Questions to Ponder:

1. Why is our entire financial and economic system predicated on competition?

2. Why is competition an assumed good for improving the economy?

3. Does competition really ensure good quality and low prices?
4. Is competition really the only thing that can ensure good quality and low prices?

5. Isn’t the price exacted, in terms of our social relationships, quality of life, and other intangible indicators, too high, just to have some mythical product quality?
6. Isn’t the price exacted, in terms of our social relationships, quality of life, and other intangible indicators, too high, just to have an economy that keeps producing too much so that some people can be really rich, and the rest just sort of get by?

7. Hi, sorry, I’m really having trouble being even somewhat impartial this week. Do bear with me. :)
8. Also, for the record, I’m not really 100% down with the second article, it’s just the only one I could find on the internet on this theme. I’m still trying to articulate why I find this article somewhat troublesome, hopefully by the time we get to the discussion I’ll be a bit clearer.

Discussion Question:

Is competition inhumane?

Choose a side:
Team A) No. Competition is necessary to help people improve their world. If you don’t have to make sure you’re better than someone else, you have no incentive to improve.
Team B) Yes. In a sane world where people were given enough time to truly develop their interests, and where they really enjoyed their work, people would naturally try to improve themselves because that’s actually the most interesting thing to do.
Team C) Moderator.
Team D) ______. ____________________________________________.

LLLI Alumni Association: MEET LORELEI DE LA REZA, Senior Olympian, Embracer of Life
Competition -- An Inhuman Activity
Working Mother: The Case Against Competition

Taipei Discussion Transcript: Competition

I’m team a, because inhumane is not good for people who do the competition. But I think it’s not a bad thing, when you compete in a fair way, or in the right way, it helps you get the motivation to do something. Ike when you play basketball with your friends, if you get points it makes you more devoted to this game.

I choose team D. Actually, I disagree with both team a ad team b. I think the competition tend to be inhumane, just like Mary said, in competition is human nature, is not a bad thing, but through in the process of our competition, human tend to hurt others, and behave in a bad way, such as treat other people, so…and I think competition is not the only way to improve the world, and the main incentive to improve ourself is not because we want to outdo others, I think it should be just because we want to make yourself better.

So you sound like you’re team b

Yeah, a little like, but, I think in the real world, actually we have no time to truly develop each one’s interests. In the real world it’s a fierce competitive game. But if we can develop an appropriate attitude, maybe everyone play fairly, maybe competition can be a good thing.

But I think that competition makes the gamer more interesting, or more fun to do, like in the Olympics, they are competing for the top three, you can’t keep your eyes away from the screen.

But you need people to play fairly, not cheating and fighting with each other. For example, if a game, everyone play the game just want to win the prize, and by any means you can, it’s easy to cheat others, and then the game just lose its fun.

But I think that competition doesn’t bring up those cheating issues. Because the point is why people compete, is because they want to be satisfied with themselves, and the people they’re concerned with. And I think everyone has their own measurement in their mind, so I winning so I feel happy, but on the other hand if I cheat I probably won’t be happy if I simply work hard. Competition is natural. I don’t think that if there is no competition there would be…I mean, … just don’t think that cheating or other kind of morality issues are secondary, because the point is that they want to be satisfied. So winning is plus, and cheating and winning is minus, so if minus is bigger than plus, so I wouldn’t be worried, because if people just want to enjoy something that other people cannot get, but I think the process is another question. So I think I tend to be a, but not totally a, because I don’t think competition is necessary to improve the world, because it’s just the process by which they can be satisfied with themselves.

I think I’m team d too, because I agree with team a and b but not completely. I agree that competition brings progress, but it also brings aggression. So I think competition is necessary, but not…it depends on its, how to../it’s hard to describe, but I think in some cases, we need competition, just like the commercial, business world, it needs competition, but, I think benign competition is necessary. But the other malignant competition is not necessary for human nature.

What exactly is team d’s position?

Competition is necessary, but we should consider the scale of competition. If the competition have scale from 0 to 10, and the business case must about 7, but in human and human interaction, must be lower to scale 2, I think. It’s an intangible indicator. It’s hard to describe. I want to say competition is necessary, I should say, not based on competition, not human nature.

For example?

Interaction, or…
you mean like a conversation? But how about now we are classmates, but one day we talk about business…

business is business but in daily life I think if in daily life conversation if we talk too much competition….

But how about in office and schools, how do you avoid competition.

I think it’s about education.

