What If Our Knees Bent the Other Way?


(Inspired by Gallagher, the watermelon-smashing comedian, who asked, “If your knees bent the other way, what would a chair look like?”)

We humans are quite the mixture. We are selfish, competitive, individualistic creatures. And we are also selfless, cooperative, social creatures. It’s a miracle we’re not constantly confused.

In the United States, we’ve set up our economic system to appeal to our competitive, individualistic side. If we each pursue our self-interest, the “market” will rule. (Not really, of course, but play along with me.) And then we use government to mitigate the excesses of competition. So we have anti-trust laws, we have environmental legislation, we prohibit usury — well, we did once upon a time. And when we are lax in checking the excesses of our competitive urges, sometimes we bail out the too-big-to-fail perpetrators of the excesses.

Here’s where Gallagher comes in. What if our knees bent the other way? What if our economic system was set up to encourage our cooperative, social natures? And what if we used government to deal with the excesses of cooperation? Kind of a weird thought, isn’t it — the “excesses of cooperation”? It’s almost oxymoronic.

Maybe if we just hyper-extended our knees a little bit.