The idiocy of zero-sum thinking

A modern day Hitler, say Saddam Hussein, defies the world in some terrible way. The response of the united democracies is to pressure him, by harsh economic sanctions (which hurt his victims, kill ailing children and leave him untouched) or war (which kills thousands of his victims, displaces millions, creates a refugee crisis that destabilizes the region for decades into the future). In the war Hussein is eventually captured and, after a short trial with a pre-ordained outcome, hastily strung up in some kind of garage or hangar, in the middle of the night. Democracy declares itself the winner.

What’s wrong with this scenario? It’s like using an atomic bomb to get rid of a single, nasty insect, for one thing.

I didn’t think of this in terms of Major League Baseball pulling $100,000,000 of business out a state where citizens are suffering mightily under the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 (also known as “Kung Flu” or the “Trump virus”) until I heard this very reasonable commentary from Tennessee comedian Trae Crowder:

If Major League Baseball had announced its firm intention to move the all-star game if certain provisions of the Georgia law were not revised, and used removal of a $100M game as a negotiating lever, might a strenuous public debate in Georgia have emerged? Of course, there is no mechanism available to do this kind of thing, though one imagines such a mechanism, with a May 15 deadline, could have been devised to address something of this anti-democratic magnitude.

Stacey Abrams, who the GOP blames for this bleeding of a fortune from the citizens of Georgia, was against the MLB boycott. She applauded the sentiment MLB’s decision expressed, and the giant corporation’s good intentions, but did not support the boycott itself. No matter, we live in a post-truth, alternative fact America.

Mitch McConnell will continue to threaten and lecture corporations about their political speech extending only to massive, unlimited campaign donations. He will block all COVID relief in the senate (as he did, month after month) unless it included blanket corporate immunity from law suits, no matter how egregious the corporate behavior was. He will go to the mat for the rights of corporations to be free of all restraint, to pursue profits as roughly as they see fit, but that doesn’t give the corporations a right to express outrage, no matter how outrageous the provocation they are responding to.

Zero sum. No solution was ever found in a zero sum world, except for one that benefits one side while screwing the other side completely. There’s no idea of any kind of win-win outcome with a party that only believes in victory at any cost.

Trump and the two GOP senators narrowly lost elections in Georgia. There was an immediate riot at the Capitol, the very day the two new Georgia senators won their run-offs. Trump wildly accelerated his efforts to loudly change the story from the GOP loss in Georgia to the widespread fraud he’d been fraudulently screaming about for months. The GOP state legislature in Georgia rushed to change the law to make sure this could never happen again, to remove any kind of political independence in the counting and certification of votes in the GOP-controlled 50-50 state of Georgia. The new law ensures the GOP wins any close election in the future.

The Georgia law, which ensures the GOP will have the final say in every county, district and precinct in Georgia (as Trump demanded, unsuccessfully, after the thrice recounted and certified election) is a new Jim Crow. The GOP defenders of this law to combat fraud by non-GOP voters appear on TV to snarl that it is not any kind of voter suppression effort, that the new law is needed to ensure “election integrity” and protect it from (imagined) voter fraud, that Blacks not whites are the actual racists, but the law is (absent the long Southern tradition of physical violence against targeted voters), without question, a new Jim Crow voting restriction. Jim Crow 2.0, yo.

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