Case 1 - Academics:

 

So one of the big problems in academics is that access to the best journals and articles is restricted to those who can afford to pay for them, which brings up some major moral questions like, why should only the richest people be able to afford access to knowledge? There are three players involved here, the authors, the publishers, and the readers. In this triangle of power, the publishers hold the most power (and are motivated almost exclusively by profit), and the authors "side" with the publishers for profit, leaving the readers powerless. The readers are motivated by knowledge, and the authors are motivated by both knowledge and profit. The way to resolve the moral problem (and in the process, empower everyone) is to empower the readers. The question I have is, how? It seems to me that a political response is in order here.

 

Case 2 - Politics: I see a parallel moral and practical problem in the socio-political sphere. The players are the rich, the middle class, and the poor, and the rich have got the lion's share of the power. The middle class sides with the rich out of a profit motive, and the poor are left out in the cold without access to power. I see a political response as necessary here as well, the only question is, what response is appropriate? A redistribution of power (wealth being only one form of power) is the intuitive answer, and I believe the correct one.

 

In power triangles, as a general rule the way to achieve a balance of power is for the two weaker players to team up to balance the power of the most powerful player, but what we see in these cases is the two more powerful players teaming up and creating a serious imbalance of power which has the effects of bringing everyone down. It is an irrational response based on the rules of game theory (if you accept the premise that there is a solution which helps everyone and which has a greater aggregate outcome than any solution which favors only some members). Instead of a balance of power, we end up with the most powerful player playing the "divide and conquer" strategy to perfection for the simple fact that they don't even have to try all that hard, the middle player is a half-willing participant! So what we really need to focus on is figuring out how to restore balance through bringing the middle players back on the side of the least powerful for their own (and in the long-run everyone's) benefit. Any thoughts?

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