Within mere minutes I found two articles on the Interwebs that were conjoined by the We’re so fucked factor. To give both articles their due, though, I’ve had to write about them separately lest the TL;DR factor nip intrepid readers in their wee red buds.
This article will focus on ways that a game theory study demonstrated that we’re so fucked. It came from Wired magazine by way of our prolific commenter and dear friend of the Ye Olde Blogge, Bob of Of Cabbages and Kings fame. It’s all about how unlikely we are to successfully pass vital resources on to the next generation because a minority of us are greedy bastards. As you can imagine, the we’re so fucked factor is strong in this one.
Don’t let your depression from reading this article stop you from reading it’s sister post! You’d better open it right now just in case you don’t have the heart to when you’re done. It’s an opinion piece on MSNBC examining how there is a near perfect correlation between #COVID19 vaccination rates and presidential voting in the 2020 elections. Hunh. Go figure. With all the yahoos out there in Red States and Red Counties avoiding the vaccine, you guessed it, we’re so fucked.
So, you’ve got your depressive reading cut out for ya! Ya best get to it, and let me know how you’re feeling in the comments because misery loves company when we’re all so fucked.
The Intergenerational Goods Game
If you thought the GQP approach to public health was inexplicable this next article makes it all just a bit more explicable. It addresses a study by Harvard and Yale behavioral scientists published in 2014. They wanted to look at how game theory could be applied when no reciprication could be utilized in the division of public goods. Future generations cannot repay previous generations for any non-renewable resources that have been preserved for them, so what would motivate the current generation to leave future generations a liveable world since we hear Repubes decry any deficit spending as unfairly saddling our grandkids with debt while not a peep about the rampant burning of fossil fuels. To examine this idea, they developed what they called the Intergenerational Goods Game. Here’s how it works:
- They took a group of volunteers and divided them into five teams called generations.
- They gave the first generation 100 units of non-renewable resources to use.
- The players in the generation could take up to 20 units each for their needs.
- Left over units were passed on to the next generation using this rule: if 50 or more units were left, the next generation got 100 units; if less, then the next generation got whatever that number was.
- Take a moment to do the math. If five players got 100 units, to have 50 units left over, each player could have only ten each. If any one player took more than ten, then other players would have to take less than ten to make up the difference.
- The results:
- Two-thirds of the players took ten or fewer units. These players were called cooperators. Yay!
- Defectors were players who screwed the next generation by taking more than ten shares. These were a minority, one assumes a third of them.
- Out of 18 games played under these conditions, only four managed to leave enough resource for the next generation. Of those four, only two had sufficient resources for a third generation, and none could sustain a fourth generation.
Once this sobering reality was established, they looked at ways of limiting the damage the defectors could do. They used what many of these resource distribution games use, democracy. They made a rule for the groups to follow. Whatever the maximum amount of resource the individual could take was established by simple majority rule, that was it. No one could take more than that amount.
With that rule in place, all 20 of the games played made it five generations. Even when they made scarcity a factor, each group was able to impose a limit that allowed enough for each generation.
Wait a minute here, Mr. Snarkmouth McSnarkface, you said in your title that We’re so fucked! This don’t sound like being fucked to me.
Well, the game could perfectly enforce the rule. The resource acquisition and distribution was simple, plain, and apparent to all. That ain’t the case in our real world. The Roberts Court has saddled us with allowing corrupt dark money to buy our politicians. We can no longer limit the one-third of our population from being defectors and screwing the rest of us. Hell, we can’t even force a quarter of our states to expand Medicaid in the most sweetheartest deal every proposed.
What makes you think we are operating with a democracy that will rationally decide that we should use only this amount of our natural non-renewable resources to sustain ourselves so our children and their children will have enough to live on? We can only maybe sort of get there by convincing the MAGA crowd and the Red States and GQP and the senators Exxon has bought and paid for to limit the resources their willing to expend in pursuit of the profits of the 1%.
The one percent gives exactly zero fucks for yours and my children and the quality of life they’re going to lead. They care only for their own profit and comfort. It is clear and obvious from the shitty mess we’re in this day. We will have to fight tooth and nail and probably with real violence, too, to enforce any limit on those motherfuckers. That’s why I say, these two articles together show us why we’re so fucked.
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