Politics

We’re So Fucked: The Greedy “Defector,” edition


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.

One way to overcome stress and depression is to do something nice fer sumbody like leave a lonely blogger a sign that you’ve been here:

  1. Leave us a comment on… you know… being so fucked and depressed and stuff… or something else.
  2. Leave us a like using the like button down there because you liked reading about how fucked we are.
  3. Give this post a five-star rating because it explained our fuckedness so snarkily, sarcasitckily, and profanely.
  4. Share this post on your favorite social media platform so all your friends and acquaintances can be depressed, too!
  5. Join our email list and never miss an opportunity to be depressed by how fucked our future is!

Image Attribution

“Monsters of Game Theory” by candid is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

26 replies »

    • Howdy James!

      Well, yes and no. The idea is that the researchers devise a game that reflects a real-life phenomenon in this case passing resources to the next generation. They try to set up the rules to make the simulation accurate but also workable. Of course, the game doesn’t totally reflect reality. It is too small, the resources too immediate, the consequences intangible. But, the biggest problem is that you can see the big picture, but in life you can’t see the connection between lobbying to change emission standards for cars and how that will deny future generations a liveable environment.

      The people taking more of the resources in the games and tanking future generations knew exactly what they were doing. They knew the consequences of their actions. They didn’t care. The question becomes did they not care because they knew they were playing a game or did they not care because they wanted the immediate pay off. They do not report interviewing the participants to ask about their decisions in the game.

      Voting on the resources each individual could take only worked if everyone was constrained by the vote. The experimenters could ensure that no one took more than the agreed upon amount after it was voted in. In real-world terms everyone followed the norms. They accepted the outcome of the vote and allowed their behavior to be constrained by it.

      That’s what you’re getting at. In our world, the defectors are not constrained by normative behavior, and the rest of us don’t always realize it. The vaule of the paper is in alerting us to this class of people and pointing us in the direction of what we have to do to constrain the behavior of defectors.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

      • I see. Thinking in terms of the future in the real world seems to be ambiguously undefined to many people it seems. Thus, they fail to alter their greedy behavior now,

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy James!

          Yes, that’s it exactly. The future is undefined. Anything is possible even for you! Psychology suggests that we view our future selves as strangers and treat ourselves as such, thus we overvalue the present and undervalue the future. Evolutionarily, this makes sense. We evolved in a calorie poor-environment where eating tomorrow was always in doubt, so you ate everything available to you today even if that meant over eating. Now that we live in an a calori-rich environment, we can’t shake those old habits. It applies to everything. Now is important. The future takes care of itself.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Like

    • Thanks, man. I appreciate the tip. I followed their link to the academic article. It was well worth the read and the time. It really made me think about the psychopaths that probably are driving much of the GQP’s dysfunction right now.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t look at the stats much, but eveyonce in a while WP tells me of a huge spike in reads and likes, usually because somebody had found me and read a year’s worth of posts or more.

        I keep remembering that committee the GOP had after the 2008 election (or, was it 2010?) that said they had to make the tent bigger and such. They went exactly the other way. Giving up on white supremacy, male supremacy, and christian nationalism was just unimaginable for them, so they doubled down and then came the TEA Party and they were locked in, trapped between the kooks and the oligarchs.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          They made the bet to side with the 30% that are willing to sabotage the whole for personal gain. It has only concentrated those of like mind into their party allowing them to climb the ranks and gain office. It is as frightening as it is disgusting.

          You know everything we do in hiring new employees isn’t actually effective, especially the job interview. Anyone can practice up answers to the questions, get themselves coiffed, and put on a nice suit and pull it off. As Gosling, the Snoop personality test guy, says is looking at the ways that personality leaks into our everyday lives gives us better insight into character and future behavior. Perhaps, our expensive manipulative political campaigns actually do the same thing. Maybe they just fool us about who we’re really electing and aren’t the best indicator of what they’ll do once in office.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well, in the case of Trump, anybody looking at his actual history of bankruptcies and personal behavior would not see him a as fit manager for a country. Many of us, in fact, did look and see that. The MAGA Nation is still running on the illusions he projects, refusing to see the little man behind the curtain. As to what candidates will do in office, a lot depends on which they value more, making decisions or towing the party line.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Gaslighting, groupthink, and cognitive dissonance can carry you a long way. Another study that I’m sure someone somewhere has done is looking at how long authoritarian regimes last. If they are personality cult based they often flounder after the personality dies unless there is another personality waiting in the wings to take over. Having lived in South Korea and Kenya during their elections, it is evident that culture norms and wealth play a role in the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy. Our strong democratic norms and institutions bode well for us bouncing back from any authoritarian takeover of our government.

