In game theory, the Prisoner’s Dilemma explains why players don’t cooperate and screw each other over even when they would all benefit by cooperating. You can read about the theory here or you can see a real world application here.
Governor Rick Scott expressed his support this afternoon for expansion of Florida’s Medicaid program, describing the decision as a choice between “having Floridians pay to fund this program in other states while denying health care to our citizens — or using federal funding to help some of the poorest in our state with the Medicaid program as we explore other health-care reforms.”
The decision is a major reversal for Scott, whose 2010 electoral victory derived largely from his fight against the Obama health law. It apparently came after furious lobbying by Florida conservatives and Scott allies to keep him from breaking ranks.
Rick Scott wins. See, many states, following the SCOTUS ruling last summer, have told the administration to get bent. They aren’t going to accept temporary federal lucre to expand Medicaid. Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin and a whole bunch of other GOP led states decided not to expand the program under Obamacare. They will pay the Medicaid rate increases, but they won’t expand the reach of the welfare program.
In Florida, Rick Scott said he didn’t expect to expand it but held off making a decision. Now that he knows who will and who won’t expand, he has decided to take the federal money and expand the program.
This, then, represents a direct transfer of wealth to Florida from Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin and a whole bunch of other GOP led states. At this point, according to the theory behind the Prisoner’s Dilemma, all the states that said they wouldn’t expand Medicaid should reverse their decision. After all, why should Wisconsin, for example, send tax dollars to Florida? Reversal would be a rational choice.
In this way Rick Scott, by being the first prisoner to “cave in and confess”, hands Obama and Obamacare a huge victory.
This is why socialism creeps. Even Conservatives want the money and are willing to roll over to get it.
Interesting side note; the Prisoner’s Dilemma usually leads to another economic principal: The Tragedy of the Commons.