Nothing to fear but government itself

According to Wired, you are more likely to die from law enforcement than from terrorism. As a matter of fact, you’re 80 times as likely to die driving off the road — but hopefully not in this auto-erotic manner.

Here’s their assessment:

Sept. 11, 2001 was undoubtedly one of the darkest and deadliest days in United States history. Al-Qaida’s attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center killed 2,976 people, and the country recoiled in horror as we witnessed the death of thousands of Americans when the towers fell.

In the five years since that shattering day, the government has spent billions on anti-terrorism projects, instituted a color-coded alert system that has never been green, banned fingernail clippers and water bottles from airplanes, launched a pre-emptive war on false pretenses, and advised citizens to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting.

But despite the never-ending litany of warnings and endless stories of half-baked plots foiled, how likely are you, statistically speaking, to die from a terrorist attack?

Comparing official mortality data with the number of Americans who have been killed inside the United States by terrorism since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma reveals that scores of threats are far more likely to kill an American than any terrorist — at least, statistically speaking.

In fact, your appendix is more likely to kill you than al-Qaida is.

Perhaps they could allow us to take common items on airplanes (which don’t even rank on the chart) again and restore our emphasis from “law enforcement” to “protect and serve.”

S E V E R E
Driving off the road: 254,419
Falling: 146,542
Accidental poisoning: 140,327

H I G H
Dying from work: 59,730
Walking down the street: 52,000.
Accidentally drowning: 38,302

E L E V A T E D
Killed by the flu: 19,415
Dying from a hernia: 16,742

G U A R D E D
Accidental firing of a gun: 8,536
Electrocution: 5,171

L O W
Being shot by law enforcement: 3,949
Terrorism: 3147
Carbon monoxide in products: 1,554

Chart courtesy of Wired.

posted by Stephen Gordon
  • Julian

    Stephen Gordon

    What do you propose as the answer?

  • Stephen VanDyke

    Hand out bats on the damn planes!

  • Stephen VanDyke

    I’m actually not being facetious here, I really do endorse that. I’m sure the “purist” libertarian position is to let everyone bring a gun on the plane, but honestly I think the only people who would need one would be the pilots.

  • Sandra Kallander

    “BATS ON A PLANE”

    I can see the theatre poster, now.

    ______________________

    Seriously, the first thing you need to know in any hostage situation is whether or not your captor(s) are suicidal. Even a gun won’t work if they’re wired to blow and have a switch in their hand.

  • Wes P

    Bush’s government has killed more people fighting the “war on terrorism” than terrorists would likely have killed in those same years, given the level of security we already had in place.

    Bonus: We’re hundreds of billions more in debt and hundreds of millions more hate us.

  • Torfinn

    I think Julian quite simply he is suggesting law enforcement officers shouldn’t kill more people than terrorists.

    I could be wrong, but that’s what I’m seeing.

    I for one am all for the up and coming war on law enforcement.

    Hahahaha

  • http://www.tom-hanna.org Tom Hanna

    Most of the items on your list are none of government’s damn business. In fact, there isn’t one item on the list other than terrorism that is the legitimate province of government. Protecting the lives of citizens from purposeful acts of violence is, however, the very reason we have one.

    I agree that terrorism is not such a threat that we should be scared by it. On the other hand, it is entirely appropriate that we be pissed off by it.

    Bats on a plane is a great idea.

  • DAP

    All of these deaths are unavoidable (excluding being shot by law enforcement, perhaps). The reason why so much emphasis is put on terrorism, and rightfully so, is because the Islamofascist terrorists hate us for our freedom. Despite what some libertarians will have you think, terrorists will tell you themselves that they hate the west for our secularism. The definition of the word ”˜Islam’ even means ‘submission,’ and the goal of the terrorists is to submit us to radical Islam, and all the totalitarian elements that go along with it.

