How safe are we, really?

The Christmas Day attempt to destroy an airplane failed, thankfully. That effort, however, did yield some things. The TSA immediately ramped up security theatre. People began to plot attacks on Yemen, where the plan is said to have been hatched. Freedoms were curtailed as never before, as TSA agents showed up in the homes of bloggers who dared to share the government’s (ridiculous) plans. And for what? Is the panic justified? That’s just what Nate Silver (of fivethirtyeight.com) and Jesus Diaz (of gizmodo.com) decided to show us. It turns out, as I’ve been saying, this is much ado about not much. Here’s the skinny, in one delicious infographic.

As I keep saying, if we want to save American lives, here are some better ways to spend our energy than pointless hand-wringing and senseless wars:

  • Ensure adequate health care for all Americans.
  • Get Americans to eat better and exercise more so there’s less obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Limit SUVs on the road.
  • End tobacco subsidies and tax smoking products at steeper rates.
  • Adjust agriculture subsidies so that healthy foods are encouraged and unhealthy foods (think corn starch) are discouraged.

Any of those things will save more lives than we’ve lost (or are likely to lose) to terrorists. Mind you, I’m not saying we don’t need security or that we shouldn’t seek to punish those who seek to harm others. But our response should be in proportion to the danger, rather than to our irrational (even if understandable) fear.

Graphic from gizmodo.

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1 Response

  1. Ethan Gafford says:

    Indeed; until cigarettes are banned completely, I really don’t want to hear it from airline security. (One can make an argument for personal freedom there, which is lacking in a terrorist attack, but once you’ve seen fully-educated COPD sufferers continuing to smoke, that argument wears pretty thin. Not to mention second-hand smoke.)

    In other news, I’m surprised the infographic you showed didn’t compare the danger to automobile travel, which is approx. 3.7 skazillion times more likely to kill you. I suppose the bureau of transportation statistics might report on that too, though, and not want to anger folks on that side of the fence.