Zero-Sum Economics

Capitalism and the Wasted Pie Theory

Deborah Venable

March 2002

(Previously published elsewhere)


With government claiming ever so much more of the socialists’ finite economic pie, the bakers, (that’s us folks), have a tendency to burn as much of said pie as possible before serving it up to the greedy entities that won’t appreciate it anyway.  We just think the standards have been lowered in such things as education and morality – the standards of capitalism are teetering on absolute bankruptcy.  The fact that more and more wealth is being held in the form of representative value and controlled by way of misrepresenting real value contributes to an economic boondoggle that causes market collapses and fluctuating economic wellness.  It also leaves us wide open for the constant stream of socialist and communist critics of our proven capitalist system.  All of this is bad enough in peacetime, but as the war expands and commands more and more resources, this “dumbed-down” system of capitalism could begin to overcome us.


Unless you have a natural leaning toward bean counting, all this probably sounds like so much blather – just one more tired theory on economic security.  As a veteran of struggling with balance sheets and budgets, both business and personal, as well as the courses of study in accounting for business prosperity, I know that practically anything is a more interesting read than a paper on economic theory.  You can go into the study of economics loving math and come out wanting to throw up when you encounter numbers!  For this reason, far too many people will go to any lengths not to have to deal with actual accounting of their wealth and resources.  Add to that an absolutely impossible tax code, and folks run begging for “professional” help.  Accounting firms are at the top of the list of “necessary” business services that do not produce any of the wealth they account for.  A close second would be the insurance industry.  Meanwhile, trying to find the responsible decision maker in business may turn out to be like hunting for a needle in a haystack.  I’m all for delegating authority in business, folks, but responsibility IS a zero-sum game.  There is only so much of that to go around!


Rush Limbaugh is known to lecture on the fallacy of the liberal/socialist theory of zero-sum economics, and I whole-heartedly agree with what he says.  The success of one does not have to be bought at the expense of another.  The redistribution of wealth via an overbearing system outside of free market capitalism will never produce a utopia that proponents hope for.  At best, this only widens the gap between the original haves and the have nots, with the latter group expanding while the elite have more by virtue of “managing” the whole thing.  In order to control the growing dissidence, even the best socialist or communist government will end up becoming the worst tyranny with freedom tossed out early on, and never recaptured without violent revolution.  It is truly sad that these crystal clear facts cannot be taught and accepted by all human societies.  In the early days of America, our most valuable export was that of capitalism itself.  That product alone was responsible for securing America’s freedoms and her international respect.  It has introduced the world to a hope for mankind that had not previously been viewed as possible.  This would not have happened if our Founders believed in zero-sum economics. 


The economic system we have today is but a shadow of its former self.  It has continued to deteriorate in direct relationship to our diminishing freedoms.  As those who thought they knew better continued to insist on changing the capitalism of yesterday to an enforced rush to spend the profits on bad choices, we are left with an evil collection of failure ridden economic policies.  We don’t make enough of our own decisions in freedom any more and we pass responsibility for what few we do make on to fabricated entities of fate.  With that said, I am ready to suggest the employment of the zero-sum theory in one capacity only – responsibility.  It IS very finite.  When one takes on responsibility, someone else gives it up.  It is removed from the pie – no questions asked.  The pie is topped with a corresponding amount of that luscious crowd pleaser – freedom.  Now, when THAT pie is finally served up, capitalism will return to what it truly should be – the hope of a prosperous humanity.


Sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it?  Individual responsibility goes hand-in-hand with individual freedom.  We used to know that.  Capitalism supplies the vehicle to achieve freedom while only exacting the price of responsibility.  Perhaps bean counting isn’t so dull after all.  Perhaps we can begin to weed through necessities and toss out some extravagance until we can better afford to lavish ourselves with freedom’s rewards once again.  If we get our own lives and businesses in order, the inefficiencies that exist in government will become glaringly clear.  The monstrosity of power that we’ve handed an ill-defined system of tyrannical rulers because we couldn’t be bothered to keep up with our own responsibilities is certainly not going to serve us well as it sits bloated from over-indulgence on our pie.  We’d better raise the standards back up and bake another one – without burning it this time.  Then we can all have a helping and act accordingly.  


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