    Bush is a horrible president, but I agree with one statement he made today, namely that the war on terror is ‘the calling of our generation.’ It is unfortunate that Bush manages this war so poorly (ie, Iraq), but nonetheless the war on terror is a noble cause.
    (cont…)

  • DAP

    (cont…)
    The point that I want to make is this: I feel many on this forum are so anti-Bush that they forget to put him in perspective with the Islamic fascists that want to kill us. I understand that Bush is among our worst presidents ever, and he has brought America further from freedom rather than closer and so it is easy to get cynical. Nevertheless, President Bush is the Commander in Chief of one of the freest countries in the world in its war against Islamic fascism. Israel’s Olmert and Britain’s Blair also lead their respective troops against these fascists and terrorists.

    **It is crucial that we libertarians remember that despite all their shortcomings, Bush, Olmert, Blair, and the leaders of other free westernized nations are on the right side on the war on terror.**

    Killing terrorists is the goal. So if nothing else, I give credit to Bush for killing or otherwise neutralizing 5,000 terrorists since 9/11 (NYT).

  • Matt

    “I’m sure the ‘purist’ libertarian position is to let everyone bring a gun on the plane, but honestly I think the only people who would need one would be the pilots.”

    I would think the purist position would be that airlines make the final call on how or with what a passenger may board their planes.

  • disinter

    Matt – I agree.

  • disinter

    The reason why so much emphasis is put on terrorism, and rightfully so, is because the Islamofascist terrorists hate us for our freedom.

    Then why aren’t they terrorizing Estonia?

    Killing terrorists is the goal.

    Okay, then why hasn’t Bush been killed?

  • Tom Bryant

    How can you win a war on a method of violence?

    Terrorism is used by the United States. Do we have to fight ourselves to rid the world of terrorism?

    Why can’t we identify who are enemies are, instead of defining it based on a type of violence employed by everyone.

  • DAP

    “[If terrorists hate us for our freedom], then why aren’t they terrorizing Estonia?”

    For many obvious reasons:
    1. Estonia is not a threat to the terrorists aspirations of worldwide Islamofascism; they have only 5,120 soldiers
    2. Estonia, while freer than the US, represents only 1 million ‘infidels,’ while the US represents 300 million
    3. The United States economy is the largest proponent of globalization, which infuriates totalitarians of all flavors
    4. The United States supports free, westernized countries like Israel who have an active role in fighting terrorism.
    5. For many other obvious reasons

    “[If killing terrorists is the goal], why hasn’t Bush been killed?”

    Mike, I think you’re off your meds again.

  • disinter

    DAP,

    Then they don’t hate us for “our freedoms” then, do they? Hello!

  • Zander C

    They’ve never hated us for our freedoms. They couldn’t care less about our freedoms. That’s been one of the “Great Lies” perpetrated by this administration (and will be in future administrations). The “Terrorists” hate us for our policies. They hate us for our meddling in the internal politics of THEIR countries. I dare say that if other nations were as active in our national politics as we are in the politics of many of the other nations of the world, we’d be just as radicalized.

  • paulie

    According to Wired, you are more likely to die from law enforcement than from terrorism.

    Sounds like two of the same thing: “you are more likely to die of vodka than alcohol” for example.

    It’s shockingly embarassing how much better this:

    http://gp.org/press/pr_2006_09_11.shtml

    is than this:

    http://www.lp.org/fp/article_400.shtml

    The first one strikes at the heart of the issue and makes me wish I had written it; the second jabs incoherently at a mirage.

    http://alciaduh.blogspot.com/

  • paulie

    the Islamofascist

    There is no such thing.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/margolis/margolis46.html

    terrorists hate us for our freedom.

    This is true. Dubai-ya and Chainey are the chief terrorists. They hate us for our freedom, which is why they have been busy dismantling what’s left of it ever since they stole their first election, and with greater speed since they staged their Reichstag Fire (9-11) and Enabling Act (“USA Patriot”, Homeland Security [Gestapo} etc). They’ve already had their Czechoslovakia and Austria (Afgahistan and Iraq) and Iran is prime candidate to be their Poland. The “war on terrorism” is a war on freedom, and the regime are the terrorists of a turd reich.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_reich

  • paulie

    war on terror is ”˜the calling of our generation.’

