About ten years ago I learned to ride a motorbike – some fifteen years or so after learning to drive a car. It was a good reminder of some key lessons, that stuck all the better for being in a slightly different context. When you’ve already seen a lot go wrong on the highways, safety tips for a rider really strike home! One maxim stood out clearly:
Only a fool breaks the two second rule.
It’s a simple premise – you maintain a buffer (of time, in this case) that gives you opportunity to respond well to events. It’s true for moving vehicles and it’s true for life in general. The coronavirus pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of spare capacity. An efficient economy with no slack is not as effective as it needs to be in a crisis1. Households with everything but savings, don’t have two seconds to respond well2.
A government’s duty (in my view) is to increase the size of the envelope – especially for the disadvantaged and embattled. If we want a life that’s resilient, we need to stay inside the envelope. Pushing at the edges (or living outside them) means we need others to pick us up when we fall. Some of us must do this – it’s how human’s progress in leaps and bound.
Let’s make a conscious choice about where want to be.
1 It’s dated, but this is an easy read on efficiency vs effectiveness.
2 I’m not gloating. I have no savings, although I’m working on it.
(Photo by Norbert Kundrak on Unsplash)