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Warren Buffet, the Super-Rich, and Survival

Biologists have studied the problem of cooperation extensively. How could it evolve? In the biology of cooperation, many individual organisms do not maximize their own biological potential, and their restraint results in some adaptive advantage for the group. But in all kinds of cooperative systems, there are some organisms that maximize their own potential regardless of the effect on the group. Why don’t the greedy out-reproduce the cooperators? Why hasn’t the moderate possibility been completely wiped out in a survival of the fittest scenario?

One answer comes from colonies of yeast, of all places. Yeast have two metabolic “paces” available. One is moderate; one is speeded up. The individual organisms that use the speeded up pace grow faster and out-produce the moderates.

But it turns out that the fast paced individuals produce more toxins than the moderates. In colonies where the moderates greatly outnumber the fast paced, the toxins can be cleared, and community lives for a long time. In the colonies where the fast paced organisms dominate, however, they eventually poison the environment and the whole colony dies.

It turns out that pure selfishness is only a successful strategy in the short run. This sounds to me a lot like the economic world we are experiencing right now.

People have been commenting on Warren Buffet’s “Stop coddling the super-rich” piece in the New York Times. There is a whole movement of rich people and business people who are willing to cooperate rather than maximizing their individual success but destroying the whole colony.

Let’s build that alliance. You can read about some of them at
Business for Shared Prosperity
Wealth for the Common Good

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About Katherine Power

I didn’t set out to be a terrorist. As a student activist, I moved from protesting the war in Viet Nam to waging guerrilla war to overthrow the government….

Recent and Upcoming Appearances and Publications
1/15/2014 Complexity and Social Change, Occupy Radio
10/31/2013 Surrender, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
10/25/2013 Surrender, Taos Community Theater, Taos, NM

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