Saturday, 20 August 2011

Meditation on Pareto's 80-20 Power Rule

I find the "80-20" power law an interesting, odd concept. It reflects a range of unexpected ratios such as:  20% of the world rich own 80% of the world's resources. It was an Italian, Vilfredo Pareto, who first noticed this in Italy, but he later proved it to be true elsewhere.

20% of customers provides 80% of the income of companies. The same 20%, or more probably another 20%, provide 80% of complaints. This also applies to natural phenomenon, such as earthquakes:  20% of earthquakes create 80% of the total destruction caused by earthquakes. Then, 20% of the pea pods in one's garden provide 80% of the peas.

Many of my readers will belong to 20% of the world's population who own 80% of its wealth. But many will not be among the top 20% who own 80% of their own country's wealth. Actress and columnist, Joan Collins, has today called rich (US and UK) men "controlling and mean". She must have known quite a number of them.

Jesus Christ expressed an observation infinitely more spiritual, wise and profound about the negative effects of wealth and power:

"What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul?"

Perhaps another "80-20 love law" exists that reverses the "80/20 power law"?  In other words, does a fraction of the bottom 20% of people in terms of income, in either a country, or in the world, supply 80% of a country's, or the world's, faith, love and care?

The 80-20 power law is nicknamed the law of "the vital few".  Surely in God's Kingdom, these I have just described above are the real "vital few"....

I recall Bishop J C Ryle writing about true believers who were, in his view, "the lifeblood" of their communities and nations.

There may be only one believer in this village and another in that town but in their hands are the destinies of nations (through prayer, as well as action).  They were for him the true, "vital few".

 See here for more about Pareto's 80-20 rule.

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