Jan

30

The force of mortality is how your probability of death increases as you age. Actuaries often deal with the first differential equation of the probability of death as you age.

Within your first years, about ten, your probability of death decreases and then it starts increasing in your teens. After about your mid 20's, your probability of death increases more slowly, but at a nearly constant rate. This compounding of decay starts taking a visible toll in probabilities near the latter 50's, forming a curve. Then by the 70's, there is a steep, almost linear slope continuing on into the 80's … Well your chances of making it past the 80's are slim.

Reading between the lines, you can see all the sad causes of ruin: the developing stage that tragically never makes it to maturity, the high flying youth with a secret death wish, the one in a million lighting strike from being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and finally the simple decay of age. Surely the speculator could sympathize and learn from studying this force.

This force of mortality fits closely to a cubic equation of age. The coefficient of the cubic term (the constant multiplied by age to the third power) is small and does not reveal itself until age to the third power is large. The square term never really affects the outcome much, leaving the curve level through most of the early adult years. The turbulence of youth is captured by the constant and first term.

It would seem reasonable that much of the wisdom, anxiety and even depression that often accompany old age stems from the understanding that only comes from life experience and first hand observation of this function of ruin. Once you comprehend the importance of this ruin function, you can see its effects and influences in major issues of human life, the individual, companies and governments, which are the three major forces of the economy.

Such a function with time's effect can drive small flaws or weaknesses into a major chance of total ruin. This insight alone tends to cause paranoia, anxiety and depression, seeing many likewise aged friends succumbing to this force.

However, perhaps the wisdom is drawn from the insight of the myriad of ways nature handles these ruinous forces. The individual spirit does not accept that he is ill conceived. Millions make the self sacrifice to feed, cloth and shelter their families and give them that extra something that lets them know they are special. They live with integrity and pass on, letting others know it's ok that they take over, and that our spirit will have meaning as long as those we love thrive.

The company, government or individual that allows itself to be reinvented periodically can continue a long line.

The question is what are the signs of a company handling the hand-off to the next generation successfully?

Such are the thoughts of a two hour Sunday morning run.


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