    And all generations to come, since it is impossible to win, just like the war on drugs. Perpetual wars are perfect for the regime fascist-terrorists, since wars are the health of the state.

    http://struggle.ws/hist_texts/warhealthstate1918.html

    http://www.mises.org/store/Costs-of-War-P80C0.aspx

    Osama Bin Ladin is just Emmanuel Goldstein

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four

  • paulie

    Do we have to fight ourselves to rid the world of terrorism?

    Of course! That’s the whole point. One of the stages of the war soon to follow will be another fake terrorist attack allegedly staged by “domestic” terrorists. Then the domestic crackdown will begin in earnest, setting the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans loose on the American population to use the same terror tactics they used in the middle east. The FEMA concentration camps are already built. They’re making their lists and checking them twice. The surveillance technology to round everyone up and keep them penned in is in place. All that’s left to do is light the match, just like they did five years ago, and to find the appropriate scapegoat.

  • paulie

    “[If killing terrorists is the goal], why hasn’t Bush been killed?”

    Bingo! He would have to kill himself. Wouldn’t be prudent.

  • paulie

    Killing terrorists is the goal. So if nothing else, I give credit to Bush for killing or otherwise neutralizing 5,000 terrorists since 9/11 (NYT).


    And thereby creating how many more? Wake up!

  • DAP

    “Then they don’t hate us for “our freedoms” then, do they?”

    Yes, they hate us because we are the biggest force for freedom in the entire world, as I pointed out. I think this point is exhausted Mike, time to move on to a new one.

    “The “Terrorists” hate us for our policies. They hate us for our meddling in the internal politics of THEIR countries.”

    Rather than meddling, they cannot stand that globalization provides a western ‘intrusion’ on their way of life. Sure, we do meddle with their policies also (which I do not support), but this is not what makes them fly planes into our buildings. They do this because our ideology of freedom and prosperity is fundamentally opposed to their’s of submission and Islam. The Al Jazeera website has many videos of members in Al Qaeda. I recommend watching those videos and listening to why the terrorists say they hate us. I suspect that many of us who have jumped off the deep end in politics will be surprised.

  • DAP

    Paulie: Since we cannot agree on your fundamental premise (that 9/11 was an inside job) then I cannot argue with you.

  • DAP

    And on the point that killing terrorists inspires more islamofascists to become terrorists:

    This may be true, however human resources are a limited resource, and we can surely kill terrorists more quickly then the fascists can train new ones.

  • disinter

    Yes, they hate us because we are the biggest force for freedom in the entire world, as I pointed out.

    Actually, none of your 5 “obvious” reasons have anything to do with our freedoms.

    Your claim that they “hate us for our freedom” is false.

  • DAP

    Mike.

    To recap my four points, America represents the most free peoples of any country, represents the largest army of free peoples, we are the largest force for globalization, and we support free countries in their war on terror.

    In these ways, America is the largest force for freedom (and therefore secularism, and the other qualities that go along with freedom) and that is why Islamofascists hate us. Therefore, the claim that ‘they hate us for our freedom’ is true. If you disagree, then you not only disagree with me but also with the terrorists who openly claim that these are the reasons why they hate us. Again, if you can pull yourself away from blockquoting other people’s blogs and reposting them as your own, I recommend you check out the Al Jazeera website and watch some of these videos.

  • disinter

    DAP,

    Since we cannot agree on your fundamental premise (that 9/11 was not an inside job) then I cannot argue with you.

  • DAP

    The things I said are true and stand on their own merits regardless of what happend on 9-11.

  • paulie

    The things I said are true and stand on their own merits regardless of what happend on 9-11.

    No they don’t.

