Everything is okay — In the long term. On the whole. On average.

Over the course of the last five hundred years or so an individual’s risk of death by murder — that’s all intentional untimely demises, amateur or professional, privatized or state-sponsored, individual or wholesale — has actually gone down. This is only true as an average, seeing as there are some locations (physical and/or in Hilbert space) that are much riskier than others, but it’s true nonetheless. So that’s good news.

Risk of death by negligence and neglect — this would be unintentional yet preventable untimely demises like those caused by curable diseases, starvation, exposure, unsafe housing, poisoned water/air/food supplies, etc. — also seems to be on the decline. On the whole. Averaged worldwide.

There are localized hot spots. In places where government is too weak to defend non-wealthy people from unprincipled wealthy people and/or where there is a dearth of compassionate wealthy people. But things are still better. In the long term. On the whole. On average.

So that’s good.


Look around you. You can tell there’s something a little kinky with this assessment. In the long term. On the whole. On average.

The problem is basically how averages work. In a situation like this, “average” is how you mathematically sweep the horror under the carpet of the doing-okay.

Say you have twenty people in a room, and all twenty of them together earn a million dollars per year. That’s $50,000 per head, so you might be inclined to think that everyone is basically okay. That will get you by if you budget, if you live in a reasonable neighborhood, if you don’t go nuts. Everything’s fine.

But consider. Maybe one of those people earns $600,000 all on his own. And another one earns $100k. That leaves $300k to be split among the remaining eighteen people, and by now maybe you’re suspecting that it possibly won’t be split into an even, meager $11,000 apiece.

That’s the root of the problem. It’s made quite a bit worse because we’ve created enormous machines out of paper that we’ve mistaken for people — machines that tie up an enormous proportion of resources because, for some reason, we allow them to own assets and money and real estate and, effectively, judges and councilmen and senators. Except we don’t count them as people when we do our math to calculate our precious averages. And we certainly don’t count them as people when it’s time to punish someone for the crimes of theft and bribery and murder. Somehow they simply turn invisible.

But you know, in the long term, on the whole, on average, everything is okay.


October 3, 2010 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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