Population In Perspective

Sorry I didn’t come up with a catchier title, but my brain is having more fun playing with a couple of observations. It all started with the phrase, “You’re one in a million.” I think you’re rarer than that.

As I type the estimate of the world’s population is just under eight billion; 8,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeroes. I’m not calling people zeroes, but that’s where we are, or will be after about 50,000,000 more births. Stay tuned. It isn’t far away. 

If a person is ‘one-in-a-million’ that suggests that there are almost 8,000 other people like them. The good news is that you are more likely to be one-in-eight-billion. That’s pretty special. That also means that if you are looking for that special someone who is ‘one-in-a-million’ you really have 7,999 others if one happens to be in a different country temporarily. Another way of looking at it, there are a LOT of fish in the sea.

The necessity of dating sites and the success rate of relationships suggest that the numbers may not be a good guide.

Another perspective I keep in mind goes back the one of my ancestors who signed the Declaration on Independence, Francis Hopkinson. Having such a less-than-celebrated ancestor is educational. The image of the perfect Founding Fathers got a massive reality check when I researched him. A fine guy, but he was very human.

Very human probably defined many of the signers. They all deserve credit for their work; but, it can be hard to remember that the prominent ones have been given that celebrity treatment, both in elevating them as well as chastising them. The rest did what they could, and I can easily imagine some of them treating the whole event as happenstance and dreading yet another committee meeting more than dreading the British.

But think about what the nation was working with. According to the US Census, the population of the colonies was about 2,500,000. One-in-a-million? That would explain two and a half of them. There were 56 signers. By the one-in-a-million metric most of them weren’t. And look at what they did. Imperfect? Duh. But, a successful revolution. (Maybe it’s about time to get out the polishing cloth, or at least the red pen for some editing of words that they knew were imperfect.)

Two-and-a-half million in perspective? That’s fewer than half the population of Greater Seattle. (And you are welcome to debate the Greater part. I am a long-time fan of the Lesser Seattle movement.)

A perspective I’ve shared before is based on my Dad. He was born just as the world population hit two billion (2,000,000,000). From what I could tell, he never quite understood why we had to worry about using up the planet’s resources. From his perspective there was plenty, and there always had been. He was born into a world that was celebrating another revolution, the Industrial Revolution. It was easy to think “This is great!”, or at least would be after he moved out of a coal mining town that was also experiencing the revolution that was the rising power of unions. (He’d also get to see the excesses of some of the unions with gangland style murders, and one episode that included a Teamster pointing a shotgun at his head at point blank range – and he was a member and past shop steward.)

Just out of curiosity, let me check the current world population (estimated).

Gee, there are more of us, now.

Supply and demand have changed. 

‘Go west, young man!’ Sure, look at what Lewis and Clark found. For over a century pioneers found the west, which worked well (but only for some.)

‘Work hard and build your own future!’ Which worked for my Dad, and benefited me and my brothers, too. We all went to college and built professional careers because our parents worked multiple jobs – until they didn’t have to. Then they went on cruises.

It didn’t work as well for my Mom, a woman who would probably be running a portion of the world instead of community projects. They were significant (building an ambulance service from an idea). She did impressive things, but she lived within limits. I wonder what she would’ve done in today’s world.

But now, some of the conventional wisdoms developed in those days no longer work. Anyone is allowed to work, which is liberating and welcome and necessary and just, but also doubles the supply of workers which has disrupted and confused sub-cultures and societies. As supply increases without an increase in demand, prices fall. This is one aspect of the new reality that some have yet to recognize, even though it has been changing since even before Rosie the Riveter had a chance to prove herself.

One-in-a-million. Supply and demand. Doing a lot with a little. Doing too much. One-in-eight-billion. Throw in robots, increased efficiency, a rising expectation of a rising standard of living. The world has changed. We are changing, even if we’re not fully conscious of it.

Did you expect this post to take this turn? I didn’t. But I expect such perspective shifts are going to continue happening, and the pace is going to accelerate. 

Hey, I was able to turn this into a personal finance post (which is appropriate because this is a personal finance blog based on my personal finances as described in my book about personal finance, Dream. Invest. Live. aka personal finance for frugal folk.)

Another reason for me to continue challenging the assumptions behind my financial planning, business planning, and even my job searches.

Some can see this as a shrinking of a human’s contribution. Some can see this as cherishing the increasing rarity of every life. And the romantics can be encouraged that finding that one person in a million is about 8,000 times more likely. (I’ll leave the effect of gender to personal curiosity and preference.)

And one last check…

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: https://trimbathcreative.net/about/ and at my amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA
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3 Responses to Population In Perspective

  1. Jason says:

    Interesting. I woke up this morning with the thought on auto repeat in my still dream laden mind that humanity is a 8 billion (+/-) qubit quantum computer programmed solely to optimize the human race. To what end? I dunno. -jgp

  2. ssmolinsky says:

    I love the way your thoughts wander and somehow pull it all together into a unified fun read and a thought provoking story.

  3. Smolinsky says:

    I love the way your mind wanders and somehow pulls it all together into a fun and thought provoking read.

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