The calculus of shooting ourselves in the foot
November 13, 2012 3 Comments
Suppose this chart represents the distribution of something. There are three categories and the height of the bars represents how much (something) each has.
Note I’ve left out labels for the Y axis because it’s kinda unimportant, and depends on what the (something) is anyway. If it’s money then these are dollars, if it’s intelligence then this is IQ, etc.
Now what happens if we do something that takes, oh I dunno, 25 whatevers away from everyone?
Again, the Y axis is unlabeled. You might object that Category #1 now looks like it has gotten bigger which is untrue, and you’d be right; but on the other hand, it has gotten bigger compared to Category #3 and that is what the Excel chart detected when it auto-scaled the axes for me.
This is all just an illustration of a basic mathematical fact: when you have a bunch of positive numbers, and reduce them all by the same amount, the biggest number becomes a bigger fish in the resulting smaller pond.
This makes it easy to understand why, for example, big corporations favor regulations. Think of #1 as ‘MegaCorp, which has a big team of staff lawyers’, and #3 as ‘Mom & Pop corner store’. The second chart is, more or less, what happens when you increase regulations (or pass something like Obamacare) – you burden everyone with some cost, which is ‘fair’, but it harms the #3 guys the most.
This also explains, I think, why upper-class credentialed SWPL ‘progressive’ types are in favor of economic policies that (I think basically everyone knows, even if they won’t admit it) do economic damage the United States. Again, these are people in Category #1, and the second chart is their ‘after’ photo. What’s the downside? What’s so scary?
And besides, let’s remember, people in Category #3 are uneducated boobs in places like West Virginia, which can just go fuck themselves.