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Becker’s Use of Marginalism in Violence and Revolution

BECKER’S USE OF MARGINALISM IN VIOLENCE AND REVOLUTION
(predatory gains are linear, losses to prey are exponential)

—“…a simple calculation that predatory interest groups and their taxpaying victims make: what return on my investment can I get by lobbying government? Becker’s insight is that the gains to predators are linear, but the losses to prey are exponential, thereby stiffening the resistance of victims as the aggression of predators plods on without similarly increased vigor. Think of a gang of robbers taking half the crop from peasants. They then return for the second half. The gain to the gang of the second half cut is the same as in their first extortion. Yet for peasants to lose the last half of their crops means possible starvation and the certain loss of seed corn. They can be expected to resist violently…”—

Violence is always extant.

This of course, is why the government’s search for pareto optimums, and biology and the market’s search for nash equilibriums are so different, and why Pareto optimums are so dangerous: the state produces ‘trigger events’ by some linear increase that produces a revolution: the exponential cost is too high and war or revolution is preferable to on more incremental predation.

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