When US president Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest in 1912, he was saved by the luck of having a folded fifty-page speech in his breast pocket. Two years later, World War I was sparked after Franz Ferdinand’s motorcade took a wrong turn onto a narrow street, putting his car into the path of an assassin. John Howard and Gough Whitlam narrowly missed out being elected to state seats – a ‘misfortune’ that left them able to run for safer federal seats.
In this talk, Andrew Leigh will argue that recognising the importance of luck can profoundly alter the way in which all of us think about politics, and about life. Just as a good health system guards against the bad luck of sickness, and a good unemployment system protects against the bad luck of job loss, so too we need a politics that recognises the role of chance. Luck should make us less inclined to revere the successful and revile the unsuccessful. Putting luck into politics may even let the unlucky have a second chance.