Economics/Class Relations

Part 1: Elites are Not Good at Strategic or Long-Term Thinking

Many people seem to believe that members of the so-called “elite class” are very good at strategic and long-term thinking. This particular belief is the basis for many of the more outrageous conspiracy theories which you might have heard or read about. But is this really the case, or is it a case of wish projection? To be clear, I am not denying that any group of people will, given enough time, attempt to come up with some scheme to attempt domination of others. The real question is whether that can achieve anything beyond pissing in the proverbial rain. What that in mind, here are two reasons why the “elite” might seem more competent than they are in real life.

1] A ‘winner takes all’ economic system favors luck and chance over competence.

Would Microsoft, Google, Apple etc be what they are today if they hadn’t received a few important lucky breaks in the beginning and their now-extinct competitors made fewer serious mistakes? Do you believe that MS-DOS or Windows were the best or only Operating Systems (OSes) for PCs in the 1980-1990 era? What happened to other competitors such as Commodore and Amiga. Or ask yourself- how much of the success of Google was a consequence of the many poor decisions made by its much larger competitors in late 1990s? Isn’t most of the current success of Apple due to its early embrace of tablet-style computing (iPhone and iPad) when other competitors, including Microsoft, dropped the ball?

Why did the hardware architecture pioneered by IBM stick around even though it wasn’t the best-selling PC manufacturer throughout 1980s? Why didn’t the hardware architecture of its many competitors such as Commodore, Amiga and yes.. even Apple either disappear or get relegated to the minority. Were all these companies staffed with dumb engineers and programmers? So why did they not win the PC architecture race? How much of Microsoft’s success was linked to the eventual domination of IBM-style open PC architecture? Could it be that a few good decisions made by IBM PC division plus a combination of inertia and luck ended up making Microsoft the still undisputed leader in PC OSes?

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