Hurricane Joe Benson (#FreeHurricaneBenson) spent years on appeal before concluding he couldn't fight "City Hall."
"In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake." - Sayre's Law (Wallace S. Sayre)In a small pond, big fish are kings. And intellectuals talking about a rather obscure niche of world recycling policy have become empowered by the smaller audience. You learn that the proportionality of Sayre's principle cuts both ways... the big stakes questions about recycling policy go "whoosh" over the heads of local decision makers. And the small contracts, small business disputes, small business accusations, and "people from third world countries", can whip City Hall into a frenzy.
Game Theory is the study of strategic actions in multi-decision-maker scenarios. Game Theorists may use math - especially statistics - to predict how the number of actors involved in a decision affect the outcome. Or they may measure the wealth of the outcome, and how its control affects the behavior of stakeholders and decision makers. Look at it this way - the strategy and outcome of a game of RISK is affected by the number of players. If you have six players, a goal of controlling a continent is much more difficult to achieve than a game with three players. If you get to keep the cards of an eliminated player, timing that player's elimination (so you execute their final play and get their cards) becomes more important than the extra pieces you achieve by controlling a continent.
As players are eliminated, the sea of stakeholders gets smaller and smaller. The stakes in the economy, per player, get larger.
[Note: I'm on my way to New Orleans for the Recycling Innovators Forum... leaving in 20 minutes.]
A small set of stakeholders interested in an outcome starts to resemble a "small pond", as goals and perspectives become less diverse. This in turn defines the law, or the rules about behavior concocted by the remaining participants. But as the economy or stakes become greater, more people want to play at the table. This "game theory" analysis explains a lot about electronics recycling policy, perhaps so much that no one even notices the lack of actual data on the "risks" to be mitigated. Free and fair trade is almost presumed guilty, and in a rush to make rules, any rule may do. And the rules are being made by a small group of players: OEMs, Big Shred, Poverty Pornographers, and the contract managers at City Hall.
Take an online game of poker, with real cash stakes, with players on 5 continents. A vote comes up, which lettering to use on the playing cards, Chinese characters or western Arabic?
Australia, Europe, North America, and South America vote against the Asian card numbering... and like the JDowsett's Ferguson-themed Racism by Bike Blog, the game is subtly biased in a way that a Western observer won't even notice. Language is in many ways a better lens than color or bike-vs.-car for studying how majority behavior dictates systems. Debating use of language used at "City Hall" is a better study for "tyranny of the majority", perhaps, than calling darker skin a "minority" in a world geography, precisely because it takes us away from "You're not Trayvon" jingoism.
Apparently, I'm now defending JDowsett and the Racism by Bicycle Blog. But I'm also trying to demonstrate how finger-pointing do-gooders can create a carnage of collateral damage in a rush to make rules they haven't the time to vet. Primum non nocere ... first, do no harm.