Weaknesses of the Billionaires
The Rules of the Market give the Virtual Billionaires most of the advantages in the Game. But they also impose limits which the Billionaires must respect. The principal weakness of the Billionaires stems from contradictions in the Rules that keep them running as fast as they can to stay in the same place. First among these Rules is Competition.
The Rules say that to conserve his individual capital each Virtual Billionaire must at each moment maximize his profits. By every means. Otherwise, his capital declines and may collapse or be eaten up by a competitor. To grow, he is obliged to accumulate frantically. The Virtual Market obliges him to speculate, borrow, take over other virtual capitalists, create huge debts, invent ficticious profits to hide them, lay off his employees and cut costs to maximize his returns. All this is necessary to protect the value of his stock on the Virtual Stock Exchange. For him, the future does not exist, only the daily numbers; only the quarterly bottom line.
The Rules of the Virtual Market oblige the Billionaire to pay his employees the minimum and extract from them the maximum amount of work. If he breaks these Rules, another more ruthlessly efficient Billionaire will undersell him. He must therefore automate his plant, speed up and rationalize his production process, downsize his labor force and move overseas in order to cut labor costs. These obligatory cuts lead inevitably to 1) increasing virtual unemployment and 2) virtual markets glutted with an excess of unsold merchandise. With Competition-driven increased efficiency, prices inevitably decline over time. The Virtual Billionaire must sell as fast as possible, for his investment and inventory lose value from month to month as Competition makes Merchandise cheaper. His economic life is one of permanent crisis.
The Rules prohibit the Billionaires from wasting money on non-productive activities like preventing pollution, cleaning up industrial waste, replenishing forest and fish stocks, as well as providing job safety, healthy working conditions, and economic security to their workers and sub-contractors. All these items would cost serious money and drag down the bottom line. Fortunately, Billionaires are entitled to use generous amounts of the money thus saved to pay fees to big law firms to defend suits by consumers, employees and environmental groups. They are also entitled to expensive “green” and “corporate responsibility” advertisements, puff stories in the media and fake science to deny their crimes.
According to the Rules, the ultimate market is made up of consumers among the Virtual Billions. But the Rules prevent the Virtual Billionnaire’s low-wage employees and unemployed former employees from accumulating enough money to buy all the wonderful new products being produced and advertised. The result is an oversupply of merchandise and an undersupply of Virtual Consumers.
According to the Rules, a young Asian worker must sell her labor at 44 cents an hour and work 14 hours a day seven days a week to make enough survive and feed her child (See Weaknesses of the Billions). As a moneyless “consumer,” she cannot buy back the equivalent of what she produces. Unfortunately (from the Billionaire’s point of view) her lack of money prohibits her from helping him realise his profits. Yet the Rules of the Virtual Market oblige the Billionaires to increase production, to sell, to compete or die. This vicious cycle is a major weakness for the Billionaires. But it is mitigated by consumer credit, which allows the workers to consume now and pay later, accumulating debts and interest piled upon interest, so that many wage-slaves are also debt-slaves working for the banks.
Fortunately, the Rules allow the Virtual Billionaires to maintain the level of their gross profits by privatizating whatever wealth remains outside the market system. (See “Legal Status” above.) The Rules give the Billionaires the legal right to take by force or fraud whatever remains of common holdings in rural areas (like forests), public services in urban areas (like hospitals, schools and transportation), common intellectual property (like medicinal plants) and the formerly collective property in the former Communist countries (like oilfields and industries). Billionaires are entitled to go around the world and legally take over everything public, including the sources of drinking water the Billions need to live. (See “Global Reach” above). The Rules also allow them to transform all of this legally stolen property into Merchandise and Commodities and sell it for money in order to counteract the decline in profitability caused by the Rules of the Virtual Market.
Competition weakens the Virtual Billionaires by dividing them in other ways. The Rules of the Market engender conflicts between branches of Capital (agriculture, industry, petroleum extraction) as well as conflicts between different national capitals for market share and access to primary materials. Each national group is forced to battle for the expansion of its Capital on pain of seeing it shrink.
In this frantic competition no industry, no national capital has the right to waste money diminishing pollution or making life more bearable for Workers. Whenever such reforms lower profit margins, even when profits are substantial, virtual investors are obliged to withdraw their capital to find a better investment at a higher rate elsewhere. This is the sorry fate that awaits “good” or “green” capitalists and welfare states. The Rules allow the Billionaires to back “green” candidates and take out expensive ads to prove how humane and “green” they are but not to cut into profits by increasing production costs. Or to hobble alternate clean energy development through restrictive legislation.
Virtual capitalism is programmed to move from economic crisis to war and from war to economic crisis, because of these insoluble hardwired internal conflicts. This is the principal weakness of the Billionaires.