Sunday, May 24, 2015

Small Change

"The more things change, the more they remain the same." How many times have you heard, read or said that? In English or the original French or any other language, the meaning is the same: we think we are progressing or changing but, in reality progress is simply seeing the same thing through a new viewfinder.

Oh, I don’t mean that we have advanced no further than learning to walk upright, but as for standing on our own two legs, well that’s not much to remark on in terms of progress.

Some days we think we have traveled a road to the end only to discover that it is really a circle and we are right back where we started. It becomes even more obvious with the return of the political season. The only real difference I see is that the pre-presidential yammering is starting earlier, with less hope for change clinking with every nickle that is dropped into some candidate’s pocket. It is not a positive time.

One thing that does seem to have changed is the value of the numbers themselves. When I learned about averages and percentages, and means and so on, a significant difference was in the neighborhood of 25%. Now I read poll results that are supposed to be very sophisticated and accurate when the difference is 2%. How can that be? I understand that there are lots more heads to count today, but the idea that one or two percent of them can predict accurately the outcome of an election, or the popularity of an idea or the justice of a law is, in my mind, simply serendipity at work. Just look at the recent parliamentary elections in England. Even the winners were surprised.

What this tells me is that I have to be very skeptical about promises made versus promises kept. If politicians can rely on results showing an advantage of one or two percent, it is no wonder that the one-percent have the advantage. It would be nice once-in-awhile to see politicians respond to the 99%, not the 1%.

Are we just small change?

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