A little fairy tale

In the central square of a small town, suffering from a very high unemployment rate, three former school-mates, Alice, Bob, and Carl, meet up again after some years.

Alice: "Bob! Carl! I'm so happy: after years of failed attempts, I finally got a real job! I specialized in doing something productive for other people and they give me money in exchange! I'm finally able to sustain myself and my family. There are many other openings in the company where I work, actually: I'm telling everybody, so they can join too!"

Bob: "This is clearly a scam, Alice. Getting a job is impossible, here, and even if it was possible, it's something inherently evil. We should all just trust the government and live off social security checks. Life in this town always worked like this. Only crazy anarchists, or greedy capitalists, would think about such perversions like...getting a job!"

Carl: "Don't listen to this dinosaur, Alice! Your job is great news! Bob lives in the past and he's jealous of his privileges because he gets a big social security check. I'm super excited for you, actually! And I have a job too! I make a living playing roulette in the newly opened local casino, just here next to us! Finally we can both sustain ourselves and our families!"

A: "Uhm...Carl...I appreciate your enthusiasm, but that's actually impossible. Casinos are made to scam everybody who is ignorant enough about probability theory. When a new one opens, like it just happened here, it's understandable that many people around it can live for some time in the delusion that the roulette could replace real jobs, but eventually they all get rekt. You know: the house always wins!"

C: "Woah! I'm disappointed, Alice! I though that, unlike Bob, you were all for free markets, for freedom of contracts and exchange! Now instead you want to force everybody to follow your "one real job" ideology! That's statism! Central planning! You are literally North Korea! You want to ban casinos! To prevent me from making my own choices!"

B: "Sure! And she is right! You punks should all be in jail. Gambling should be illegal. You are all criminals!"

A: "Hey, wait a minute here, both of you. I never ever said that somebody should use violence to prevent you, Carl, or anybody else, from gambling. I completely disagree with Bob here. I am all for freedom. People will make their choices and take their responsibilities. I'm just explaining to you that probability theory tells us that casinos are scams. Have fun there if you want. But you cannot sustain yourself and your family that way in the long run. Unless you ARE the house scamming other ignorant people. In that case you can make money even if that would raise some ethical concern. I would not use violence to stop you in that case either, actually...but since probability theory is my hobby, I hope casino owners in general don't get offended if I just explain, to everybody who listen, that that kind of business is a scam. Maybe some of those people "falling" for it actually know that, and they even enjoy it. That's entertainment business then. Cool by me. You guys go for it. But let me at least set the record straight about the truth of what's actually going on."

C: "Shut up! Get rekt? What are you talking about Alice? I made more money with my last roulette round than you made in this whole year of that "productive job" of yours. This proves that playing roulette in a casino is a sustainable strategy to make a living! I know a lot of other people who bought Lambos, this way! Lambos! They are very cool cars. I can show you the Lambos. You cannot deny reality."

A: "It doesn't work that way, Carl. Yes, you can win, but you can also lose. Everybody can win a few times, and a few people can win many times, but overall, for statistical considerations, most of the people will lose most of the time. Sure, you can cherry-pick, ex post, specific colors in specific times that would have made you more money than any conceivable productive job...but you cannot predict which one."

C: "Bullshit: are you telling me that you can be 100% sure of the future outcome of your job? There's randomness there as well! Maybe your company will fail, or maybe they will fire you. It's a very young company! It's always a risk! It's the same. If you can pick the right career path, I can pick the right colors at roulette."

A: "No, not really. While there's always a lot uncertainty, everywhere, there are a lot of complex (sometimes not even conscious) heuristics that we use to analyze fundamentals, and to frame probabilities ex ante. Sure, my specific career path may fail, but your roulette-based strategy CANNOT win, in the long run. There're sound logical arguments that you could use to predict that. There's uncertainty about my job, sure. But there's overall a reasonable certainty of failure in your gambling choice."

B: "Yeah, tell him, Alice! Gambling doesn't work! It cannot work! That's why it should be made illegal!"

C: "Shut the fuck up, Bob! Look, Alice, maybe those "logical arguments" and those "heuristics" of yours worked before, but who are you to predict the future? We cannot know the future! How can you launch serious accusations like "scam", if we are just limited human beings, who fail all the time at predicting the future? Maybe this time is different! Can you prove every assumption you are basing "probability theory" upon?"