I think its about attitude. If everyone treat themselves not based on others’ view…

I have no special attitude toward competition. It’s necessary, but too much leads to aggression and not evil, but war? I think Iraq is about competition. So I’m neutral.

You think maybe 0 to 10, you’re…

5. I’m five.

I don’t know, from Maggie’s point I think that people who, in our daily life, we can see some people who love to compete so much.

[general agreement]

people who love to compete have some kind of personality which make you hard to get along with. It usually happens! Those people who love to compete force themselves and force others a lot, so that’s a problem.

But I think it’s a different definition of compete. For myself, I agree with competition, because I define the competition is to, uh, to do something better than others, but not to beat others, just like the definition in this article. So if in this definition a competitive person not always force others, they will only force themselves. So that’s why I emphasize the attitude towards the competition. Because in this article, this article denied the competition because he thinks people who compete always hurt others and lose, do not well in their performance. But I think that’s because they focus to much on how to beat others, how to hurt others, not on how to improve themselves.

That’s right, because I think fanny just reminds me of something, like table tennis training in my high school days, that playing well is different than playing for in. playing well is doing our fundamentals like pull, push, everyone has those standard movements, but some people just like to touch the ball, they just want to win, and the ball just drops in front of the net, and it’s hard to hit, and you lost, finally, so it’s depends on your attitude, you want to get something out of it, or you just want to play for winning.

Just like in tuisho. I found that if you play to push people over, you can’t develop your skill to the highest level.

Some people don’t like to play to win, because of the pressure, they get stomach problems before the competition. But I think, even though I don’t like competition, but I should have the attitude that I’m ready for the competition. Because I think playing well and playing to win are different.

They why do you ready yourself for a competition?

If I’m going to join a competition, and it’s a completely different story, even though I don’t like it, I have to prepare myself, because others don’t have the same mindset as you. So you have to get ready or you’ll lose. Some people will be satisfied, if they go out and play well, but I won’t be satisfied, I don’t like competition, but I don’t like losing.

So if you don’t like competing and don’t like losing, why compete?

I think it’s inevitable. I won’t initiate a competition for myself. I won’t actively win something, I won’t overtake someone in a field, but sometimes, your boss, or your parent want you to win it for them.

Okay, but why do you want to do it for them.

Well, basically I don’t want to win it for them, I want to win for myself, but the point is there’s always some outside pressure, someone who’s a very important in your life wants you to win it.

So isn’t that the problem?

I think that’s the basic situation here. There’s two kinds of competition. There’s the artificial competition, and there’s the one from inside yourself, you want to do it better than others, on your own, for your own satisfaction, and the artificial competition, you do it for others, the others want you do it, but actually they wont say it, but in reality they’ll be more satisfied.

So, isn’t that the bullshit part? you become their proxy!

But they won’t say that.

Of course, but then why do you do it.

Because you want more salary, so you must compete for your boss.

Also the limited opportunity in your world. Just like there are only two apples, and we have fie people, and we all of us need apples to survive, to live better, but there’s only two apples, so we need to compete with the peer to gain the apple.

Why don’t we just use Mary’s fruit knife and cut them up?

But if one person want to gain all of the apples

That’s capitalism

Okay but if we want to share the apple, we need to all have the concepts to sharing. But if only one want to gain all the apples, it push others to join the game.

But there’s five of you if four people want to share, then the other guy has not choice.

But the point is that there’s a hierarchy structure, and the boss has the authority to order you to fight for the apple. To divide the resource, because if you look like…if it seems that you fight hard, you get more apples from him, and you want more. Maybe a whole apple is two large, and you only want .28 of an apple. Actually I don’t like the winner takes all. I’m not pretty sure because I’ve never actually worked at a company. I know that my parents, your parents want you to win, because a lot of parents know…they want you to start well, because it’s their pride so they can talk to their neighbors

Yes, I hate this so much!!
[general agreement]

but we say that you studied for yourself because you can earn money, and get credit

but now I have learned how to ignore their voice to help me to do something for them. because I realize one day, no matter what I done, oh no, no…even though I done the most for them, to satisfy their goals, they have more and more things they expect I to achieve, so then I told myself, just ignore their voice, I just do myself. And I found that because I am their child, no matter what I do, they finally support my decision. So for our parents, I think we can try to change their mind. but for others, like a boss, I think it’s hard not to follow their order.

Yeah, so if, well basically I don’t think competition itself is inhuman, but what we’ve just mention is the inhumane part in competition.

But how do we have competition without all this other bullshit?

What do you mean?

Like without being your parent’s gladiator?

Well, most people can order you around.

