The concept of zero-sum is generally from game theory and economic theory. Zero-sum describes a situation in which a participant's gain or loss is precisely balanced by the losses or gains of the other participant(s). When we subtract the total profits of the participants from the total losses it will equal zero. A situation where the benefits and losses to all players sum to the same value of money (or utility) are zero-sum. In contrast, non-zero-sum describes a case in which the interacting parties' aggregate gains and losses are either less than or more than zero. Non-zero-sum is a Situation where participants can all gain or suffer together. An example of non-zero-sum will be when a country with an excess of bananas is trading with another country for their surplus of apples, since both benefit from the transaction, is in a non-zero-sum situation. An example of zero-sum is Cutting a cake. It is zero-sum because taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others.
In political terms, socialists consider national economies as a zero-sum game (if A grows $5,000 richer, it is because B is $5,000 poorer). Whereas, capitalists consider economies a non-zero-sum game (human enterprise creates new wealth far out of proportion to any transfers or resource depletion, and voluntary transactions address the preferential desires of both parties).
Considering our current economic woes, we need to rethink the capitalist premise. As wealth increases, inflation increases also driving the present value of money down. It ends up being mere perception. We have also seen that the wealth created is in the hands of fewer and fewer, and an increasing majority is falling below the poverty line. This fact leads us to understand that the wealth created is at the backs of those who are poor or become poor. We have seen this pattern happen throughout the six thousand years of earth history.
In the days before the flood, this kind of evil was rampant. Ellen White spoke of this. Let us read,
Instead of doing justice to their neighbors, they carried out their own unlawful wishes. They had a plurality of wives, which was contrary to God's wise arrangement. In the beginning, God gave to Adam one wife--showing to all who should live upon the earth, his order and law in that respect. The transgression and fall of Adam and Eve brought sin and wretchedness upon the human race, and man followed his own carnal desires, and changed God's order. The more men multiplied wives to themselves, the more they increased in wickedness and unhappiness. If anyone chose to take the wives, or cattle, or anything belonging to his neighbor, he did not regard justice or right, but if he could prevail over his neighbor by reason of strength, or by putting him to death, he did so and exulted in his deeds of violence. They loved to destroy the lives of animals. They used them for food, and this increased their ferocity and violence, and caused them to look upon the blood of human beings with astonishing indifference. (1 Spirit of Prophecy, page 68).
Many antediluvians in their greed took more than what they needed depriving others of their needs. They abused nature and people to get what they wanted. Could it be that what we witness today is a fulfillment of Christ's prediction, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37)?
Doctor Luke writes about how it was among the church members in apostolic time. It is quite the contrast. He says in Acts 2: 44-45,
Acts2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Acts2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
The church members were together, having all things in common. No private property. Agape, selfless and other-interested love, was the motivator; not self-love. There was no "equal and fair" division. None took what they wanted, only what they needed. Those who needed less took less, and those who needed more took more. They all seem satisfied. Neither socialism nor capitalism could have worked it out. Only God's self-denying love can do that.