Monday, February 13, 2012

Darwin's Wedge

I understand what Frank is trying to say about market competition resembling competition in nature, but through the entire chapter I kept asking myself "Why do they have to be mutually exclusive?". He speaks later in the chapter about context relativity, which I think he should have applied to his analogies of economics and the wilderness; an animals antlers may seem cumbersome to us, and I see the logic he used about how smaller antlers would benefit the species better as a whole, but he's not addressing the positive benefits of the larger antlers. Larger antlers do help fight each other when in competition for mates, but also just represent a stronger,larger male. In brutal winter conditions, or times of scarcity, the larger of the species will survive, had they all been bred smaller, such conditions could be catastrophic to the species survival. Being able to represent  this strength give the bigger bulls an advantage in their "market". Yes, it is beneficial for the gazelle to be as fast as possible to outrun a cheetah or other predator, but had evolution chosen to make the gazelle bigger, with large antlers, maybe the cheetah would simply go after easier prey?
And through all of this, I see The Invisible Hand at work. In my understanding of this concept, I never thought of The Invisible Hand as striving for a perfect and equal outcome, it merely is the interactions of all parties coming together to use and share resources, and the consumers will choose what they deem the best value, thus the survival of the fittest. I hope I am not misunderstanding that concept, I apologize if I am.
Something that Sherri was always saying in class is that the Economy isn't static, it is constantly shifting and changing. Likewise with evolution, neither one has a specific goal in mind, they are simply changing to meet demands of the moment, and trying to adapt should an environment or resource change, some thrive, some die out.
His metaphors sparked one of my own that I would like to share: ( A little background: I'm a biology major and have volunteered on a wildlife refuge in South Africa)
There is a market for something called 'Canned Hunting', in which someone owns land, fences it in, and supplies it with Lions, Elephants, Zebras, Rhinos, what have you. Trophy hunters pay to come "hunt" this land, as it is a guarantee of a kill, the animals have no where to go. In addition, a guide is usually provided so the hunter has even more security and safety....Sounds like a subsidy if I ever heard one :) Having a guarantee of acquiring the outcome one wants with virtually none of the added risk that would normally be involved with killing such deadly and rare creatures. Just a thought.


  1. Great Post Colleen. I really liked your metaphor...very applicable!

  2. Interesting post. However, I fear I am a little dense. I don't understand what your metaphor applies to. Can you elaborate for me?

  3. Ug, I just posted a big, long answer to this, and it got deleted. Maybe we can talk about it tonight.