No One Man Should Have All That Power

As I read through chapter 12 and thought about power, Nash bargaining equilibrium, and the Ultimatum Game I couldn’t help but to immediately think about 50 Cent’s TV series on SHOWTIME Power and also the popular HBO series “The Wire.” In the spirit of economics I’ll begin with some assumptions that are generalizations and more than likely will have some holes, but for the sake of the post and making sure every reader understands bear with me! First assumption, none of the readers have seen Power, my second assumption, only a few of you watched “The Wire.” Consequently, I’ll give a brief overview. Power- a drug dealer in attempts to launder his money opens a club in New York. As his club becomes more successful he sees this as a way to get out of the drug game and puts more efforts into making the club profitable much to the dismay of his wife and close friends. A shooting in his club at the end of the first season forces him to focus on selling drugs as a main source of income. The Wire – A show that focuses on Baltimore drug dealers and the relationship with the city’s infrastructure (police, unions, school district, politics, and newspaper/media). In essence, both shows have a focus on drugs and crime, but economically speaking black markets.

In regards to bargaining and power in networks, there is one scene in The Wire that I found to be hilarious and entertaining and explains power. In the final season, Marlo Stanfield replaces Avon Barksdale as the West Side of Baltimore’s major drug kingpin as Barksdale has been indicted and sentenced to a long jail sentence (however, prior to going to jail Marlo was beginning to overtake Barksdale). As Marlo is rising in the ranks he joins a co-op featuring all of the prominent Baltimore drug dealers. In this co-op the drug dealers work together with their drug connect named who is able to supply the dealers who control various sections of Baltimore with a low price in bulk, while the drug dealers are able to keep the police off of them because they are keeping murders down by working together. Initially, Marlo resisted joining the co-op as he saw all forms of competition as his enemy and reluctantly joined solely because of guarantees of lower prices as he gained more of Barksdale’s territory. However, when Barksdale (who also hated the co-op) is in jail, Marlo pays (literally and pun intended just wait for it) Barksdale a visit in hopes of getting his connect who supplied him with drugs. After Marlo agrees to pay Barksdale’s mom 100,000, Barksdale arranges a meeting between Marlo and his supplier named “The Greek.” After numerous meetings and payments, Marlo gains the trust the Greek and has a direct connection to a supplier who will sell him large quantities of drugs at a wholesale price, thus Marlo no longer needs the co-op. Still, the co-op has a separate connect, but only one man Proposition Joe has the relationship which allows for all of the drug dealers to get the wholesale price. Unsurprisingly, Marlo then kills Proposition Joe calls the co-op to meet in which he informs the other dealers he has killed Joe and has a new connect, so in order to get drugs you must come through him. You can see the exact scene here Marlo is the guy in the black shirt controlling the meeting .

While the majority of my post explained Power and the Wire, the underlying factor I found interesting is the importance of power in black markets where relationships negotiations on “who” to know are equally as important as the good being sold. These networks are contingent upon bridges connecting components as we discussed a the beginning of the year. Until this chapter I had not truly considered the power aspect or the dependence and exclusion that are brought up in chapter 12. If this clip interests you I suggest watching the entire series!