Black swan sighted in Greene County, Ohio?
Before we begin a three-part series on former Congressman Dave Hobson’s extracurricular real estate activities, OCGJ will pause to assess our blog and website three months after going live on January 1st. Some folks who read this post will understand the “Black Swan” metaphor, but others may go here to help them reach a better understanding of the relationship between Ohio Citizens Grand Jury and Taleb’s “Black Swan” event.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” in 2007. Taleb writes, “History is opaque. You see what comes out, not the script that produces events, the generator of history.” The 2003 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Initiative Agreement between Greene County government and the Dayton Development Coalition stands out as a profound example of an event where we saw what came out, but not the ugly script that got us there. On the surface the political class, with help from the media, promoted the BRAC as wildly successful for Wright Patterson AFB and the region. We can’t deny that compared to some other regions, the Dayton area had a significant net gain. However, the reality is there is no basis in fact to verify the Dayton Development Coalition was even minimally responsible. Worse yet, what we don’t see are the millions in public money that was laundered from the citizens to the political class. So why is it worth examining if OCGJ may be a Black Swan event?
According to Taleb, a Black Swan event has three characteristics. First, it is a surprise that doesn’t come close to fitting the norm…..statisticians call it an “outlier,” and immediately discard it as an irrelevant anomaly. OCGJ is certainly a surprise to both the citizen and political classes. Who would have thought that a grumpy old veteran would openly accuse Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine of being part of a conspiracy that breached the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act?
Second, a true Black Swan event has a major impact. At the extreme, 9/11, a large asteroid colliding with earth and the stock market crash of 2008 were Black Swan events…..impossible to predict, yet they carried a huge impact on the planet for decades or even millenniums to come. But fear not, Black Swan events can be positive as well. Consider unimagined advances in medicine, aerospace and computer technology to name a few.
Finally, Black Swan events are incorrectly rationalized after the fact, which is especially true when the political class tries to explain away their failures or take credit for positive Black Swan events they had nothing to do with.
Of course after only three months it’s too early to say whether or not OCGJ qualifies as a Black Swan event, but at least we can be sure we now have the attention of the political class. It is said that Gandhi once noted the response of the political class to non-violent dissent as “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they attack you and then you win.” If he was right, let’s hope the attack on OCGJ begins more sooner than later.