The whole prerogative about Skin in the Game is that being exposed to the harm of the decisions that you make is good for your health, your decision making and your wealth. Only when we are exposed to a certain level stress, we thrive: that’s the sole purpose of going to the gym. Even our immune system is built to learn; not being exposed to enough toxins and bacteria might be one of the causes of childhood leukaemia.
Certainly, those who bet other people’s money on the financial markets are less prone to double check, because there is virtually no downside to their recklessness. And yet, we do our best to avoid having skin in the game. Being harmed minimally in the short term to gain long-term resistance faces our most irrational opposition.
It first come to me that is the case because it’s easy; living above the consequences of our behaviour is short-term thinking, which aligns with how we approach life in general. Seeking an easy life is likely to be rooted in the cavemen that lives within us: he’s used to fight for his life on a daily basis, and we haven’t evolved to get used to not having to hunt for food anymore.
But in some cases we are not even aware of the bad consequences of our decisions. We aren’t trained to; after all, it is a byproduct of being conscious that we are born vulnerable, more than any other animal’s newborn, because of the Darwinian’s compromise between the size of our heads and the hips of our mothers. Someone has been taking care of our sake since we were born.
Only when we have skin in the game, we experience vulnerability. It’s feeling vulnerable what trigger our ‘fight or flight’ reaction, and we are evolutionary pressed to avoid such events. We run away with more or less success up to a point that sometimes the gap between one person and the next is so wide that it’s self sustaining. And that’s privilege, and ergodicity: the fact that some genealogies lean on the success of their ancestors to perpetuate their own success.
Let an illness, a duel, a runaway horse make us see death face to face, and how richly we should have enjoyed the life of pleasure, the travels in unknown lands, which are about to be snatched from us!
– Marcel Proust
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is just scratching the surface of our condition. We seek security, and then we move onto higher aspirations. It’s a process that it has both the carrot of a peaceful and happy life, but also the stick of misery and disgrace when we stop running from it.
I take as an axiom of human condition that what we earned, we don’t want to lose it. It’s rooted on the idea of property, which was developed around the time that we stop hunting and started harvesting; a time where we started to think a bit longer into the future.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”