What's Good for the Goose is Almost Never Good for the Gander

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It's often said that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander," meaning that if something is good for or benefits one person, it is likely to benefit the group of which they are a part.

I'm curious about this idea, though. In a situation of limited resources, that doesn't seem to hold up; if I were given my state's entire treasury, for instance, it would undoubtedly be good for me, but disastrous for the state as a whole.

Obviously this is a reductio ad absurdum, but on a more moderate level, I am curious: in a situation of limited resources, does the improvement of one member's well-being tend to improve or deteriorate the well-being of its group?

For instance, increasing a government-mandated minimum wage: individuals being paid more money will be benefited, but the economy as a whole is (or at least could be) harmed. But is this a necessary conclusion or a side-effect of chaotic real-world forces?

ilinamorato

Posted 2013-08-29T20:50:38.887

Reputation: 111

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"What's good for the goose is good for the gander" does not mean that if something is good for or benefits one person, it is likely to benefit the group of which they are a part. Wikipedia has a related essay.

– None – 2013-08-31T08:11:25.343

Answers

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In a situation of limited resources, that doesn't seem to hold up; if I were given my state's entire treasury, for instance, it would undoubtedly be good for me, but disastrous for the state as a whole.

I think you are misunderstanding, or mis-applying, the rule.

If being given the state's entire treasury is good for you, it would likewise be good for someone else if that person were given the entire treasury.

in a situation of limited resources, does the improvement of one member's well-being tend to improve or deteriorate the well-being of its group?

That depends upon how you define "the well-being of the group".

Suppose we have 10 people who each have one loaf of bread, and compare them to 10 people, where 9 have nothing and 1 has 10 loaves of bread.

What is your metric for measuring the well-being of the group?

Michael Dorfman

Posted 2013-08-29T20:50:38.887

Reputation: 22 863

This is a fascinating question I hadn't considered: what metric do we use for well-being? – ilinamorato – 2013-09-03T01:04:45.790