why “normal” is meaningless and “moderate” means everything…

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Warning: this is an unedited stream of consciousness post – there are many loose ends

So I’m sure we’ve all noticed it’s a little damp today… and yesterday… and the day before that… and the day before that too. We needed the rain, I know, but this is another classic case of “enough already!”

The shift from drought to plenty has made me think about the extremes we run into every day. We say we want “normalcy” but I understand statistics well enough to know that what we describe as “normal” (and consequently expect) doesn’t really exist – it’s typically little more than the average middle point between extremes:

  • An erratic golfer could post nine eagles and nine double-bogies on a round. Par on any given hole is then the most predicable outcome but also the least likely.
  • For April 24, Wake Forest’s normal high temperature is in the low 70’s. But in 1960 it reached 93, and the low stands at 31 (1986). Yesterday it rained all day with a high of 57.

The average annual temperature here is a close to perfect 62.65-degrees, so why would we ever need heat or air-conditioning? But of course we run one or the other every single month.

Moderate is better than average:

IMG_9233The point of heating and air-conditioning is moderation. We can’t really live with average, what we want is moderation. We want to moderate the temperatures because that’s how we’re more comfortable. And we’re all fine with having to pay for that level of comfort.

  • We’ll pay to moderate temperature (our new HVAC system is a great example);
  • we’ll pay to moderate our water supply (storage in reservoirs to hedge against drought);
  • We understand we need both rain and sunshine for plants to grow;
  • we happily pay into retirement and social security plans to moderate income so we’re not destitute when we turn 70;
  • and we pay to moderate risk when we drive (rather than save a few dollars a month and then be on the hook for tens of thousands in an auto accident)….

Yet we seem unable or unwilling to pay anything at all when it comes to moderating our political climate?

Most Americans want moderate leadership, where politicians are willing to compromise for the benefit of the nation. But being politically active tends to force candidates to highlight their differences, and people with extreme views are more likely to vote. In consequence, we are governed by men and women who feel obligated to play to their politically active base and the country is held hostage to polarization, even though 90% of us don’t want it.

Nobody is always right!

IMG_9234So why won’t we compromise? Why aren’t we willing to pay (and by “pay” I mean balance, cooperate, trade-off, give and take, quid pro quo) in order to guarantee a tolerable “normal” for everyone in America?

Take medical care, for example. I’m very healthy, and over the past thirty-five years my insurance company has made literally tens of thousands in profits because all my body parts are still working fairly well; I understand that’s extreme – it makes me an outlier. At the other end is someone who has gone through several major surgeries, struggles to stay healthy, and also deals with a chronic disease. They are another outlier – someone who fiscally puts medical insurance profits in the hole.

Do I begrudge the medically challenged individual the money I could have saved if I wasn’t in the program? Not at all; not if I am intelligent! Resentment would be ludicrous. There is no moderation without the extremes; and there is no normal without people on the statistical margins.

When it comes to medical cost, the average American simply does not exist. This is why the only way to provide any kind of moderation for any one of us is to put one hundred percent of our population in the same risk pool. The alternative is much the same as removing the new HVAC system from my house and hoping we’ll be comfortable. But we wouldn’t be comfortable for a minute; we’d be anxious, stressed, irritable, immoderate, and unproductive probably 90% of the time.

Unwillingness to compromise isn’t just impractical, it’s un-American:

  • Our amazing Constitution wasn’t framed because people stood their ground! No, it was perfected via epic compromise.
  • This nation hasn’t endured because those who were so right refused to give an inch! Not on your life, it has endured because those who are smart have understood how arrogant, unsound, incorrect, imprecise, and mistaken we are when we insist everyone else is wrong.

Okay, so I watched it rain for three days, then these eight hundred words spilled out!

Bloggers! They’re so wordy! What are you going to do?

(everything is saturated around here)

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