    Even if the preposterous 19 Arabs with boxcutters conspiracy theory of 9-11 was true, it would not change the stated grievances: USSA regime providing money extorted from those in its turf to pay the Israeli regime, USSA enforcers stationed in the Muslim holy land of Saudi Arabia, and a USSA blockade of Iraq, resulting in the death of a million Iraqis at that time, over half children. Ask yourself how you would feel if they killed a million Americans, half of them children; occupied the holy land of your religion, if you have one; and supplied – say – a colony of North Koreans who took over half of California.

    This may be true, however human resources are a limited resource, and we can surely kill terrorists more quickly then the fascists can train new ones.

    Precisely wrong. Your fascist regime has created far more terrorists than it has killed.

  • DAP

    Paulie I don’t think you understand my point which is this: even if 9-11 was a terrorist attack by the US gov’t against its own country, it does not have any effect on the validity of my four points as to why America is the greatest force of freedom in the world (despite what Pres. Bush does to mitigate this): “America represents the most free peoples of any country, represents the largest army of free peoples, we are the largest force for globalization, and we support free countries in their war on terror.”

  • DAP

    (cont…)
    To touch briefly on your 9-11 theory: I do not claim to know what happened on 9-11. All I know is what people tell me, and all I can do is examine the credibility of these sources. The box cutter theory is supported by the Bush administration which is not a trustworthy source. And, the Blame-the-Jews theory is supported by every Arab fascist regime in the eastern hemisphere (and self proclaimed socialists and a few so-called “libertarians” in the blogosphere). I am confident that neither theory is completely correct, but I feel comfortable leaning towards the story backed by the leaders of the free world rather than those backed by people who participate in a self-acknowledged jihad against the free world.

    I suggest you check out the free online documentary on the theories of fascist Arab leaders as to what happened on 9-11 at mermifilms.org . I believe you will find some unlikely allies in your Blame-the-Jews theory.

  • paulie

    What blame the Jews theory? Please don’t put words in my mouth. I don’t blame myself for 9-11, I blame the Bush Crime Family.

    “America represents the most free peoples of any country,

    Not anymore.

    represents the largest army of free peoples,

    The USSA regime’s military is not an army of free peoples. It is financed with stolen loot, used for imperialism, and under the command of a fascist regime.

    we are the largest force for globalization,

    Managed globalization? Who needs that?

    and we support free countries in their war on terror

    There are no free countries. The war OF terror is just a war to terrify the residents of this and other countries into giving the terrorists (their own regimes) more power over them.

    There is no islamo-fascism; check the link I provided to prove that.

    I need to get off the web, I’ll check your link tomorrow or whenever I can get online next.

  • paulie

    Actually, I cut it too close and have to spend another day here. I checked the link but the website was not found.

  • http://www.renbook.com Gene Berkman

    Wired forget to include statistics for one threat:
    Chance of dying from smoking pot = 0

    Of course, the chance of being killed by a DEA agent while possessing pot is a lot higher. (no pun intended)

  • Lenny Zimmermann

    DAP,

    WTF is an Islamo fascist? I fail to see the connection between the religion of Islam and corporate-controlled, authoritarian government.

  • DAP

    Sorry, the link should read http://www.memrifilms.org/

    Hey Lenny, an Islamofascist is a fascist member of Islam.
    Also, you may want to check your definition of fascism, I found this: “A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts the nation above the individual; characterized by a centralized government and headed by a dictatorial leader.”
    http://www.thinkquest.org/library/

  • http://www.tom-hanna.org Tom Hanna

    So, let me get this straight, you’re proposing the government wage a “War on Falling?” Granted, War on Terror is a somewhat silly rhetorical device. Unfortunately at least we can sort of agree on what terror is, so there is some idea of what is being fought. As the argument above demonstrates the more reasonable statement that we are at war with Islamic extremists, leaves people arguing about “what’s extreme?”. The answer – purposely targeting purely civilian populations in sites of no military value. Oh, that’s terrorism, isn’t it? “War on Terror” is a rhetorical device resulting from the KISS rule – Keep It Simple Stupid. But hey, maybe the government should fight a “War on Walking Down the Street” instead.

