Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The New Math

I figure y'all are probably getting tired of reading about my moving-related programs-activities, and might be be open to a post that's a little more old-skool. As it happens, I was inspired to do a few rough calculations this morning. I know all of my figures and assumptions are subject to argument, but let's go through it anyway, just for the hell of it.

Let's start with an approximate assessment of George W. Bush's most significant blunders that have resulted in the deaths of Americans. We could take this in a hundred different directions, obviously -- how many have died due to lower environmental standards? Due to the lack of health care? Due to poverty? -- but I'd prefer to stay away from such unquantifiable abstractions. So let's just stick to the most obvious three: 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Iraq War. Those are three examples of events that were handled by the administration with spectacular incompetence, and which have resulted in official body counts.

9/11: 2974 (not counting the 19 hijackers)
Hurricane Katrina: 1836
Iraq War (American fatalities only): 3750

So that's a total of 8560 dead Americans. Now, just to be reasonable, let's assume that some of those people would've died anyway. Available figures differ, but it seems that the average number of deaths per year in the United States is around 2 million. Given that the approximate population of the US is 300 million, that means in any given year 0.6% of the population will die of their own accord. So adjusted for the normal death rate, roughly 50 of those people would've died even without presidential intervention. And just so we know absolutely and for sure that we've given Bush adequate benefit of the doubt, let's double that figure. After all, there were a lot of poor, elderly people and reckless young men included in that body count. So that would leave us with 8460 dead.

George W. Bush has been in office, as of today, for 2289 days. So that's... 3.7 needlessly-dead Americans per day.

Wow. Okay, so go along with me on this one: imagine that, on January 20, 2001, George W. Bush had stood before the people following his inauguration, and announced to the nation that his first act as President would be to have three random people slaughtered each and every day, plus some extras after church on Sunday. Men, women, kids, old people, executed by various eclectic means -- shooting, drowning, burning, random explosions, dropped from tall buildings, maybe even a few beheadings. They'd do it by lottery, Shirley Jackson-style. It'll probably never be you -- in fact, it'll probably be mostly the working class and minorities -- but who knows? It's certainly better odds than the Powerball. Any citizen, on any day, could be granted the honor of "dying for their country."

Would people be angry about that? Would they refuse to go along? If it were presented that way -- as a straightforward bargain, 3 dead per day on the president's direct orders -- would they have more of a problem with it than they do now? Because it seems that's essentially the bargain we've struck.

I wonder who today's three will be?

PS: And for any Republicans reading this: imagine instead that Clinton did it. Now how do you feel about it?
12:20 PM ::
Amy :: permalink