Machiavelli had interesting ideas about politics, but nothing that a child doesn’t know or understand. I believe adults understand less about politics than children; however that can be said about a lot of other subjects as well.

On the matter of politics, I believe it is more about economics and less about … well, whatever you think it is about. Politics and policy are both all about trade-offs. You must give something to get something, and what you give and get is based on your preferences, or those of your constituents, etc.

Therefore, if you want equality, you must give up some equality somewhere else. Take, for example, equal employment opportunities. If you want equality in the work place, then men and women should be able to hold the same positions. However, it is a known fact that women make less money than men. Therefore, you have equality of employment but unequal pay.

But let’s take a more obvious matter in political science: the security dilemma. Everyone wants security, but to achieve security means that you have to raise your military capabilities, which makes your neighbors nervous and causes them to reaise their capabilities, then you must raise yours again, and the cycle continues. Thus, to achieve security you have to place yourself in a position that leaves you uncertain about your actual security, given your neighbors’ insecurities.

These are just a couple of examples of how politics and policy are just extrapolations of an economic model of trade-offs. If you want equality, you must lose what to you is equality. If the desirable things is equity, you must engage in inequality. If what you want it security, you must then make someone else lose his/her security. The rule of the game, then, is to know who is who in the playing ground (i.e. who loses security so you have have some, who suffers inequality so you can equity, etc.). Politics and policies is all about preferences (usually called interests) and trade-offs (usually considered loses), which affect a defined sector of society in a specific manner.