We Have Nothing to Fear… but Fear Ourselves

OK. The title is a slight exaggeration but I thought this play on FDR’s words was catchy. This post is about our current efforts to ensure that foreign terrorists don’t slip in to our country and repeat 9/11/2001 or worse.

Is foreign terrorism our greatest threat?

The likelihood of being killed by a terrorist is .00003%. I’m not really good at statistics but I do know that is pretty darned low. I’m certain you’ve all heard that the number of previous terrorists from the countries on President Trump’s current immigration ban is … zero, nor have any people admitted to the U.S. as refugees ever engaged in acts of terrorism. Although terrorists have attacked our citizens since 9/11 causing the deaths of about thirty Americans, these attacks were perpetrated by people already in the U.S. (some of whom were citizens) who became radicalized.

I know the counter argument: More Americans have not been killed by terrorists because of the U.S. government’s vigilance. This is certainly true, at least according to Wikipedia. The diligent work of the FBI, CIA, and other intelligence gathering and law enforcement agencies has certainly saved many lives. Still…is this our greatest threat?

I’m sure you will expect me to compare the number of American deaths by terrorists to the number killed by gun violence, and since I don’t want to disappoint my loyal readers I’ll mention it briefly. In the first three months of 2017 alone 3,514 Americans died from gun violence. Of these, 140 were children under the age of twelve and 718 were between 12 and 18 years of age.  So in the first quarter of 2017 about as many of our fellow citizens died from gun violence as died from terrorism in the last 20 years. About  440,095 people died because of firearms from 2001 through 2014.  By comparison, approximately 400,000 Americans died defeating Germany and the Axis powers in World War II. I’m a gun owner who enjoys target shooting, but I believe we need sensible restrictions on gun ownership (the topic of a future post).

Here are some other ways we kill each other:

  • Someone is killed every 53 minutes and more than 9,000 die each year because of drunk drivers. Our laws on impaired driving do not work.
  • Since 1964 about 2,500,000 non-smokers have died from exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • In 2013 researchers at MIT calculated that 200,000 Americans die from air pollution each year. About 53,000 of those are from auto pollution and 52,000 result from power generation. Industrial smokestacks, railroads, heating and cooling systems, and other factors also play a role.
  • The CDC estimates that more than 3,000 of us die annually from foodborne illnesses.
  • In 2015 4,317 workers were accidentally killed on the job.
  • Parents murder their own children about 450 times each year.
  • More than 700 Americans are killed annually by drivers running red lights.
  • By some estimates more than 400,000 Americans die each year because of a preventable medical error. These include overmedication, infections, unnecessary procedures, and more.
  • More than 40,000 die each year from accidental poisoning.
  • Coal miners die from black lung disease, people die because their water supplies are tainted by chemical spills, a number die for lack of health care or insurance, and more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed each year.

I’ll stop adding to this morbid list, but I think you get the point. Do we need to be protected from foreign terrorists? Absolutely! Our government’s primary responsibility is ensuring our safety.

I just wonder why we think foreign terrorists are our greatest threat when statistical data say otherwise. Most of the deaths from the causes listed above could be significantly reduced if we showed the same resolve as with our current attempts to protect us from terrorists, and in my mind that threat is much lower than other perils we face daily.

PS: I apologize for the infrequent and short posts recently; life became sort of hectic. Thanks for your understanding.

7 thoughts on “We Have Nothing to Fear… but Fear Ourselves

  1. Excellent read. Unfortunately, it is much easier to demonize, categorize, and condemn than to do the very hard work of education, compromise, legislation, and yes, regulation that is necessary to change these statistics. These numbers will not improve if we follow the current administration’s tendency to reduce regulation at every turn. It may be a “burden” on the business bottom line for the rest of us to have clean air and water, safe food, and safe workplaces. History shows us, however, that we can’t just trust corporations to do what is right for the environment and human health out of the goodness of their hearts (corporations are people, right? they have hearts?). No regulations means that oligarchy, kleptocracy, and plutocracy reign and the health and well-being of the average citizen is last on the list. (Hey, there’s another post! The Oligarchy, Kleptocracy, and Plutocracy Blues!)