A: "Eh, nice try. If you really want to go down that path, towards extreme epistemological relativism, we can possibly argue everything and its contrary, forever. It maybe fun. I could argue that we have no 100% mathematical certainty that we couldn't make a living just digging a hole in a random spot and finding a treasure chest. Who knows? I need a job to buy food, but actually I'm not even 100% sure that I would die if I didn't eat at all: it's just an inference from the past and from secondary sources, but I never run that kind of starving experiment on myself directly. And even if I did, trusting my memory about that experiment would still not rule out complex scenarios. Are we finished? Can we go back to some shared, basic, reasonable assumption about realism and common sense, in order to be able to extract some useful conclusion?"

C: "You're not the first one to say these bad things about casinos. A lot of people also say the same. That's clearly group thinking! Also, if you don't live surrounded by gamblers and casino owners, you're really just creating an echo chamber! Maybe you are not trying to prevent me from gambling with your physical force, but your excessive confidence in your ideas offends me, so in a way you are forcing me! This is a micro-aggression! You sound cultish, in your dogmatic fixation that my gambling strategy will fail, and that your "productive job" option is the only valid alternative to unemployment! You are like a cult leader! You also sound toxic, rude, unwelcoming! You are a ‘Job Maximalist!!!’"

B: "Bah! The hell with you two, with your "I want to make money" attitude! You are nuts. Both of you. Possibly even criminals. You should be arrested!"

A: "Shut the fuck up, Bob. Carl, this "Maximalist" thing doesn't make any sense. You're making this weird term up in order to frame my rational arguments as somehow "extreme". You are the one trying to challenge the very well established laws of probability in order to make a living playing roulette in the casino... that's an extreme position! Bob's absolute closure towards any change to this sad status quo, is an extreme position. I'm just happy I've found this job. It may fail, sure, but unemployment and social security checks did suck anyway, as an alternative, and living off gambling is just impossible. So, my position is actually very reasonable. The fact that other reasonable people converges toward it doesn't mean it's "group thinking". The fact I don't allow gambling promoters and advertisers to waste my time whenever they like is not "echo chamber". The fact I'm pretty confident about it, and I may not have the time or the will to defend it in depths every time I want to warn people about the problems with gambling, doesn't mean it's "dogmatic". The fact it could negatively interfere with the marketing efforts by the casino owner is unfortunate, but it doesn't mean I'm "toxic". That said, whatever: if you insist in calling me "Maximalist", I will be happy to adopt this label. This is also a good way to explain to this moron here, our friend Bob, that me and you do not represent the same position. I disagree with you about descriptive content just as much as I disagree with him about prescriptive method. You are defending scams and superstition, he is defending statism and prohibition. But at least now he knows that me and you are not the same. So, yeah, ok: I'm a ‘Job Maximalist’, now."

C: "Ah! You admit it! Ah-ah! Checkmate! You Maximalists are the worst! So out of touch with reality! You literally just stated that gambling is impossible...but look: a lot of people are entering that casino all the time, just as you speak! Look: that's the Mayor, entering right now! That's the Bishop! And there: the Marshall! If this "probability" theory of yours disagree with the simple reality that gambling DOES work, you should just ditch it in favor of reality. You are in denial! Why can't you admit that reality debunked your "probability theory"?

A: "Bullshit, Carl! Probability theory does tell me that casinos are scams, it doesn't tell me that scams cannot exist or even make a lot of victims, for very long time frames, among ignorant people. Especially since they want to believe in "easy money". For some times after a new casino opened up, the number of people believing the misleading claims made by the casino owner over probability-based arguments, could even be overwhelming! Feedback loops are very slow with this kind of thing. Even when the situation will eventually clear up, while reduced, there will always be some gambling activity! Maybe that specific casino will close down, maybe the roulette will be replaced by something else, but scams aren't going away. There's nothing in the theory implying that they will. But they will never work as an overall sustainable way to make a living, either."

C: "Ok, ok. Maybe you are right and we can say that roulette is not a sustainable way to make a living in the long term. But what about that very smart poker player I've heard about, using a mix of scientific methods and psychological skills in order to win more often than he loses? He's a professional poker player. He makes a living out of it! Ah-ah! What about him?"