  • http://www.tom-hanna.org Tom Hanna

    Lenny, fascism was connected to corporatism, but that doesn’t involve corporations in the modern American business oriented sense. The idea that fascism, a variety of socialism, was capitalist is a lie spread by the modern left.

    Take Wikipedia with a grain of salt, always, but their article on the subject is very good and well researched:

    “Historically, corporatism or corporativism (Italian corporativismo) is a political system in which legislative power is given to civic assemblies that represent economic, industrial, agrarian, and professional groups.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatism

  • paulie

    purposely targeting purely civilian populations in sites of no military value.

    Like the US id doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? Like it has done in all its wars?

    Hey Lenny, an Islamofascist is a fascist member of Islam.
    Also, you may want to check your definition of fascism, I found this: “A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts the nation above the individual; characterized by a centralized government and headed by a dictatorial leader.”

    Centralized government? National leader? Sounds like W, not Bin Ladin or the Iraqi resistance.

  • paulie

    Speaking of wikipedia,

    “Fascism is a radical political ideology that combines elements of corporatism, authoritarianism, nationalism, militarism, anti-anarchism, anti-communism and anti-liberalism.”

    “Fascism ought to more properly be called corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini

    A recent definition is that by former Colombia University Professor Robert O. Paxton:

    * “Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

    Again, this sounds like the Bush gang…not Bin Ladin or the Iraqi resistance…

  • paulie

    Unfortunately memri’s clips were too large to download here.

    However, it would be a lot easier for you to download and read the text-only article I posted which explains that “Islamo-fascism” is a misnomer and a myth, and who the real fascists are in this conflict.

    If you believe Bin-Ladin carried out the 9-11 attacks and don’t know he is still a CIA puppet, read his own (alleged) words for why he did it.

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Text_of_2004_Osama_bin_Laden_videotape

  • paulie

    “the Mujahideen saw the black gang of thugs in the White House hiding the Truth, and their stupid and foolish leader, who is elected and supported by his people, denying reality and proclaiming that we (the Mujahideen) were striking them because we were jealous of them (the Americans), whereas the reality is that we are striking them because of their evil and injustice in the whole of the Islamic World, especially in Iraq and Palestine and their occupation of the Land of the Two Holy Sanctuaries. Upon seeing this, the Mujahideen decided teach them a lesson and to take the war to their heartland. On the blessed Tuesday 11 September 2001, while the Zionist-American Alliance was targeting our children and our people in the blessed land of Al-Aqsa, with American tanks and planes in the hands of the Jews, and our people in Iraq were suffering from the America’s sanctions upon them, and the Islamic world was very far away from establishing Islam properly.” ”“ Osama bin Laden, February 14,2003

  • paulie

    from Margolis article:
    Both the terms “terrorism” and “fascist” have been so abused and overused that they have lost any original meaning. The best modern definition I’ve read of fascism comes in former Columbia University Professor Robert Paxton’s superb 2004 book, The Anatomy of Fascism.

    Paxton defines fascism’s essence, which he aptly terms its “emotional lava” as: 1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign “contamination.”

  • paulie

    (cont from Margolis)
    Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors. All successful fascists regimes, Paxton points out, allied themselves to traditional conservative parties, and to the military-industrial complex.

    Highly conservative and militaristic regimes are not necessarily fascist, says Paxton. True fascism requires relentless aggression abroad and a semi-religious adoration of the regime at home.

  • Julian

    Paulie

    Again you are attempting to dominate dialogue with your wild ass conspiracy, Bush is responsible for everything, only you and your kind are right crap again. Can’t the rest of us libertarians get an idea in edge wise?

    You again have your bra on too tight and your panties in a knot. It is getting where no one wants to debate you because your narcissistic self believes only in yourself as Ms. right and no one else has an opinion or idea worth expressing.

    Why don’t you go to the anarchists sites where you belong?

  • DAP

    “If you believe Bin-Laden carried out the 9-11 attacks and don’t know he is still a CIA puppet, read his own (alleged) words for why he did it.”

