The importance of the “prisoner’s dilemma” and game theory

A basic article on this is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner’s_dilemma
The basic situation is one where two parties are put in a situation where each party individually does better by backstabbing the other, but the net effect if each backstabs the other is worse for each than if they had both cooperated.
A lot of situations in life are analogous in some way to that.
A related concept is the “tragedy of the commons”, the situation where if say there are fertile fields or fishing grounds that anybody may exploit, the players all try to get as much as they can out of the “commons” destroying what could otherwise be a sustainable resource- and if you curtail your own activity out of a sense of responsibility, that just costs you money without changing the outcome, so there is little incentive for good behaviour.
Fordism has a similar structure to a prisoner’s dilemma, but on a larger scale.   If there are a few defectors that are contributing nothing to the economy by taking jobs elsewhere, then making sales at incredible profits, they do well at the expense of everybody else but it doesn’t necessarily break down the system at the start when there are few.   So it looks tempting to others, who seek to emulate the success.   Past a certain point though you reach a critical mass and the result is disasterous for everybody.  The few remaining corporate good citizens wind up having to find ways to cut costs or go out of business.  The process of offloading jobs to pay foreign people 10 cents an hour isn’t an innovation or success through wizardry, it’s a cheat that enables some companies to freeload off the good citizenship of others.   You can’t have everybody freeloading though, you can’t have a successful economy that is all parasitic with no foundation.
These ideas are a few of the reasons that government will always be necessary.   Leave business to its’ own devices and sometimes the internal logic of the situation alone can lead to instability.
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Media, not Tea Party, sends the loudest message about who is in charge

So the turnout of voters under 30, disproportionately Democrats, was something around 13% in this election.  Having been convinced by the media that the Republicans were unstoppable, why would they show up?
So the right wing media have again shown an ability to generate a self-fulfilling prophecy through misleading journalism.  That at all times the population eligible to vote had a much lower view of the Republicans was consistently suppressed, and instead soft numbers about probable voters instead of eligible voters was used to generate the self-fulfilling prophecy.
If the media had done the same thing to affect the price of a stock there would probably be arrests, but deliberately misleading the public with false news to generate an election outcome for some reason is tolerated.   That kind of behaviour by the media belongs in Stalinist Russia.
The election is portrayed by the media as being about the economy, but it couldn’t be about that. The results were a large swing in favor of the party that destroyed the economy, and other polls that were published stated that the voters were aware that Bush and Wall Street are mostly to blame for the economy.   Electing people that want to repeal the new constraints on Wall Street is an unintelligible response.
The media did it’s best to generate a climate of alleged “voter anger” directed at the Democrats, and pimping the Tea Party, while making no effort to educate voters that the Tea Party and Republicans generally want to go against the voters’ stated objectives.
The 2008 collapse, which had been building since 2004, was a direct result of corporate lawlessness and a failure of the government to adequately regulate.  Only a complete idiot could honestly believe that an excess of regulation and too much government interference were what led to the economic collapse.
Again, I don’t see the people in charge of the Tea Party as people that believe in freedom from government.  Quite the opposite, they are about oppression by fraudulent government, seeing government as little more than a propaganda organ of big business.   Much like Stalinists, but  in favor of big business rather than big labor.   Given the facts, the position that the economic problems are a result of too much regulation is Orwellian.  It is what Goebbels would say.  The Tea Party does not represent a return to honest government and honest government is the worst fear of their leadership.
Polls suggest that the electorate want jobs, and again the right wing have successfully confused them.  The right wing is about closing jobs here and sending them to East Asia.   The right wing is famous for “jobless recoveries”.   If you want jobs, don’t vote for a Republican.  Ever.
The Tea Party people now want to cut government spending.  If there is a way to do that to a meaningful degree without cutting lots of jobs, I’ll be duly impressed.  The only way that the Tea Party and Republicans can do what they’ve said they are going to do is if they do the opposite of what the country wants- cut even more jobs, which will take more money out of the economy, lead to more foreclosures, and speed up the economic death-spiral.   Selective cuts, especially to things like military junk, may be manageable.
For the most part stimulus spending is a waste of time- a trillion dollars now so that we delay the collapse for a year or two and make every subsequent year worse, is just a bad idea.  Better to take the medicine now althought it is never politically popular to tell the public that doing nothing is the best option.  There may of course be some specific cases where the cost-benefit is there and in particular we can’t lose track of spending on preventative maintenance on infrastructure now will probably save greater expenses in the future.
The central problem of the few Tea Party and Republicans who want the country to improve is that it is not possible to turn the country around with their model.  Central to any recovery has to be that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy laws apply in the same manner to low minimum wages as they do to government subsidies.   The Fordism model for building America cannot work if every business can opt out of it without consequences and move production offshore.   Whether a company has an advantage through a subsidy by the people through the government or is subsidized by the people by low labor costs is only a difference in semantics.
The right wing is creating an environment in which it will only be possible for America to compete by reverting into the equivalent of a third world country.
This global “race for the bottom” doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Better to tell corporations  that if they break with the program, they break with it completely, and if they want to make shoes with laborers in Thailand making 10 cents per hour, then they can go see how much they sell to the Thais.   Otherwise they are freeloaders being carried by everyone else.
Another problem, the demographic bulge with the baby boomers, can only be resolved by going against the other right wing agenda and opening up immigration.  A good immigration policy can smooth out the demographics.   A number of billionaires have called for an improved immigration policy for presumably this reason. If you have too much of your population retired there is a huge burden on the remaining workforce.  The longer the wait to open the borders the worse the problem will be as people aren’t going to just walk into the country and immediately pick up all of the slack.
The “Tea Party” types have tied their hands by confusing empirical issues with philisophical issues and have said, essentially, that they will vote against anything that could possibly work.   Doing more of what got America into this hole in the first place is just going to dig that hole deeper.