But I think, you can choose to be not ordered around. I think freedom is choosing not to listen to people who restrict you.

Okay, with parents, it might be okay, but it’s not okay with other things.

But ultimately you’re the one who’s responsible for your decisions. Sure, it might have bad consequences for you, but ultimately it’s you who chose. So the soldier who’s told to kill a little girl, he ultimately chose to pull the trigger. Sure, if he didn’t, he’d be thrown in jail and lose his job and lose the respect of his buddies, but he can also choose to kill the girl and save himself from all that. Either one, it’s his responsibility.


But I don’t want to hurt my parents, that’s why I listen to them.

You know, it took me a long time to decide not to listen to my parents, but I agree with Angela, it’s your choice, and it’s okay, but remember, that’s your choice, not your parents choice. It’s your choice to follow your parents’ decision. Everyone has to take responsibility for their own life.

I want to go back to the original debate. I think this must be one way to create a game with less bullshit things, but maybe for company, we need to, why those workers like to compete, because the measure to decide how much bonus they get is wrong, is based on their performance, but nowadays more companies change the measure. They measure the work employee can get bonus based on the whole company, not based on individual performance this way people still need to do their best work.

But I have an example that not competition leads to progress. Just like some scientists found some phenomenon, but they don’t want to compete to anyone, they just want to find the true principle of this world. So competition is necessary, but not absolutely be-all and end-all.

Hsinchu Discussion Transcript: Competition

The result of the competition, there’s only two results, to win the competition or to lose the competition

That’s the author’s opinion, there’s nothing good about it.

I’m just asking about the working definition.

That’s his opinion, he can bite, we can bite back.

So Americans are really this competitive?

Yes, I think we are all deeply competitive.

So why is this so?

A combination of ‘rugged individualism’ and a school system that trains us all to competition and comparison.   (Against SchoolThe Story of Stuff)

I’ll try to define my definition of competition. It’s an alternative to drive people to improve their capability to live, and of course, the outcome of the competition is depends on the rule, just like all the sports game, so if we can define the clear rule, and the role of each members in the team, we can avoid the effects of some, how to say, some behaviors to break the teamwork. So also, it seems it makes it doing to think some like, the topics we have, we discussed like anarchy, in the pirate ship, if we can set up a fair rule, to encourage every member in the team to do their best to cooperate with others, to achieve the goal, and they will, everybody will get benefits from the outcome of their teamwork, so, I think the, we still need to set some rule to encourage everybody to contribute his idea. So I think the competition itself, we cannot say is good or bad, it’s just the working rule. 

My opinion is, I will say, the question is, is competition is inhumane, I will say yes, but I don’t agree team b’s opinion. It’s inhumane, because the result is only win or lose, and the reward is based on taking from others, so it’s inhuman. But I’m against the statement in team b, I would say competition is always existed, no matter what your interested, to involved in compete with other people. Competition needs game rules, and you need better rules or to follow the rule to play the game. So I support that competition is inhumane, but I will say that healthy competition does exist. So we need to create healthy competition in our society.

Regarding this topic, I wont say it’s inhumane, so I choose team a, no, but I don’t really agree with the following statement. I would say that the problem doesn’t lie in competition or cooperation, but in the background. So we have competition, so what? Competition is kind of a good thing to drive your momentum to become better. After there’s some ranking, but so what? After the test, the ranking doesn’t really matter. We try to classify in different level, that’s where the problem comes up. Just like the entrance exam for university. Say you need some certain score to get in this department. So the top students will go to medical school, and so doctors have high social rank now. And the second best people were made to study engineering, and the third best were made to study law.
So it was not logical, but it was fair. But that’s what I’m talking about. 
Let me give another story. A fisherman, got a fish, but he death rate in a certain location, so he found the enemy fish, or his counterpart. So it’s better than before, the landscape changed, because another counterpart, so the fish, they’ve got to survive, so after some time, they find the death rate decrease. So the competition is not really the bad thing. So competition or cooperation is a kind of skill or tool you choose. So people choose you based on you are counterpart. If I think you can’t compete, I won’t even try to compete with you. 
So it’s a kind of tool, you choose the one that benefit you the most, based on what you are looking for.

So competition is a means to help you evaluate something. 

So, you could ask, is cooperation inhumane? It’s just a tool. It’s just nature, it’s just a part of life. You could either choose cooperation or competition.

I want to raise a question; for the competition, the outcome of competition is the reward?

Not really, it’s because we define it this way.

That is my question, as you say, competition and cooperation are tools, so the standard you want for evaluation is what goal you want to achieve. So what is the reward you get for competition or coop.

