Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Getting our Priorites Straight; or, What A Crock

It seems some guy called the California state police, anonymously, and claimed that four Chinese "scientists" and two Iraqis were heading to Boston to set off a "dirty bomb" (an explosive with some sort of radioactive isotope included that would contaminate a small area with low-level radioactivity). The Governor of Massachusetts flew home immediately (poor guy, he'll miss the inauguration, what a heroic sacrifice). The Mayor held a press conference. The TV news talked about nothing else -- well, okay, they also talked about the Patriots. The newspapers all have screaming banner headlines.

Personally, I consider the actual probability that four Chinese and two Iraqis are coming to Boston to set off a dirty bomb to be in the general vicinity of the probability that an asteroid is going to hit City Hall this week. But I do know this with 100% certainty:

  1. 13,000 children in Massachusetts are lead poisoned every year;
  2. A baby dies in Massachusetts once a day, on average;
  3. Somebody dies of HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts once a day, on average;
  4. 2 people die in Massachusetts in car crashes on an average day;
  5. 1 person takes his or her own life in Massachusetts every day, on average;
  6. 4 people die from other causes of injury, often on the job, on an average day in Massachusetts;
  7. 4 people die every day from diabetes in Massachusetts, most of them from Type 2 diabetes which is completely preventable;
  8. 10 people die from stroke, 38 from cancer, and 40 from heart disease, every day. Many of those deaths are premature -- they could have been prevented;
  9. About 150 people are murdered in Massachusetts every year;

I don't see the Governor flying home to do something about any of this, I don't see the Mayor calling press conferences, and I don't see the headlines. Oh yeah, maybe I do see headlines for the murders, though I don't see any thoughtful consideration of why homicides happen.

Well, nothing more to say on this, except that Massachusetts is one of the healthiest states, with a comparatively low rate of premature mortality. I don't think those dirty bombers are going to change that, even if they do show up and do their worst. But the stupidity of our leaders and our mass media might.

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