When the judge asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, he famously answered, "because that's where the money is". But now it's the banks and hedge funds that rob us: median household wealth declined by $5K from 2001 to 2011 (see here) but the banks etc got bailed out and are now doing better than ever. Most financial profits are reaped by a variety of legal scams, and some not so legal. The dividing line is fuzzy, and I suspect that the closer you are to the borderline, the more money can be made (like sailing close to the wind). What's puzzling is why in a democracy the financial/legal system is rigged. The best explanation seems to be that we are not really a democracy, but a plutocracy, as we always were, except for a brief period after the great depression. This is why I refer to the Wall Street Mafia, which shades imperceptibly into the top echelons of big business. In the end it boils down to the fact that in a stable economy the only way to make money is to take it from other, weaker, people. This is not true in a growing economy, but as we are beginning to realize unlimited growth isn't possible, or desireable.
The ruby-throat population is rather stable (with minor year-to-year fluctuations). Since each bird produces around 1 additional bird on average per year, it must be the case that half the population dies each year, giving an average lifespan of 1 year (I'm using a simplified statistical model). However some skilled birds (all females) make it to at least 11 years. I suspect that the main cause of death is the perilous migration - especially crossing the Gulf of Mexico. We come, via the Wall Street Mafia, full circle.
Lloyd Blankfein, doing God's work