Say there’s this really big family, the Jones’ with like 20 kids, and they all go the same school. Mrs. Jones makes excellent PB&J sandwiches, and she sends each of her kids to school with one every day. This makes Mrs. Jones the envy of the neighborhood.
Then there’s this other family, the Browns. They also have 20 kids. Mr. Brown sends them to the same school everyday with these godawful ham sandwiches. I mean, basically raw pig flesh on a piece of cardboard.
Anyway during recess, these kids and all the other kids from smaller families in the neighborhood trade their food and toys with each other. Those PB&Js are worth a lot. A Jones kid nets himself a stack of Pokemon cards (or pogs or marbles), 5 Oreos and last night’s spelling homework with one PB&J. On the other hand, all 20 Brown kids have to give up their sandwiches for a single PB&J.
One Sunday night, one of the Browns comes up with a scheme. If they all stay up and help Pa Brown every night making pig sandwiches, they can increase their buying power. On Monday, they come to school with a whopping 20 “sandwiches” each, and proceed to try to trade all 400 of them for the Jones kids’ 20 PB&Js. Some other kids get in their first so they aren’t able to buy up all 20, but they get half of them. On Tuesday, they decide to increase thier odds by offering 21 pig sandwiches for one PB&J, and the Jones’ go for it, trading 19 of their PB&Js for 399 cardboard treats. BAM! The Browns are in business.
Wednesday, the other kids catch on and start throwing in extra Cheez-Its and homework assignments for those PB&Js, pushing the value of the PB&J up even higher. The Jones see this and start to get a little greedy. One says to his siblings “Hey, these guys love us. I’ll bet we can get even more stuff out of them with IOUs!” So the Jones’ start raking in even more stuff against IOUs: cotton candy, tickets to Justin Bieber, those stupid plastic sunglasses with the horizontal slits in them.
What the Browns lack in taste and quality, they make up for in hard work, quantity and determination. They redouble their efforts and increase their pseudo-sandwich output to 1200 per night. Through hard work and strategic purchases they’ve been able to push the PB&J value up to double it’s original value. But those devilishly clever guys spot another opportunity. All those IOUs that the Jones’ sold are going un-honored. The poor saps holding them are starving. So the Browns trade for those too.
Don’t get me wrong. Life ain’t easy in the Brown household. Every night they are beaten if they don’t make enough sandwiches. Life sucks, but they believe it’s for the long-term good. The rest of the kids taunt them for being so sleep-deprived and dirty. But the Browns don’t care. At least they are guaranteed a PB&J every night, and if all goes according to plan, that will be increased to two next month. And three in 6 months. Life could be worse, and in fact, things are looking good for the long term.
The new reality is starting to sink in for the Jones’. Mrs. Jones still has a great reputation for PB&J’s, but they’re in huge debt. They know their path is unsustainable, but as long as people keep giving them stuff for IOUs, they don’t want to face the pain of correcting their actions (giving up those IOUs and stopping the exchange of PB&Js for a lot of cheap crap). Meanwhile, it’s the Browns that are helping everyone out, trading pig meat for those IOUs. The Browns changed the game, competing on price, and sacrificing their quality of life for long-term welfare. Some might accuse them of dragging the Jones down a path of economic terrorism. Mr. Brown simply reminds them that along the way, everything going on between him and Mrs. Jones was completely consensual, singin’
Me and Mrs, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones
Mrs. Jones got a thing going on
We both know that it’s wrong
But it’s much too strong to let it cool down now