life calculations.


February 16, 2011

Why do the young, who are risking more life, jaywalk more? Partly it is because the 5 minutes is worth more to them and partly it is because they don’t understand the odds. To the young only other people die.  I’ve lived long enough to know that bad things don’t always happen to other people so though I have less life to risk I’m much more careful.

Militaries understand this life calculation. It is important to convince the enemy that he cannot win and surrender will not be so bad. More men will die to win than will die for a lost cause. Also you don’t want to put the enemy army in the position of having nothing to lose because that will cause them to fight to the death. The Germans in WWII made the mistake of putting conquered peoples into a nothing to lose position which just stiffened resistance. The Americans won easily in Iraq in part because everyone knew that surrender to the Americans had little down side. Much of the vaunted revolutionary guard just went home. Resistance only stiffened when people realized that due to American politics they may be able to win.

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