Thursday, August 14, 2008

Has the threat that our entire nation will be destroyed passed yet?

Someone like John McCain would probably tell you "No."

Atrios today notes the statistic that "41,059 people were killed in highway crashes" last year.

On the one hand, it's 41,059 each year. But on the other hand, how many people in America ride in cars each year? 299 million?

Also, I'd like to see the number after it is corrected for certain risk factors, like driving after 10 o'clock on a Friday or Saturday night (when a lot of intoxicated drivers are out), driving for 8-10 hours without a break, driving while intoxicated yourself, etc. My guess is that the number of people who die in car accidents that don't involve any risky driving, but instead only morning and afternoon work commutes, weekend trips to the mall, and picking kids up from or driving kids to sports practice and to see friends, is much, much smaller.

Anyway, it certainly puts into perspective those less-than 3,000 deaths due to a small gang of thugs that the Republicans, as a sound bite, began to say showed that our whole country was at threat of being destroyed by Al Qaeda.

Yeah, Al Qaeda could have threatened the future of our society-- if we responded to 9/11 by (1) disbanding the FBI, all our national security and intelligence agencies, all our military intelligence units, all our airport security and border security, (2) armed Al Qaeda, and (3) then invited Al Qaeda to recruit a bunch of Muslims and come over here and invade our country. Then Al Qaeda would have been a threat to our existence. But considering Al Qaeda's actual characteristics and capabilities in 2001 (and considering ours), Al Qaeda wasn't such a threat-- Al Qaeda was just a bunch of terrorists we had to pick up and put in prisons. It's not as if we're a nation like Israel, that is something like 30% or 40% Arab, and has Palestinian rebels bombing people sometimes every week or two for months.

But let's get back to what that number means for us besides what it says about Republican lies. Consider that a lot of people in America used to die from diseases that are now treatable, like childbed fever. A lot of women used to get burned to death because cooking was done at big hearths/fireplaces, and women were forced by societal conventions to wear big, flammable dresses with long trailing skirts that covered their whole bodies and were made of a lot of material. A lot of factory workers used to die because of accidents before liberals and unions won laws that protected the workers better.

But none of the things that caused all those deaths were as necessary as transporting yourself in a car is nowadays. Dying or being injured is actually a fact of life. Deaths that are the bigger tragedy than these autmobile deaths are those that come from something like a war that was chosen by a specific President and that could have been easily avoided.

All that said and done, if you can squeeze in riding a bike or walking into your routine somehow when you would otherwise have taken a car, it may be a good thing for you, for our country, and for our planet-- but unless you were typically making that trip by car under the influence of some risk factors like those I mentioned above, doing this is probably not going to save your life.