              In terms of the people the GQP is electing, they are less interested in governing, making decisions, than preening and strutting on the stage. McQarthy only wants to be Speaker because he wants the prestige of the title. He doesn’t actually want to govern. In the GQP dystopian authoritarian regime the decision makers will those appointed to office by the executive, and their job will be to loot the country.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • The regimes that founder when a charismatic leader dies or is deposed tend to devolve into internal fighting for the top job. This seems especially true if the leader ha been busy purging anybody competent and ambitious enough to be a threat, or a successor. The Trump administration was a case in point, nobody who might have had the potential to replace or succeed him didn’t last long. That combined with a habit of shooting the messenger led to a gang of hacks and yes men unable to get to grips with critical realities like a pandemic and climate change.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  The 2024 GQP primary is going to be bloody and nasty in the political sense, hopefully, not in the literal sense, whether Trump runs or not. It seems like instability ensues until someone or a group amasses enough power to clamp down and maintain control.

                  The question in the US, though, what happens in 2022 when the GQP controlled state governments refuse to certify Dem election winners? Will there be mass protests in the streets? Will there be vast general strikes? What happens if it’s a close race and the Dem candidate loses? Or only some of the elections are overturned in states?

                  In 2024 if the presidency is the election that the GQP tries to overturn, then we could see mass protests, but what happens if it is the 50th Dem senator in 2022 or a secretary of state in just one of the states? This is going to be a long difficult road pushing the GQP back from the authoritarian cliff.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • It might also happen that the GOP drops right over the cliff and goes “SPLAT”. If they were to get control and attempt to undo and reverse all efforts and policies to deal with climate change, the rest of the world would have no choice but to respond, probably with economic sanctions. The majority of share holders in Homo Sapiens, inc. do not live in the united States.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Hopefully, our allies have plans for running the world and our alliances without us since they were given a dry run under Trump. We can’t assure the world that we’re back unless and until we secure our elections. Without legislation and court decisions upholding our elections — right to vote, the counting of the vote, and the certification of the elections — we cannot guarantee any of our commitments.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • And, however advantageous it might be for our adversaries, even they need to be cautious in the face of erratic behavior.

                      As for our commitments, many people around the world must be watching the final act of our bumbling tragedy in Afghanistan with horror and anxiety. That’s especially true in Iraq.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I think Biden’s reasoning is right. I think the way we left Bergstrom and are dealing with the translators and other helpful folks is both predictable and a sad commentary on our values as a whole.

                      When I used to play DnD, I followed the principle of finding a way to stay true to my character, achieve the goals of the quest, and have fun. I think the lads over in Homeland need to do the same here.

                      Huzzah!
                      JAck

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Our handling of that kind of war, among other things, says a lot about the distractability in our political and media system, and the attention span of the American public.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      We’re so caught up in the immediacy of the moment, aren’t we? We rely on the press and our leadership to have the bigger picture in mind, but now everyone is chasing social media cycles of likes, comments, dollows, and shares with its concomitant speed and accuracy.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I’ve been fascinated and a bit terrified by the role of social reinforcement in cognitive dissonance and how it is filled by media both social and cable. When you think everyone around you believes something, you automatically think it is true and it becomes an assumption. It makes it very difficult to break.

                      The other piece of this that is really infuriating is that this social reinforcement is done so deliberately by Fox News. The others that are to the right of them are just trying to carve off a piece of their market share, but Ailes and Murdoch knew this and deliberately exploited it to build our current social landscape.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      One of the behaviors that characterizes our age is the way we absolutely avoid making any hard or difficult political or social decisions. We’ve known about the issues concerning misinformation, disinformation, and our right lies on social media from the beginning. By now, it is absolutely clear that they need to be regulated in a similar way as a public utility and any advertising or third party article posted that is demonstrably untrue needs to be taken down. Our common fact base needs to be treated as a common good and defended as vigorously as we do our air and water.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

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