“Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” How often that phrase has been quoted since Ben Franklin penned it in a letter to his friend, the French scientist Jean-Baptiste Leroy, in the midst of the French Revolution and in reference to the ratification of our Constitution just two years before in 1787.*
With apologies to a great American and a personal hero, I would amend Franklin’s axiom to “Nothing is certain except death and taxes, and that risk is always with us.”
It’s true that the risks of our cavemen ancestors, American minutemen and French intelligentsia caught in the days of the Mob are very different—each from the other, and also from those that we each face today. Even in the present world, which has grown so much smaller, the risks faced in each corner of it vary widely.