Letters to the editor

Gaming control

I read with interest the article about gambling on page 5 of your March 24 newspaper. If more casinos were brought into Florida, I would definitely expect there to be a gaming control board for all casinos in Florida. I would not vote for one under any other conditions.

If there is one now, it must be keeping a low profile.

Jean Stirrat


Systemic contraction

In 2007, Nassim Taleb wrote "The Black Swan." Black swans did not exist in Europe, Asia or Africa. Therefore it was assumed black swans did not exist. The term black swan was derived from a Latin phrase used to refer to the impossibility of an event. Then, to the surprise of the ancients, black swans were discovered in Australia. Taleb used this analogy to point out our natural tendency to assume that tomorrow will be just like today.

In his book, he asked us to consider the life of the American turkey. The turkey hatched out and grew up in an environment where his day-to-day experiences taught him that the soul purpose for the existence of human beings was to serve his every need. Nothing in that experience prepared the turkey for Thanksgiving Day.

Our own condition is not unlike that of the turkey. We have come to expect that tomorrow will be just like today. We have good reason to believe this. Since the 1500s and the age of exploration, the world has experienced exponential growth in almost every field of human endeavor. The last two centuries have witnessed an unparalleled explosion in growth. Based on this long period of past experience, it is normal for us to expect this linear trend will continue.

Having said that, consider this: In 2003, gasoline retailers in the United States sold on average 63,394.5 thousand gallons of gasoline each day in December. In 2013, gasoline retail sales averaged 18,630.2 thousand gallons per day for December. We are now consuming about one-third of the gasoline we consumed just 10 years ago.

This contraction in gasoline sales over the last decade mirrors an overall contraction in the economy. This is a black swan event that flies in the face of our paradigm of perpetual growth. If this trend of contraction continues, it threatens the economic viability of our state and local governments.

Perhaps it is time that we begin a discussion about the consequences of an ongoing systemic contraction and how that might affect our county's energy and food security.

Darrell E. Cloud