Monday, January 29, 2018

Billions and billions

Image result for billions and billions cartoonWhen Carl Sagan told us that there are billions and billions of stars in the Universe he actually said, “There are in fact 100 billion galaxies, each of which contains something like 100 billion stars.” But regardless of how he said what we think he said the number of stars in the universe is unknown.  Not that anyone is really counting, not that anyone could count that high.  The point is that when 100 billion is multiplied by 100 billion it equals 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 1e+22 or somewhere close to a sextillion.  We may not know what it is but at least we have a name for it.

In real terms, terms that we may start to understand, “The highest numerical value banknote ever printed was a note for 1 sextillion pengő, printed in Hungary in 1946. In 2009, Zimbabwe printed a 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar note, which at the time of printing was worth about US $30.”  OK, so that was not a great example.  I for one cannot understand the reasons for runaway inflation to the extent of the currency being raised to the level of a billion times a billion.  Can you imagine buying a loaf of bread?

We all know that the number of billionaires is on rise and with this rise it seems, a widening between the very rich and the middle class.  This decline signals two events, the rise into greater wealth and the fall into the lower economic circles, duh, but the effects of losing the middle class is a loss of the inherent stability of any economy and a dedicated move toward slavery and a usurious faction of the wealthy and uber-rich.  It must be remembered that the health of any economy is directly tied to the health of those that spend the most, the middle class.  Henry Ford understood this concept, “that’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough, so they could buy the cars they made.” Henry Ford became extremely wealthy by understanding the needs of the middle class.

President Obama alluded to this when he argued that inequality distorts our democracy by giving. “an outsized voice to the few who can afford high priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions”.  makes you wonder what was motivating him at the time?

This governmental attitude of favoritism destroys the very fabric of a society that thrives on the goodwill, the continuity, and availability of products and services.  But what does all this have to do with the billions and billions of stars?

It’s called a perspective.  When we look up into the night sky, on a clear night, away from the bright lights of a city, you see the stars.  You rarely count the stars, there are too many to count.  But have you ever thought that there are a finite number of stars?  We may not be able to comprehend that number or the ever-changing number of stars from one moment to the next but at any given time there is a specific number of stars.  Just like the billionaire who is unable to know exactly what he’s worth at any given time, he must rely upon the knowledge that at some time in the future he might know what he’s worth…at least in money.

The less you have the more defined your ability to understand your net worth.  Start with zero, that’s the easy one but how do we gauge our worth, who determines what is worth what and what has value?  Is it only in terms of money or are there other factors at play to help us determine our worth in life? 

From billions and billions of stars in the sky to the statistical understanding of life on other planets we start to get a gist of our importance, or lack of, depending on your perspective.  Are we alone in this universe?  Are there other populated planets that are asking similar questions?  How many possible planets are there? 

Statistically, if we multiply the number of possible stars in just our Universe by anything greater than zero we have the statistical probability of greater than zero.  How many habitable planets would you say exist in our Universe?   Let’s take a very low number .0000000001 multiplied by the number of stars, in our universe, 1 sextillion or 1 and 18 zeros, remove 9 of the zeros and you have 1,000,000,000, 1 billion possible habitable planets…OK, I understand this is purely a game of speculation and guesswork but so is most of what we do when we start to think about the enormity of what we must deal with when we start down the path of statistical improbability.

What is not improbable is the loss of our middle class and the effects those losses will have on our economy, our future and the political landscape that’s regulated by those in the middle.  Regardless of political persuasion, the middle class has always maintained an even keel during the rough waters of those who like to make waves, just so they can ride the controversies and profit from the storms they like to start.

It is the middle class that softens the extremes of the revolutionaries and makes possible the visionaries, like Henry Ford, like Bill Gates and a thousand others that rely upon the buying power of those in the middle.

Our solar system is somewhere on the fringes of something called the Virgo Cluster, sounds like a candy bar.  Our Galaxy and our universe are not unique, even with respect to life.  Statistically and probability tells us that we are not alone, but the question is where do we, humans, from Earth, fit in the larger picture that is?  My guess, not worth much I know but for the sake of writing a few sentences more, my guess is that we’re part of a massive middle class and because of us and the millions of others (planets) like us the economies of the Universe, the governments, the bureaucracies, the factories of the Suns and planets continue to move and work.  They are here because of us not the other way around, just like our government and all governments should exist, to help the people thrive and enjoy life.

The middle class is where most of us live, most of us work and eventually die but only after we have enjoyed and learned from this life, hopefully moving to a different kind of life somewhere amidst the billions and billions of stars.