  2. Doc- don’t you think ending the Petro Dollar exchange program with Opec would go a long way towards ending terrorism.

    If the United States would stop trying to protect this weakening oil monetary monopoly and re-invest in alternative sources of fuel it is my opinion that America would find itself a lot “safer”.

    Each time the U.S. has played puppet master to protect that oil monopoly in the Middle East it has cost the United States and cost it dearly.

    That said since Nixon took us off the gold standard in 1972 the Opec Petro dollar exchange has been the ONLY thing keeping the United States 70 percent debt based economy a float.

    • You’ve touched on a topic with which I’m only marginally familiar (and there are a bunch of such topics!). I do know that a large portion of America’s economy is tied to energy prices. I also know there have been rumblings among some nations and threats to move OPEC’s exchange currency to the Euro. My understanding is that such moves would be devastating to us. I had really poor economics instructors in college, so I’m afraid to speculate further. Feel free to fill in some blanks for me!

      • In 1971 the Unites States Federal Reserve had loaned out more money than it had gold to back.

        To correct this and to prevent an economic melt down President Nixon takes the United States off of the gold standard and replaces it with what is known as the Petro Dollar Exchange program.

        The United States dollar was still the world currency and the United States convinced major OPEC countries to create an oil monopoly by mandating that all oil sales must use the dollar.

        This ensured the dollar’s strength at a time when there was nothing else backing it and it has allowed the United States to run a seventy percent debt based economy for the better half of the last forty years.

        This deal went unchecked until 1999 when Saddam Hussein announced that Iraq would be switching from the OPEC system of using the American dollar to the Euro. Hussein successfully switched that monetary system of oil exchange in the fall of 1999.

        At the same time a Conservative Think Tank PNAC wrote the “Project for a New American Century” which stated that America needed to present a stronger military leadership role in the Middle East to protect American assets. The conclusion of the report was that the only way that would be feasible to gain citizen support was if the United States was faced with a “Pearl Harbor” type event….a year and a half later we had 9-11.

        The United States then invades Iraq under the false pretense of protecting citizens from Weapons of Mass Destruction when in reality the goal was to switch Iraq’s monetary system of oil trade from the Euro back to the dollar.

        Iraq had threatened the stability of the OPEC petro dollar exchange monopoly by introducing a viable second option on the free market…and they had started to become very wealthy doing so.

        This is the reason the United States sent the Army to protect the oil fields as it’s first mission. The goal was to protect the oil assets and then transfer the economic system from the Euro back to the dollar.

        President Bush even went as far as to claim “Mission Accomplished” after the United States had successfully switched the Iraq oil system back to the dollar from the Euro.

        Our current issues steam from the OPEC deal as well.

        In 2015 Syria, Iran, and Russia agree to run a joint oil pipeline from Iran through Syria with the intent of then moving the oil to Russia’s newly annexed sea port in the Ukraine.

        Funny enough the Ukraine annexation, the Syrian Revolution, and the Iran and Russia sanctions all begin at this point.

        The reasons…

        IF Iran and Syria are successful in completing said pipeline and if Russia has free access to both the Ukrainian and Syrian sea ports then those three countries could create open competition to the PETRO dollar exchange thus ending the oil monopoly and directly threatening the dollar and the United States economy.

        This is the reason why you see an American backed uprising in Syria, the sanctions raised against Iran, and Russia.

        This is also why you saw Hillary Clinton calling for a “no fly zone” in Syria even though every U.S. military adviser warned that would get us into World War 3.

        If we have a “no fly zone” in Syria and are “provoked” then it would give the U.S. justifiable reasoning to bring military action thus stalling and possibly killing the intended Syrian, Iran, Russia pipeline deal.

        This is also the reason you saw Russian intervention in the latest U.S. presidential election. Putin had hopes of keeping Clinton out of the way and had a promise from Trump to avoid action in the Ukraine and Syria.








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