Circling The Drain

In mathematics there is a concept called Pareto efficiency, it describes the impossibility for one side of an equation to keep taking without depriving or diminishing  the other side. A common sense idea in which the losing side inevitably goes to zero. Because of the finite quality of available resources namely money, Capitalism is a Pareto efficient economic system – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In other words it is a zero-sum game – I win and you lose. This raises an interesting question: how can a so-called “Democratic” society  tolerate or thrive within a anti-democratic economic model? As a consequence of too few having too much too many have too little of this stuff to spend. It doesn’t require a PhD in Economics to figure out that if too few have to little to spend the general economy will suffer. So, a truthful Economics 101 should tell us that the imbalance caused by greed is a foundational cause of economic failure and, eventually, social collapse.

It is important to understand that aside from accumulating as much as possible, there is no moral or ethical code associated with the Capitalist belief system. To understand this consider: A pharmaceuticals company acquires the rights to a vital medicine which has been selling at $56.64 per dose they raise the price overnight to $317.82 for the same amount and at the same time raise the compensation of their CEO from $2,453,456.00 to $18,931,068.00. The drug went up 461%  and the CEO’s salary went up 671%. As they say, nice work if you can get it and pity the people who need the drug to survive.

Pick up any economics texts and you’ll be treated to an amazing variety of theories explaining why we had a crash in 2008 or why the world’s (and our) economy has failed to regenerate from said crash in spite of various governmental interventions. One theory after another is generated by learned professors at various universities and think-tanks. Of course none of this wisdom accords with what we experience in our everyday lives but it sounds profound. The reason why the economy isn’t recovering is actually quite simple – we live in a Pareto efficient economic system, that is to say, too few people have too much of available monetary resources and too many have too little.

The totality of economics can be expressed this way: 2+2=4 and 4-2=2 but more importantly, 4-4=0. That’s it, that’s the whole story in a nut shell. For all of us unwashed, economics is a simple matter of you either have it or you don’t. As of July of this year 13% of men between the ages of 25 and 54 have dropped out of the labor force consequently they don’t have any “it” to spend. The unemployment rate continues to hover around 4.9% of which 26.6% are considered long-term unemployed. Also, what the numbers don’t tell you is what kinds of jobs are available and what wages they are paying. Do they pay minimum wage? Can people support their families on this level of income? Can employed people afford health care? Is there such a thing as “disposable” income? Did you know that a large percentage of enlisted military families rely on food stamps or that the US has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the entire world? That’s real world economics, folks.

Capitalism is a dualistic belief system which, while promising fair distribution of material and social wealth, delivers quite the opposite. Now that 1% of the population owns 40% of the United States’ wealth it seems plain to see things are out of balance. Although many writers such as Thomas Piketty and Charles Lehmann, have produced incontrovertible evidence  of the imbalance, the general public seems to be in denial. To argue against inequality earns you various imprecations such as, you are a Socialist or even worse a Communist. Most using these terms don’t have a clue as to what Socialism is or means, it becomes name calling because Communists, are, as we all know, evil and totalitarian and who knows what socialists are?

Given the Pareto efficient aspect of Capitalism, the imbalance, cannot be treated with doses of feel-good Kumbaya or patriotic exhortations; eventually something has to give. A bigger question remains. When there is nothing left for the majority how long can belief in the social contract survive? Are we circling the drain? Inevitably we are going to find out.

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5 Responses to “Circling The Drain”


  1. 1 John Simms August 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I love this.
    Pareto efficiency in mathematics
    Mass–energy equivalence in physics.
    = means “equivalent with/to”

    The Universe, by Einstein’s equations and those underpinning thermodynamics, basically says nothing comes for free. Energy and matter ALWAYS appear to have to come from elsewhere. While m & E can be TRANSFORMED into other configurations, doing so requires an expenditure of energy and a dissipation of heat that add up to, you guessed it, ZERO. What Emanuele Corso speaks of is mathematically sound and physically sound. It is an inevitability that all things return to a zero sum. When you add up all the matter in the Universe, you get a positive sum. When you add up all the Energy, you get a negative sum. You then put E=MC2 put into consideration and what number to you get? ZERO.

    This is why Capitalism is going to end, possibly soon. Whether it violently implodes from being unable to meet its energy requirements OR it is guided into a more stable equilibrium through collectively conscious changes to our way of life (morally, ethically, technologically, culturally, etc.) remains to be seen. Personally, I work towards the latter. I’d prefer to land this plane rather than have it crash violently to Earth.

    #CapitalismOrSurvival

  2. 2 D.Corso August 28, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Spot on

  3. 3 Carol Sharp August 27, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    You are scary smart my dear friend.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  4. 4 stephen bradley August 27, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    EC Your figure of 4.9 percent “unemployed” could be off. The government says that if you have *stopped* looking for a job you are no longer “unemployed”. If they now used the formula that was used by the same government thirty years ago, the official number would be about 23%. Ugly!! SB


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