A: "Look, Carl, I’ll admit there may be something interesting there, sure. But still, you’re talking about one single guy, possibly making a living for himself (but that’s debatable) with poker, which is not strictly speaking pure gambling. You cannot use this cherry-picking exception to justify the addiction of thousands of people to roulette and stuff like that. Even if that guy is really turning poker into a sustainable profession, it’s just a little drop in the giant ocean of shit we’re talking about here. If we want to discuss his case specifically, ok, I’m all for it. But we cannot generalize that situation into something like "gambling is a legit and sustainable way to make a living". The opposite is true. Here, let me scream it to all those dumb people entering the casino right now. HEY, YOU! THE CASINO IS A SCAM! STAY AWAY FROM IT! YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE ALL YOUR MONEY! GET A JOB INSTEAD! IF YOU DON’T...WELL...I DON’T LIKE UNEMPLOYMENT EITHER, BUT YOU’D BE BETTER OFF WITH IT THAN WITH GAMBLING!"

C: "STOP, you fool! You are driving people away from this city, and from the very idea of making money instead of relying on social security in general! You are playing Bob's game! They listen to those "scam" accusation you throw around against literally EVERYTHING which is not complying with your narrow vision of what "a productive job" is! You are scaring them! They are already scared enough by your "get a productive job" ideology, since they discovered that it's not egalitarian at all! If they want to apply for the open positions in your company, right now, they will have to start off as interns, performing humble tasks for you spoiled senior employees! That's so unfair! With roulette, they can have a fair access to the same opportunities of previous players!"

A: "First of all, that "everything" is just an oversimplification, clearly. I'm talking to people entering a fucking casino, so the fucking context should be clear: I'm only referring to the casino. And again, I don't feel like intellectual honesty dictates me to explicitly single out the story of that possible professional poker player. Nuances are hard to express, while screaming to people entering a noisy casino. If they get the message that the casino is scam, without nuances, they'll be better off anyway. The healthier default attitude in that environment is one of skepticism. If somebody asks me about nuances, I will discuss nuances. Also: egalitarianism is a scam. You are promising them equal chances with the roulette, but those are just equal chances at being rekt. My company is offering everybody the same opportunity, but the earlier you start working, the harder and smarter you work, the better off you are. That's life. Sorry it hurts your feelings!"

C: "Alice, Alice, Alice. Listen to me, Alice. Let's discuss this privately, shall we? I'm not gonna say it outloud, you'll understand me...but...I'm...well.. I'm actually a big shareholder in the casino. It's true that people entering now to play roulette there, will probably lose a lot of money. But when I play I actually win, because I get my share of the house profits. We could work together. You can have a share too. I'm not asking you to give up your evangelism effort for your productive job obsession. I'm just asking you to stop bashing the casino. Keep this boring probability theory arguments for yourself. Will you? What's your price?"

A: "Nah. Thank you, but no thank you."

C: "Fuck you, Alice! You toxic, dogmatic, fanatic, extremist! You intolerant cult leader! You're literally a terrorist! HEY! HEY EVERYBODY! ALICE, HERE, IS A TERRORIST! I TRIED TO REASON WITH HER, BUT SHE IS ACTUALLY DANGEROUS! SHE WILL RUIN ALL OUR GREAT MONEY-MAKER MOVEMENT! I USED TO GET ALONG WITH HER, ONCE...BUT I'M A POST-JOB-MAXIMALIST, NOW!"

A: "Wow! Fuck you, Carl. What an asshole!"

B: "Hey! Pssst! Hey Carl...wait a minute! Come closer. Our Alice here...she's really toxic, isn't she? So...what's that thing that you said before about the Mayor entering the casino? And the Bishop too? Uh! They are kinda my direct points of contact in the social security bureaucracy. And the Marshall? Wow. You know, Carl...while I'm forced by my position to go on bashing you both in public...surely you'll understand...I think we should work together in private. You know...this whole "get a productive job" madness...it's still small, but it's scary for me & my interest, in the long run. I'm sure it's scary for you and your interests as well! We should work together against that madness. I cannot promote a casino. But maybe...what about a national lottery?"

A: "Oh, c’mon! I mean...really? Fuck you, guys. Both."


Alice showing her beautyful long black hair in a rare picture:

Bob in a picture with a couple of friends:

Carl defending currency competition during a non-toxic conference:

Shout out to everybody who contributed to this (very difficult) choice:

Shout out to Michael Caras for fixing my broken English.