So I’ll give you another story. My kid is in a baby yoga class, for physical training. Some kids perform better, some not so good. So the kids that perform better get a sticker.

So that’s an incentive.

So that’s where the problem comes in, they get home and they are discouraged if they don't get a sticker, so the parents say that the teachers have to give the child the same thing, so they don’t get discouraged. So the problem is not competition, but the rewarding system. So you’re good, you deserve something, or you’re bad, so you don’t get something. So the reward system is where the problems come in.

So you don’t support forming an incentive system, or before you do something, to have incentives is not important? 

My point is if you can’t propose a better way, then you shut up. So I don’t have a better idea, I really can’t say. So I can accept incentives, but only because I don’t know a better way. But you can’t design the value of competition.

So you agree that competition is a good way to do thing. You mean the problem is in the incentive system.

The thing is, what are we looking for. The problem is that resources very limited. If we were all in heaven, everything is unlimited, you don’t have to worry about money, anything, so there’s no problem there, you have everything, so you don’t need to compete. And you’re in heaven now, you’re not in hell any more, so then you can compete for fun, because you can have anything, anyway. But in the real world, nothing could be equally distributed, so of course then people will compete for it. 

For technical training, you say, just give us the idea, under some constraints you have to find the optimum solution, so you have to prioritize … our thinking is you have to prioritize what you have to develop, and the sequence, and the higher priority, you have to put more effort, and more resources to support to do it, so you give more motivation or more incentive to choose some goal.

I don’t think cooperation and competition are in competition, they can work together. Incentive works for cooperation too. So you choose which tool based on what you want to choose. So I wont say it’s inhumane. But the incentive system is another thing, but I don’t have a better system, so I don’t say anything. if we were in heaven, we all could have a million dollars. But in real life, it’s different. So you select the appropriate strategy. You said that incentive could also go to cooperation, so it’s used for either thing.
The author really thinks it’s evil, but without competition, life would be too easy.

That’s an interesting thing to say.

I would say cooperation is the union of competition and healthy competition.

Demonstrate, man! I want to know what this means.

Cooperation means you allow some competition, but the cooperation involves some positive conflict. The healthy competition is the positive side of comp. so cooperation is the union of competition and healthy comp. negative competition is just conflict and just trying to be the winner, and not the loser. But healthy competition is everyone want to achieve the group goal, so the group is the only winner, so everyone is winner. As you say, competition and cooperation are tools.

Actually I’m thinking if there’s any bad thing about cooperation.

If some lazy worker in your office, so just rides on everyone else’s coattails, so that’s bad cooperation.

So, I think we cannot, after so much discussion--competition and cooperation also lend themselves to be pos or neg. The key point should be what’s the goal or purpose we hope to achieve. So we can use competition to achieve bad things, like military condition, or some kind of condition, its purpose is not to save people, is to kill people. If we use competition in the military game, so it’s a bad way. Of course for the cooperation, not all cooperation is positive. If there’s a team of thieves, then their work is bad.

That’s not the fault of cooperation, but the purpose they’ve put it to!

Exactly, so it’s not good or bad. We can use either one to contribute to human welfare, or we can use it to ruin the earth. If the goal is to improve the people’s life, not only for the small group’s benefits, so we can say the competition is a good way to encourage people or countries to take more investment, for example, in technical development, or current the oil price is very high. If most countries can cooperate to make some alternative energy, so all the people benefit from this competition, no matter if between us and Russia, all kind of countries. 
Another issue is, I think the sports game. All the game, I think, you have to define some reward system. So of course, we have winner, and loser, in each game. But I think the key point is what kind of a game, the purpose to pursue. Some we see a lot of baseball game, so two leagues, one is professional, it itself is a commercial activity, people buy tickets to watch your game. So of course they want to enjoy, they enjoy seeing competition. Nobody can endure always the game is 0 to 0 so most people would find that boring. But for not the professional game, it’s purpose is to arrange more the corporation, like the Olympics, it’s purpose is not to encourage every country to get the golden prize by any means, even the illegal way, that’s not the purpose. So like Wilson said, that’s a healthy competition.
In this article, he had some negative description of competition, like negative, conflict.

I want to raise the question again: is the outcome of competition only winner or loser?



Come again?

Who is the winner, who is the loser, is the only components?

Yes, it’s very important. Sometime, you can learn more.

You say who wins, who loses is not important.


If you say that, why do we need competition?

As a means of inspiring progress. Competing for upgrading.

