Fear is an Industry in the United States
We keep hearing the same things about our upcoming move to Mexico. “Why are you moving to Mexico? It is very dangerous there!” We constantly hear uninformed rhetoric about fear of travel, gleaned from cable news and talk radio about the murder rate, the kidnapping rate and the “disappearance” rate, etcetera, etcetera. We hear about the dangers of SCUBA diving, shark attacks and even heat exhaustion. Americans need to wake up to the realization that FEAR is an industry in the United States and we are rabid consumers of it.
Keeping Fear in Perspective
We are not saying you shouldn’t be cautious but some perspective needs to be applied. In 2002 tens of thousands of people in the United States swore off airplanes and began driving cars on vacation because they were afraid of being killed by terrorists. This despite the fact that in a typical year there are more than 40,000 people killed in vehicular accidents in the US. In other words, assuming the trend continued (which it didn’t) the odds of being killed by a terrorist in 2002 would have been one in 9 million. In that same year the odds of dying in a traffic accident were about one in 7,000. To put it a different way, probably more people were killed in 2002 not by terrorism but by fear of terrorism.
Given that, how many people do you hear about that are afraid of car travel? How many people do you hear clamoring for the government to mandate safer cars? – How many people fear terrorism? How many people do you hear clamoring for the government to do something about “those people”? With this in mind, let’s look at some numbers and how they apply to Mexico. Between 2004 and 2009 approximately 40 Americans per year died in Mexico of “unnatural causes”. That out of an average of 17.6 million American visits a year. Most of these deaths took place along the border and many were people that, let’s just say, were doing something they shouldn’t have been and many of the deaths were not even crime related.
Let’s Look at the Numbers
It is however pretty scary if you make an active effort not to think about it too hard. But before we give in to out fear of travel, let’s do something many think crazy and actually critically examine the numbers. (the following are approximate)
- 450,000 Americans die each year of heart disease but given those numbers how many people fear that enough to cut back on fast food and start exercising?
- 14,900 Americans die each year from falls.
- 8,600 Americans each year are poisoned.
- 3,300 Americans die each year from choking but how many Americans reduce the number of things they put in their mouths from fear of that?
- 1,500 Americans die each year from firearms.
- 14,406 die each year of alcoholic liver disease
- 45,000 Americans die in each year in the United States — one every 12 minutes — in large part because they lack health insurance and cannot get good care.
From accidents with machinery the number is 350, medical complications 500, poisoning by gas 700, drowning 4,000 it goes on and on. Where are the headlines? Where is the outrage? Where is the finger pointing and the blame? It isn’t always easy to find the boogeyman in these cases, so it doesn’t even make the news. Given these numbers, the way I figure it, it would be in much more dangerous for us if we were to sit around growing fat butts in an easy chair, drinking beer, watching cable news and cleaning guns than it is getting up and moving to Mexico.