Chubby, flat-footed and clutching my Ventolin, it’s no wonder that as a boy I rarely signed up for the football team – or any other form of competitive sport. For years I was unable to run the length of a football pitch without getting an asthma attack. Why compete for anything? The concept was beyond me.

Competition, of course, is part of evolution. It is also the dynamo of our economy, and the key accelerator for productivity growth. From cheap electronics and intensive farming to fast fashion, humans have managed to boost production in an indefinite and repetitive way in the style of the Mandelbrot ...


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