2016-01-14

Fat Chance

Image courtesy LeahAshley.com
In my bid to win Feel-Good Facebook Post of the Year, I wrote:
I was born in the United States of America during the last half of the 20th Century. My parents were middle-class people who loved me and who taught me important life-lessons growing up. They made me do chores and they taught me to read and do arithmetic before kindergarten. They gave me encouragement as I pursued sports, arts, and academics, and most importantly they had enough financial means to ensure that I never had to go without while I was growing up, and well into my university years. Furthermore, I lived in a community that had an extremely low crime rate, in which I could walk a mile to school or ride my bike to the park and hang out alone for a few hours, all without having to worry about falling victim to something terrible. I have never experienced any natural disasters as long as I've lived. Every medical event I have ever experienced is treatable by modern medicine. I have never been in a war zone. 
By global standards, I have experienced the upside of odds quite a bit less-favorable than those of the Powerball Lottery. If you're reading this, then chances are, so have you. 
I just want to put that out there.
Gee, whiz! Touching, right? Unfortunately, I was wrong about the odds. David R. Henderson of EconLog pointed out that it is actually less likely to win the Powerball jackpot than it is to be one of the 220-some-million middle class Americans currently alive, compared to the estimated total number of human beings who have ever lived in any age at any socio-economic class.

I still think I'm a lucky guy, but I'm astounded by the remoteness of the possibility of winning a major lottery like Powerball. Next time you think about buying a ticket, remember that winning is actually less likely than your ever having been born in the first place.