At Least 99% Of People Are Good

It shouldn’t surprise me anymore but for some reason it still does. Almost everybody I meet is actually a pretty good person. Reading the news and listening to the radio would make you think that whole world is made up of child molesters and terrorists. Experience has taught me that this is just not the case. Sure, the bad guys are out there but they are a tiny minority.

This is not coming from some sappy optimist. I’m just about as hard boiled of a pragmatist as you can imagine. I’m for capital punishment. I’m a strong supporter of the Second amendment. You get the picture. I dislike crime and crooks with a passion.

Most of all, I hate waste. It is awful to see laws passed and policemen employed to protect us from risks that don’t exist. An amazing statistic is that an American is more likely to be struck by lightening than to die from a terrorist attack. The crime rate is currently at an all time low. Yet, we’re allowing the protection industry to swindle us.

Think about it. If you were to turn off the TV and stop reading the paper, how much bad stuff would you witness. The answer is almost none. You might see a really bad car accident once in your life. We all know somebody who has lost a family member in tragic fashion. When these terrible events occur we mourn, we console, and we try to cope. Luckily, they don’t happen all that often.

If an average life lasts 67.2 years, that comes out to 24,528 days. Let’s say that a person experiences 5 tragedies in their life. That might be overestimating it, but lets use the number.  Using these numbers we can calculate that something really horrible happens once every 4,905.6 days. In other words, not very often at all.

If we continue to work with the bad occurrence metric we can find some other interesting stats. Of the really terrible tragedies, far and away the most devastating are weather and health related. Natural disasters wipe out a lot of people all out once. So do plagues. Unfortunately, not much can be done to protect against a massive earthquake or hurricane. If you have the bad fortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’re toast. Sicknesses are being fought against using modern research and technology. However, a flash pandemic could take a lot of people out in spite of medical progress.

Next on the list of really dangerous stuff is not terrorism. Its not assault with a deadly weapon. Throughout history, governments have wreaked terrifying havoc on people. Think of the Mongolians. They ravished the Persians to such an extent that Iran is just now getting back to its pre-Mongol population. Think about Attila the Hun, The Inquisition, Napoleon, Legalized Slave Trading, Imperialism, The Ottoman Empire, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Rwanda, and Yugoslavia. This is obviously a very truncated list.

In the grand scheme of things, very few people die from using cocaine and marijuana. Yet we’ve blown hundreds of billions of dollars on a drug war. Surely more people have died in smuggling marijuana than would have died if marijuana was sold legally.

Of course those who govern and those who are powerful make up a very small percentage of the human population. They are the ones who doing all the damage. Almost everybody else, with the exception of a tiny percentage of people who are criminals, does no harm to anybody. Quite the opposite. We open doors for each other. We smile at each other. All day long at work we perform helpful services for others.

It would be a mistake to assume that all rich people are powerful. That is not precisely correct. Yes, rich people have the wealth to command more resources than others. In than sense they do have more power than a regular Joe. However, rich people, without the help of government, are unable to force you to do something you don’t want to do. They don’t have the moral authority to kill you or put you in a cage. They can’t make you fight in a war if you don’t want to. All they can do is attempt to secure your services voluntarily by offering you a portion of their wealth.

Government is a whole different story. If they want, they can pass laws to make just about anything illegal. When you break their arbitrary laws they can take money from you as a penalty or put you in jail as punishment. In 26 states if you get caught breaking their rules three times, they can lock you up for the rest of your life.

All this, when everything is actually pretty good. If people could just be left alone to live their lives everything would be perfectly fine. Yes, there would still be natural disasters. Yes, people would still get sick. Yes, there would still be poor people. At least the needed resources to deal with those problems wouldn’t be squandered on non-issues.

The next time you read the newspaper or hear about some awful thing on TV, take a second to mourn, but then think about good your life is. You wake up every morning. You live on a planet that is very hospitable to human life. People love you and you love them back. On the way to work thousands of big metal objects go whizzing by you and yet you make home without incident 99.99% of the time. People from different countries cook exotic food for you. All you have to do is push a button and the best entertainers in the world will dazzle you with jokes, music, singing, and dancing.

People are good and life is good. We’re all surrounded by folks who wish us no harm. In fact, most people spend a good part of their day trying to make the lives of others better.

There are, however, a small group of people who do wish us harm. Not the terrorists. They’re much closer to home than that. I’ll give you a hint, they take money out of your paycheck without your permission.

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