A Beautiful Mind
18th century Scottish economist, Adam Smith said, “Individual ambition serves the common good.” That always made sense to me. If everyone is working in their own interests, taking care of themselves and their families, then society works successfully. There is an old Chinese saying, “If families take care of families, the country will take care of itself.” This does not mean that we should not give to charity or help people out who are in need. In reality, the people who have taken care of their own needs, who are individually prosperous, are the ones who are most capable of giving to charity and helping those in need. So, working in our own interests, is actually working for everyone’s interests.
In the 2001 movie, A Beautiful Mind, Nobel Prize winning economist, John Nash, played by Russell Crowe, has an epiphany when he says, “Adam Smith said, ‘the best results come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself’, right? That’s what he said, right? Incomplete. Incomplete. Because the best result will come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group… Adam Smith needs revision.” And that revision was the basis of his Nobel Prize winning Equilibrium.
How much do we work for our own interests and how much do we work for the greater good, is the root question when determining the size of government and its role in the lives of its citizens. There is always a push and pull. If there is no government, it becomes anarchy. If there is complete government rule, it becomes totalitarian. Where should we fit between anarchy and totalitarianism? Nash’s Equilibrium gives us an insight as to how we should approach answering that question. We must work in the best interests of the individual citizens and the best interest of the country as a whole. Strong American citizens make America stronger; a strong America makes American citizens stronger. It is a symbiotic relationship. We are all dependent on one another.
Renown author Rudyard Kipling, in his novel, The Jungle Book, summed it up this way, “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” Hall-of-Fame and 11-time NBA Champion coach, Phil Jackson told his players, "The strength of the team lies within the individual. And the strength of the individual lies within the team."
Over the last 21 months, the Biden administration has done the exact opposite of what it should be doing in this regard. Biden is actively making America weaker, and actively making Americans weaker. He is creating a vicious cycle which will devolve both America and its citizens into ruin. There has not been one thing that Joe Biden and the Democrats have done since he took office in January of 2021, that has made both America and her citizens stronger, from opening the border to illegal immigrants and deadly drugs to out of control spending which is driving inflation to his attacks on the fossil fuel industry which makes energy unaffordable to soft on crime policies which make our communities more dangerous and violent to direct attacks on our 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendment rights which makes every citizen less free and less empowered. Every one of these decisions and policies have either made America weaker which makes its citizens weaker, or the American citizens weaker which makes their country weaker.
The perfect example is Biden’s energy policy. On his first day in office, he shut down the Keystone XL pipeline, and cancelled drilling permits on Federal land. During the campaign, he made it very clear that his goal was to eliminate fossil fuels and he set out to do just that from day one. What have been the results? America is less prosperous, and Americans are poorer. We are also in a much worse position to help Ukraine in their war against Russia, and to help our allies in Europe deal with the devastating ramifications from that war. Many European countries are heading into the winter without enough energy to keep their homes heated because of the war. If we were energy independent today, as we were when Joe Biden took office, we could provide our European allies the energy they need this winter, but we can’t. The best we can do is release our Strategic Oil Reserves which is only a stop-gap measure which solves no long-term problem and makes America more vulnerable in a time of crisis.
We can apply Nash’s Equilibrium to international relations as well because we are part of the global community. Nations must work in their own best interests but also in the interests of the world. America first does not mean we only care about America. America first means that we must act in the best interest of America but also not at the expense of the rest of the world, because we are part of the world and if the rest of the world is weaker then we will be weaker even if we appear relatively stronger. We must not treat acting in our interests as a zero-sum game. On the other hand, if we put the interests of the rest of the world ahead ourselves, as Joe Biden and the Democrats have so often done, America becomes weaker and the rest of the world becomes not only weaker, but more dangerous.
Should we support Ukraine in their war vs Russia? Yes. It is in the world’s best interest, and subsequently our best interest for Ukraine to prevail over Russia. But should we put Ukraine’s interest ahead of our own by funneling tens of billions of dollars to a corrupt Ukrainian government whose oligarchs are, more than likely, exploiting us to enrich themselves? Should we enact policies which are destroying our economy for the sake of Ukraine? Should we make ourselves weaker and less prosperous for someone else’s best interest? Of course not, because even if Ukraine prevails, if the United States is greatly weakened in the process, the world is much worse off.
China puts China first at the expense of all others. And that is where they are short-sighted because they think it is a zero-sum game where there is only one winner, and they have to be it. They want to empower themselves by destroying others, but what would they have gained by taking over a world they destroyed in the process? Not much. China is exporting millions of fentanyl pills into this country in an attempt to destroy the fabric of our nation through the opioid crisis, knocking us down to build themselves up. What they don’t realize is that they need a strong America. A weak America makes China weaker and the rest of the world weaker which makes China even weaker.
It is similar to what Russia is doing in Ukraine. They are destroying that country so they can take it over and what would they have gained once that have conquered it? A pile of rubble with natural resources underneath. They’ve decimated an entire country’s infrastructure to get their hands on its natural resources. They’ve spent tens of billions of dollars destroying a country that they’re going to need to spend hundreds of billions to rebuild or it will be a blight of their region for decades which will bring countless unforeseen problems to their own country.
It is what the Democrats are doing to America. They are destroying America so they can rule it – Illegal immigration, the opioid crisis, rampant violent crime, $30 trillion in debt, runaway inflation, etc., are all done on purpose. They must destroy the country if they are to conquer the country. But what will they be conquering? Not the strong prosperous America that we used to know. They would be conquering a failing, corrupt former constitutional Republic. We saw this in 2020. They foisted two crises on the country in an attempt to destroy America so they could take it over. Covid and its lockdowns which the Democrats exploited politically, decimated our economy, costs jobs and livelihoods. The BLM riots which were supported by the Democrat party, demolished large sections of our major cities, killed 30 people, caused billions of dollars of damage, and many of those rioted neighborhoods that Democrats run are still burned-out shells. Slash and burn politics serve no one’s interests.
This is what the Democrat party fails to understand. They are intent on destroying the Republican Party and creating a one-party state through rigged elections, added states to the union, packing the court so they can impose their will on the country. Replacing our two-party system in favor of a one-party state would be disastrous for America which in turn would be disastrous for the Democrat Party. We can see how ruinous a one-party monopoly is on institutions by looking at the mainstream media, academia, and Hollywood. All of those institutions are dominated and controlled by far-left ideologues with very little pushback allowed from the other side. All three of these important American institutions are mired in corruption, dishonesty, and mediocrity. The quality of what they produce is completely lacking – no one trusts the media anymore, Hollywood produces very few quality movies, and increasingly a college degree is becoming worthless.
Ali needed Frazier; the Beatles needed The Rolling Stones; The Yankees need the Red Sox. You need an opposition to keep you sharp, to keep you strong, to keep you on the straight and narrow. As much as I disagree with what the Democrats believe in and stand for, I recognize the importance of having a political party which acts in opposition to keep Republicans in check when they have all the power. Republicans having unfettered power is just as dangerous as Democrats having unfettered power. That’s what the founders feared and why they created a system of checks and balances, and division of powers, because it’s always dangerous when one entity has a disproportionate amount of power, because it almost always is used to exploit.
Nash’s Equilibrium promotes the idea that we must always work in our own best interests, but also in the interests of our family, our communities, our country and our world. Making America great again, does just that. It works in the best interest of America and its citizens but is also what is best for the world because the world is strongest when America is strongest.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.