SzandorBlestman | Let’s say, for instance, that we’re two kids in a schoolyard. You have a small bouncy ball that I want. Sure, I could try to knock you down and take it from you if I was a bigger and stronger kid than you, but we all know that’s not very nice. That’s not a very good way to make friends. Not too many people like a bully. It’s also not very good economics. I might be happy, but you’re not going to be. We’ll call this theft. I think it’s safe to say that it’s more or less universally accepted that theft is wrong and those who engage in such practices need to stopped, punished and taught that theft is not acceptable no matter how big and strong one is.

Suppose then, that I decide to go about trying to obtain the ball in a more civil manner. I check in my pocket and find I have some jacks. So I offer you one in exchange for the ball. You’re not entirely certain about the trade, so I offer you two. You accept and now we’re both happy. Simple. One plus one equals two.

Now let’s make things a little more complicated. Little Jimmy has been watching us and wants to know what’s been going on. He comes over and sees your ball. Suddenly, he wants to trade for it too. He looks at what I’m offering and notices that my jacks are a little worn and slightly corroded. His are nice and new and shiny. It’s obvious that you, being the only one in the schoolyard with a small bouncy ball can now determine for yourself which person you want to trade with, if either, and the amount of jacks you can ask for. It’s not quite as simple as earlier, but it’s still voluntary and two of the three people are going to end up happy.

Now let’s go even further. Little Suzy has noticed three boys gathered together and wonders what it’s all about. She comes over and sees the colorful little ball and has decided she wants it too. It turns out she has candy to trade. Well, who wouldn’t trade a colorful little rubber ball for some sweet candy? The boys with the jacks are sweating it now as they dig in their pockets for more neat stuff to try to win the ball, and maybe even some candy. Things have become a little more complicated, but everyone’s more or less acting civilly toward one another and no one’s going to trade something for something else they don’t want.

Well, let’s say this goes on for awhile. Other children show up with marbles, more candy, more rubber bouncing balls, jacks, dice, cards, matchbox cars, all kinds of things to trade. There’s now a regular smorgasbord of trading going on. Everyone’s trying to find something to trade and something to trade for. It might look a little chaotic, but all the kids are more or less satisfied with the deals they’re getting. Some might be looking to trade up and get something to trade for something else, but others are getting exactly what they want and walking away. They are doing what kids do. And they are deciding for themselves what they want to receive and what they are willing to give up. Most of them are going to be happy with their trades, even those who decide to simply keep what they have and maybe try to trade again tomorrow.

Ah, but now a shadow creeps onto the schoolyard. He sees the large gathering of kids, and he doesn’t necessarily like what’s going on. He looks in his own pocket and finds that he doesn’t have much the other kids would want, and he smirks. He doesn’t think it’s very fair. Then he smiles. He realizes that he has something the other kids don’t have. He has his size and his muscles. He’s been held back a couple of years and he’s the biggest and strongest kid at school. He’s quite intimidating. We’ll call him Dick.

Dick has a pocket full of toothpicks and an idea. He marches over to the gathering determined to get a piece of the action. He quickly assesses the situation and makes the announcement that the students are no longer allowed to trade amongst themselves without his approval. There is too many of them crying that things are unfair. He is there to make sure that trade is kept as fair as possible. He is going to take all the stuff and in exchange he will give the kids an amount of toothpicks depending on the stuff they have. Only the kids he decides will trade in a fair manner will be able to trade the other stuff for the toothpicks. He will then allow the kids to use the toothpicks to get back their stuff and to “buy” other stuff. But, they’re not just regular toothpicks he’s giving out, they’re special toothpicks colored in a way only he can color them, with marks only he can make because he wants to be certain he’s the only one who can give out the toothpicks.

You would think the rest of the kids would just walk away at this point and take their fair trade somewhere else, but there’s a problem. What I neglected to tell you about Dick is that he hangs out with a few other big kids after school and they happen to know that if they don’t do as he says, it’ll be more than him they have to worry about. They know they’ll get beat up. These kids are scared. They know that defying Dick is not a smart thing to do if they want to avoid a beating. Most reluctantly give into his demands and go along to get along, despite how badly they may feel about themselves for not having the guts to stand up to Dick. He takes note of those who do manage to sneak away and avoid him, or those who do speak up. He’ll get his retribution on them soon and everyone will know what happened when they see the kid’s bruises. They’ll all certainly fall into line after that.

Now no one is happy, except for maybe Dick and his goons. The kids all walk away from the gathering grumbling harshly with their pockets filled with mostly worthless toothpicks. Dick has all the good stuff. They are hoping that they’ll be able to get their stuff back, but they are filled with uncertainty. They are simply too small to do anything about it if Dick decides to be a dick and keep the stuff. Their trading frenzy, and hence their prosperity, has come to an end. Read Entire Article

By Szandor Blestman