Monday, November 22, 2010

Innumeracy in Public Life

I've been thinking about this lately.  One major problem is that the people in charge of the state and federal governments are primarily lawyers.

Lawyers are people whose grasp on basic money principles is rather shaky.  Think about it - what's one of the commonest ways to structure a legal case?

1/3 - 2/3.

The lawyer takes a gamble that he can make enough of a nuisance of himself that he can recover his costs (plus a profit), even if he doesn't win.  He takes on enough of these cases that the odds favor him, and, as a result, makes a living even though he seldom wins.  Sort of like hitting the slots, hoping to break more-or-less even on most bets, over on a few (there's the "profit), and, occasionally hitting the jackpot.

Is this the mindset of someone we want to have responsible for our government budgets?

We need to encourage people who know how to balance their budgets; people who have a long-term approach to saving; people who realize that when the family income dips, that's not the time to take on more debt.

BTW, an old friend (now deceased) wrote a book explaining how math works in everyday life.

Probabilities in Everyday Life - if you click on the link, you can order it (the used copies cost only postage and a few pennies more).

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