    As I said, I can only judge the credibility of my sources, and anything alleged and/or on wikipedia is by its very nature lacking credibility.

    “[Paulie], Why don’t you go to the anarchists sites where you belong?”

    I consider myself an anarchocapitalist, and I still think that these conspiracy theories are the height of absurdity.

    “Centralized government? National leader? Sounds like W, not Bin Laden or the Iraqi resistance.”
    (cont…)

  • DAP

    I agree that we are too centralized, but the Islamofascist regimes are completely centralized. I don’t understand your claim that they are not, and your quoted definitions of fascism only solidified my understanding that Islamofascism exists. If you don’t think these people are Islamic, maybe you should ask them and they can verify it for you. If you don’t think that they are fascist, maybe its time to learn a little more about their policies.

    Meanwhile, this bring me back to the crux of my very first post: “It is crucial that we libertarians remember that despite all their shortcomings, Bush, Olmert, Blair, and the leaders of other free westernized nations are on the right side on the war on terror.” Even if you believe they are leading their countries down the road to authoritarianism, the status quo is this: they are the leaders of the greatest (relatively) free countries in the world, and their war on Islamofascism.

  • paulie

    As I said, I can only judge the credibility of my sources, and anything alleged and/or on wikipedia is by its very nature lacking credibility.

    Bin Laden’s quotes about the reasons for the attack have been widely reported from several videotapes the US regime and corporate media allege are of Bin Laden himself. I only say alleged because I personally doubt they are genuine Bin Laden videotapes; however if you believe the US regime and its puppets in the press, these are in fact Bin Laden quotes.

    the Islamofascist regimes are completely centralized.

    Which ones? Name them. Have you read this? You really should, it’s pretty short and sums things up nicely.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/margolis/margolis46.html

  • paulie

    From Margolis: “There is nothing in any part of the Muslim World that resembles the corporate fascist states of western history. In fact, clan and tribal-based traditional Islamic society, with its fragmented power structures, local loyalties, and consensus decision-making, is about as far as possible from western industrial state fascism.

    The Muslim World is replete with brutal dictatorships, feudal monarchies, and corrupt military-run states, but none of these regimes, however deplorable, fits the standard definition of fascism. Most, in fact, are America’s allies.

    Nor do underground Islamic militant groups (“terrorists” in western terminology). They are either focused on liberating land from foreign occupation, overthrowing “un-Islamic” regimes, driving western influence from their region, or imposing theocracy based on early Islamic democracy.”

    Al Qaida is not a state and doesn’t want to become one. Iraq under Saddam was secular. Ahmadinejad was elected. Who are the fascists?

  • DAP

    “Which ones? Name them. Have you read this? You really should, it’s pretty short and sums things up nicely.”

    I do not agree with Paxton’s definition of fascism. It is unlike any other definition I have read and is clearly used in this article simply to force a point the author intended and not because it is better than the more common and accepted definitions.

    First, I never claimed that the specific countries were fascist anyway (however some come to mind now that I think about it). All that I said was that we are fighting the proponents of Islamic fascism, regardless of what country they claim allegiance to.

    To talk about specific countries, the first three fascist countries that come to mind are Iran, Palestine, and Iraq. You bring up the point that their respective leaders were elected, but democracy and fascism are not mutually exclusive (it is very possible to vote for fascism). (cont..)

  • DAP

    (cont..)I think you understand this point anyway because you claim that the ‘USSA regime’ is fascist and Bush was democratically elected. In Iraq’s case, although the Ba’ath party was secular, it was also very nationalistic and it claimed to be socialist. Since the Ba’ath Party was not Islamic, perhaps Iraq is not Islamofascist, but it is a textbook definition of fascism.

    I asked google to define fascism, and the first definition that came up is:
    “A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism.” (From The American Heritage Dictionary)

    I like this definition, and the majority of the others that Google offered, you should check them out: http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Afascism&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

  • disinter

    “A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism.” (From The American Heritage Dictionary)

    Replace the word “dictator” with “president” in that definition and you have the USA.