Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Be unafraid. Be very unafraid.

The recent issue of National Geographic had a one-page display of the odd of dying of various causes:

1 in 5 Heart disease
1 in 7 Cancer
1 in 24 Stroke
1 in 84 Motor Vehicle Accident
1 in 119 Suicide
1 in 218 Falling
1 in 314 Firearm assault
1 in 626 Pedestrian accident
1 in 1,008 Drowning
1 in 1,020 Motorcycle accident
1 in 1,113 Fire or smoke inhalation
1 in 4,919 Bicycling accident
1 in 5,051 Air/space accident
1 in 5,134 Accidental firearm discharge
1 in 9,968 Accidental electrocution
1 in 10,048 Alcohol poisoning
1 in 13,729 Hot weather
1 in 56,789 Hornet, wasp or bee sting
1 in 62,468 Legal execution
1 in 79,746 Lightning
1 in 117,127 Earthquake
1 in 144,156 Flood
1 in 340,733 Fireworks discharge

(these are numbers for US residents)

With all the hoopla over terrorism that's been going on, I was curious how concerned I should actually be about bombings, poison gas, snipers and the like. I found a Cato Institute article in Regulation Magazine that, while it didn't give the actual odds, stated the risk this way:

"Even with the September 11 attacks included in the count, the number of Americans killed by international terrorism since the late 1960s (when the State Department began counting) is about the same as the number of people killed by lightning, accident-causing deer or severe allergic reactions to peanuts."

Look at the numbers. Americans are more likely to be executed by their own government than they are to be killed by some foreign extremist. So, who are the terrorists here? And when our leaders stand at the podium and ask us to give up our constitutional rights, who should we be afraid of?

The answer is that we should fear our own government because they seem to be utilizing our un-substantiated fears to erode our rights and secure more power for themselves.

Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was telling a television audience that if terrorists were able to engineer a catastrophic event that killed 10,000 people, they would successfully "do away with our way of life."

The National Institute of Health says that 280,000 people a year die of complication caused by obesity. That doesn't seem to be doing away with our way of life.

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