Like playing against your own score on a video game.

I mean, just developing yourself.

So you support competition is a part of human nature?

It’s nothing really bad. If you are always winner, I would say you won’t learn much from the competition. But if you are the loser, you’ll learn a lot, so that’ s good.

So you say there’s progress, think about the goal. How do you guarantee to achieve the goal?

It’s a kind of continuous improvement, so you can live up to that goal step by step. If you don’t get it the first time, it’s okay, you try again. You don’t say you finish the goal, but you try it in stages. If I fail, I can take the lesson, and I can do the next goal more easily.

So there’s no reward or punishment. 

Punishment is you lose! But next time you come back. But it could be the reward system, or your feeling that drives you. What’s important is what you are looking for. Maybe this time you lose 10 percent on the stock market, but maybe next time you get it back!

So the important thing is we have the same goal or objective. If it’s different, then we belong to different groups, so it’s not apply to your rule.

What do you mean?

As you said, it’s a progress. So the progress is we want to achieve the goal.


So if we have different goals, we can’t apply your rule. 


So competition is only under the same goal. 

That’s the game rule, right? If we have different goals, then what are we competing for? The goal is the outcome that everyone’s interested in. Only the number one, or the top three, has the right to share the result. So I think about the point is the competition, just like Kevin said, you lose once doesn’t mean you lose forever. And important is who judges who is the winner and the loser.

I can judge myself, I’ll give an example: I don’t want to achieve the goal, so I volunteer to lose. And therefore I’m the winner, because I don’t join the competition.

Well, everybody is free! 

So I can judge myself.

Actually, my main point is, if our same objective is making money, then we have different ways, maybe sometimes we’re in direct competition, but probably not. We have the same objective, but it doesn’t mean we have direct competition.

Direct, but how about indirect?

But you’re talking about a very specific, say baseball, maybe you have a different specialty, but in business, I can make money, in this respect, so it’s not really competition.

Because Angela mentioned the direct competition. How about implicit competition?

Can you define?

It’s under the fence, it’s not direct, but it will cause competition. For example, I‘m not competing with you, but because we want to achieve our respective goals, so we might have some competition.


What do you mean by question five?  

"5. Isn’t the price exacted, in terms of our social relationships, quality of life, and other intangible indicators, too high, just to have some mythical product quality?"

Well, we get something but we lose even more than what we get.

So we put our resources into the physical, into the products, at the cost of ignoring the intangible.

Like, whether or not you see your family more than once a week.

So some people say the invention of the walkman, somehow is separate the communication channel between people.

Yeah, we’re not even listening to these same music anymore.

That’s the side effect of the internet.

Yes, you could say that it helps people communicate better, but you could also say it only helps you communicate with people you agree with.

At least, from the apprentice tv show, it seems that trump encourages people to cooperate. 

Yeah? I’ve never seen it.

Yes, because everyone on the show has expertise, so why every time the one team lose and one team win, has nothing to do with their individual capability, because everyone could be chosen to join, they all have qualification. I think the key issue is leadership. Every time the competition, they will select the one team leader to guide the team for every mission. After watching the tv show, I think the trump’s final decision to who gets fired, I saw most of the survivors...(General laughter)...the final survivor is actually not the most excellent in leadership. I think the key point is communication with other team member.

I agree with you.

It’s a group competition, because in the end of each mission, someone gets the boot. So I don’t know, this article is about 15 years old, maybe something has changed.

Well, according to some articles I've read, the new generation in the US has to work together, they’re insecure to not work together, and they need constant feedback.  And I think this comes from a new kind of schooling, where they used behavior models to get people to work. Like the ones where, as the animal moves closer and closer to the behavior you want, you encourage it step by step with little food rewards.  It's how you get a fish to swim in a circle around something on command.

I think the mission impossible model is the better model. 

Each team member has complete responsibility for the whole thing going wrong, you mean. 


But the apprentice model, there’s no organizer, no one trusts each other, and in the end, nobody can control. But in mission impossible, they work well together.

But you’ve just proved his point, cooperation = mission impossible. Competition = the apprentice.

But mission impossible, you choose your companions, but in the apprentice, you're just thrown together. I think they design the team in the wrong way. Trump says, I assign you as the team host, and so you have some degree of responsibility, because you’re the organizer, but maybe not 100%, but it’s better than no leader. But then you try to finish the goal, it’s really complicated. So the whole show is in chaos.

It’s chaos because they can’t work together.

Right, and they can’t work together because they know that sooner or later these people will be their competition, so they don’t dare trust too much.