiting the young.
Tall order? You betcha…
For Markets and Money, Australia
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