Palin and Beck Orwellian

Some 30 years on in the right wing economic agenda, with nothing to show for it but disaster after disaster, and a steadily declining standard of living, we now hear from such luminaries as Palin and Beck that we need to exercise our “second amendment rights”- (i.e. kill our fellow citizens?) to have a revolution so that we can have…exactly the same policies as we have for the past 30 years that have led to nothing but failure and impoverished billions.
How it would be a revolution to take up arms to do what is little more than defending and furthering a corrupt existing order, I don’t know.  It is hard to see it as anything other than Orwellian doublespeak.
One of the more common delusions is of a “free market”.  The operational definition of “free market” seems to be an arrangement where privately owned businesses take great risks and if they make money by fair means or foul, they keep all of it, but if they run into trouble, they morph into socialists.   Proper regulation could avoid both ends of the problem.  The lack of appropriate regulation creates needs for bailouts and even more interference by government than if there had been an appropriate level of interference in the first place.
The right wing has been consistently preaching financial responsibility for 30 years while the left wing has been practicing it.   Put a democrat in power and the balance sheets usually tend to adjust quickly.   Put Republicans in and the finances spiral out of control.    But because they replace Democratic expenses that help people and give ordinary people jobs with far more expensive programs that center on killing people, the military, they consider themselves more responsible.
When Bush and friends left office, they had created a stimulus plan that was supposed to turn the country around.  The incoming Congress and President had little alternative but to ratify what the previous administration had already planned unless they were to stall and take more time for debate.  Obama has huge problems to deal with, most of which he inherited from the younger Bush.   Now a plan formulated under a Republican administration [yes, in consultation with a number of Democrats who are also guilty of it] is being rebranded as a Democrat abomination.    Never mind that 30 years of terrible decision making by mostly Republicans came to a head with the crisis, or that the Democrats were continuing policies arrived at by Bush and his appointees.    Of course the stimulus plan was a terrible idea with many Democrat (and Republican) backers, but rebranding it as a Democrat idea is pure fiction.
The key underlying problem with tea party types is exactly the same as the key problem with Stalinists.   Utopians of every flavour tend to follow a similar trajectory.
The first step is to have a simplistic world view and believe that if everybody adhered to this ideal that all conflict would magically dissipate and everybody would live in peace and happiness.
The second step is, because the utopian’s simple solutions never work, to create a mythical fall from grace and scapegoats.   The fall becomes due to women because Eve ate an apple, or Jews, or some other race or alleged conspiracy.   Utopians are generally fanatics.  Their reasoning goes that if everybody was on the same page, their system would work.   The system does not work, and therefore that is because not everybody is on the same page, not everybody is pure enough.   That leads to purges, threats of violence and an insistance that if only more people would follow the dogma everything would be fine.   The solution proposed is usually even more extreme than that which is already not working.    Decades of setbacks do not prove that the idea is refuted, they prove that the “wicked” have been getting in the way and only through purification can there be progress to the utopian ideal.
Utopianism seems to be more of a defect of the white race, the others don’t seem to get as confused or stay confused for as long.
Utopians tend not be great students of history.    There was a time when the economy was almost unregulated.   It was not a Utopia.  In the early Industrial Revolution the conditions were so bad that if not for the reforms in the early 20th century it probably would have been better if there had never been an industrial revolution at all.   Lack of regulation led to great boom and bust cycles, to the detriment of everybody, including most business owners.    The conditions were so horrific that Marxism gained a great deal of traction.   And if the majority of the population is subjected to those conditions again, Marxism or something like it will spring up again for the same reasons.   We have all the empirical evidence that we could ever need that blanket deregulation or lack of regulation is a disaster.
Utopians tend to not be good with facts or common sense.   Henry Ford was no Marxist, actually reputed to have been a Nazi sympathizer, but he realized that workers have to make enough money to buy products.   There is no use having an assembly line that makes cars if almost nobody has the resources to buy a car.  Notwithstanding his unsavoury politics, his economics is basic common sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fordism
A country without a middle class cannot have a thriving economy.   Yet eradicating the middle class and reducing the bulk of society to subsistence wages so they can’t buy anything but subsistence products is the primary objective of the right wing in western civilization since Reagan.
You see, the battle is not between left wing economics and right wing economics, it is between the “supply side” and Reaganomics people vs. Ford economics.  Ford economics built America and Reaganomics and supply side economics destroyed it.
There have been a number of Tea Party type movements in the past, with usually mixed results at best.  The Nazis were one such movement.  They put a guy like the new Glenn Beck in charge and that didn’t go so well.   The French did a little better but Robespierre got drunk on power and paranoia and after he took out the trash he started taking out everything else, including former allies.  Once people get a taste for doing things that way the genie doesn’t go back in the bottle.  Maybe the best outcome of such a movement was with Julius and Augustus Caesar, albiet again resulting in the appointment of a dictator.
Not really something to aspire to.  Is there anything wrong with going back to what worked?