What happens when the pie is shrinking?

Throughout my entire life, the economic pie in the US has been growing. This has made possible civil rights, women’s rights and a number of safety net programs. Now, we are entering a time when the pie is shrinking, or at least perceived to be shrinking.

When this happens, people are unwilling to share. What used to be “I am doing well, so you can have a little” has become “What I gave you before, well I need that back”.

This is what is driving our nasty and unproductive politics. The question is, “What do we do about it”?

Game theorists look at this as a form of dividing the pain. And there is no universally agreed on definition of fairness, especially when dividing pain.

Where we need to start though, is understanding the situation we are in, and where this tends to lead us if we are unaware- that is, towards selfishness, unreasonableness and conflict.

The pie is perceived to be shrinking. Let’s understand this and manage through it in a way we will look back on and feel proud.