Democrats & Liberals Archives

Risk of Terrorism

I finished reading Michael Moore’s book “Dude, where’s my country?” a couple of weeks ago. In the book, he made an interesting claim: There is no terrorist threat.

He wasn’t claiming that there is no RISK of death by terrorism. He meant that the RISK is so low we shouldn’t be basing our entire foreign policy, defense policy and domestic policy on that RISK.

How low is the RISK of death by terrorism? I found a website that lists all the conditions of death.

If we select the worst year for terrorism in the history of the United States, 2001. About 3100 people died. This ranks the risk of death by terrorism (for that year only) at about 99. Right up there with "Infectious Diarrhea" (0.00% of deaths). That's right, in 2001, you had as much of risk of dying by crapping to much as you did by terrorism.

Now if you average those deaths out over 10 years, you get about 400 deaths a year (lets assume a few more successful attacks that kill a couple of hundred people). That moves the risk down to the level of Penicillin allergies (also 0.00% of deaths).

Compare all this to something like Influenza with over 63,000 deaths a year (0.02% of deaths).

So how many billions of dollars are we spending to protect the American public from this deadly scourge? The following is from the 2004 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services:

Pandemic Influenza. The budget includes $100 million for a new effort to protect the American people against the possibility of pandemic influenza. To ensure the reliability of vaccine production and increase our ability to quickly produce greater quantities of vaccine in the case of a pandemic, some American vaccine production capacity must be converted from the current egg-based methods to cell-based technology. HHS will work with manufacturers to ensure that cell-based vaccine production capacity is established.

Yup, 100 million. 0.1 billion.

How much have we spent on protecting ourselves from a possible threat from Iraq? 200 billion and growing. The rest of the defense budget? 400 billion and growing. The department of homeland security? 40 billion and growing.

Are we insane?

Posted by Al Maline at December 6, 2003 10:29 AM