There are essentially two kinds of people in this world, each with a different perspective on how to play the game of life. That’s not exactly a new revelation, but it was brought home clearly to me recently during a group game exercise in a UCLA extension class.
The class was divided into three groups of eight or nine people. Each participant selected five chips (red, white or blue) at random from a closed bag. Each chip had a different point value. Each group was then directed to try to negotiate and barter with each other. The total points for each participant were then marked on the blackboard.
The object appeared to be to decide who had the highest point total(s).
After several rounds on this level, each group was then given three chips and told to distribute them anyway those chose.
This is where the game got interesting to me. One person suggested that the chips should be given to people with the lowest scores, although that wouldn’t make a significant difference in their points totals. Another person (me) suggested the chips should all go to the person with the highest score (that wasn’t me) so they could better compete with the highest scores in the other groups.
After some discussion, our group voted to award the new chips to the lowest point people.
After another round with five chips to each participant, the group was given another three chips and we had the same discussion and the same outcome.
There are definitely people who believe everyone should benefit equally in life and there are some who feel if the object is to compete for top-point winner, then the group should follow that lead.
At that point in the game, one of the three groups was identified (we’ll call Group A) and asked to make up the rules for the final round. While they were discussing that, our group suggested we combine our points with the other group and be in a position to trump Group A.
Well, they were finally catching on. The sharing person was disappointed, but it didn’t much matter. The other group couldn’t quite get the idea of combining the points and Group A won the whole thing.
The game, in a small way, was a microcosm of our society, as well as the current state of our politics. There are some who want everyone to have equal benefits no matter how much they contribute or produce, and some who believe in a free enterprise capitalist system where the major benefits (as well as the tax burden) go to the winners; those who excel and/or produce more.
We have the best game with the greatest opportunity here in America than any place else in the world. The best way to preserve our system, I believe, is to build a minimum safety net for the truly needy while controlling our debt obligations within workable limits so the interest in the debt doesn’t kill the economy and continue the vast opportunities available to all.