Real Threats

“If you added up all the women who have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends since 9/11, and then you add up all the Americans who were killed by 9/11 or in Afghanistan and Iraq, more women were killed by their husbands or boyfriends.”
~Gloria Steinem, as quoted by Corey Robin in Violence Against Women and the Politics of Fear

“Americans are a whopping 29 times more likely to die at the hands of a police officer than they are of a terrorist attack. It’s impossible to say for certain how many people are killed by cops each year, but the best estimate is anywhere from 600-1,000. Contrast that with the 30 police officers who were killed in 2013.”
~Caleb G., Why American Police Departments Are More Of A Threat Than ISIS

People are notoriously bad about assessing personal risk.

I’m an American. Like most Americans, I’ve spent my whole life in this country and don’t travel outside the country. The genuine threats that should concern me are in America. I’m more likely to be killed by my own government than by a foreign government. I’m more likely to be killed by a Christian than by a Muslim.

Also, I’m “white”. Like most whites, I live in a white neighborhood in a white community. I don’t spend much time with non-whites. As the data shows, whites such as myself are more likely to experience crimes and violence from other whites. Blacks have more to fear from whites in this country than vice versa, since most of the police, judges, etc are white.

Being a white American, I’m way safer than the vast majority of people in the world. I have little to realistically worry about. I have no reason to fear terrorism, ebola, or much else.

I have more reason to fear being run over by a car or having a heart attack. Why doesn’t the news obsess over the things that actually will kill me?

McDonald’s unhealthy food is one of the greatest threats to my life in the immediate vicinity. Why doesn’t the government spend millions of dollars to fight that menace?

My rights are more likely to be taken away by the ruling elite of my own country. Why don’t we Americans fight that enemy?

12 thoughts on “Real Threats

  1. In the immediate future, the single largest threats are:

    – The out of control financial services industry
    – Agribusiness and the food industry
    – For those living near it, perhaps the chemical, mining, and energy industries

    In the long run, global warming is likely to be a very serious problem.

    McDonald’s unhealthy food is one of the greatest threats to my life in the immediate vicinity. Why doesn’t the government spend millions of dollars to fight that menace?

    Simply put, because the government is corrupt and McDonald’s has some very powerful lobbyists.

    They have managed to corrupt the food system and essentially can use their power to block legislation unfavorable.

    • Yeah. It isn’t that everything can be blamed on the 0.1%. But the problems of the 0.1% exacerbate nearly every other problem, partly because the status quo of the ruling elite doesn’t allow the most important problems to be dealt with.

  2. I think you underestimate the problems that the 0.1% caused. Perhaps not everything was their fault, but the majority of problems were.

    Enriching themselves
    – Financial de-regulation
    – Tax evasion (leads to deficits)
    – Shareholder only mentality

    Letting the US fall apart
    – Total lack of investment in infrastructure
    – Support for things like the war in Iraq
    – No effort to address domestic issues like crime, poverty, etc

    Personal actions
    – Many have investments or are executives in corporations that are doing a lot of bad things (ex: fossil fuel on climate change)
    – Campaign contributions to specific politicians to serve them

    We could make a bigger list, but you get the idea.

    At heart the issue is that the 0.1% feel that they don’t have a stake in society, that the well-being of everyone is their business. Instead there’s a feeling of society being theirs to loot. It seems to be a fundamental moral failing of sorts.

    There’s also the problem that as you note they will block any attempt to make real lasting changes.

    • I didn’t mean to imply I wasn’t taking seriously the full impact of the plutocracy. I just meant that the problems are more systemic, involving the entire social order and everything it touches. But of course, the plutocracy have the greatest control of and hence responsibility for the social order.

      I tend to see things systemically. Because I tend to think in terms of systems. The uber-rich are as much stuck in these problems as the rest of us, even if their situation is more comfortable.

      The data shows, for example, that the wealthy are also worse off in high inequality societies. So, it doesn’t even make sense in terms of rational self-interest. The wealthy would also benefit from a more fair and just society.

      Greed will only take one so far in understanding the problem. Systems have a way of self-perpetuating and their inertia can be immense. To be in a social order is to be in a reality tunnel. What make sense from within may look like madness from without, but while trapped in it you don’t have the capability of taking a broader perspective.

      It is no easy task to jolt a society out of an old order, much less into a new one. Not easy nor without suffering. There is good reason people fear change, even when maintaining the status quo is problematic.

  3. We seem to have a perfect storm going on in the US really.

    A very greedy top 0.1% combined with a large proportion of people who for various historical reasons, are either ignorant or anti-intellectual. Combined, this has led to a massive transfer of wealth upwards, along with increasingly self-inflicted problems.

    Politics is very polarized by race and class – something the very wealthy have been able to ruthlessly exploit. Compounding this issue, there is a general lack of critical thinking in society.

    Yes I agree there’s a huge social inertia going on. Likewise, inequality is very bad for the wealthy too. The book, the Spirit Level may be of interest.

    APA Article:

    But the problem is the system is deeply entrenched and that most people don’t seem to realize how big reforms are needed.

  4. You may be right – revolutionary change is needed.

    The issue then becomes how does one assure that a revolution would lead to a better society?

    It’s possible that a revolution could come from the right and lead the US down into fascism.

    The truth is, if and when a revolution comes, it will likely be one which most people are not likely to predict … and the impacts too will be hard to predict.

    • Part of the problem isn’t whether revolution will lead to good or bad results. If attempts at reform fail and hope for progress is frustrated, revolution becomes inevitable, no matter what we fear may be the results. Revolutions can’t be controlled or, as you point out, their impacts predicted. The one thing we know for certain is change will happen, one way or another.

  5. ” Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
    – John F. Kennedy

    In many ways, I see our modern society as being one like Versailles – the very wealthy being willfully ignorant in some ways and in other ways, being a massive drain on society.

    The question is, how bad will it have to get before people act? When the next recession hits? Will the real rate of unemployment be double this one?

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