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Mutual Yeast

© John A. Tyler

Is life a contest of “winners vs. losers,” “not in my back yard,” “I will not compromise,” “no one can be trusted,” “half a loaf is better than none,” “I take care of me first, everyone else later,” “win-win situations,” “treat others as I would be treated,” and so on?

If I were answering an examination question, my answer would be “all of the above”.

To a large extent, one’s attitude depends on one’s perception of the contest prizes.

A common economic and political concept is the “zero sum game.” Zero sum game rules provide that there is a certain sum of wealth to be contested by players, and that one player cannot gain wealth without others losing.

There is also the “win-win” game, where each player, by cooperating with others, participates in increasing the total wealth to be divided, and each player may be better off at the end of the game.

You know that you cannot make bread without yeast. Bread rises because of fermentation, the converting of sugars in the flour to carbon dioxide which makes the bread rise. Yeast is the catalyst in the process. No yeast, no bread.

What do these ideas have to do with each other? Here is my opinion.

In a democratic country, the goal is “government with the consent of the governed.” Competition exists, but cooperation is essential. This is equally true in our personal and economic lives.

When I choose which job to seek, in which business deal to participate, whom to choose as friends and allies, I try to keep in mind the above concepts. There are jobs and business deals where both parties win, and, in an ideal situation, it’s a pleasure to associate with people who help others develop their wheat to flour to bread.