Jamil Kazoun / Arabic News.com – 2007-09-28 22:07:51
Money for Peace, Not War:
A Plan for Immediate World Peace and Prosperity
(September 19, 2007) — Terrorism has become one of the most important topics occupying public discussion and politics, with the US, for years now, in a supposed war on terror. Enormous resources have been marshaled on this issue, and the subject is a major topic for politicians, the media, and the public.
In my book A Second American Revolution: Creating Rational Government, I wrote about the need for every law passed to be justified based on explicit cost-benefit analysis, and for the cost-benefit analysis to be part of the law.
Considering an issue, it must be quantifiable if we wish to deal with it in a rational way, and put it into perspective. Otherwise, emotions or other factors may lead down the wrong path, or cause less than optimal decisions to be made.
One of the first considerations is to know if the issue we want to address is a real problem or not. Towards this end, looking at the data on terrorism, in this case, should be a good guide. Some of the questions we may want to ask are:
How Many Deaths Are Caused by Terrorism?
The cost of human life can be determined, and put into perspective by comparing the number of deaths caused by terrorism with the leading causes of death in the US.
Event Type Killed per Year
Diseases of heart 699,697
Malignant neoplasms 553,251
Cerebrovascular disease 163,601
Lower respiratory diseases 123,974
Accidental injuries 97,707
Diabetes mellitus 71,252
Influenza and pneumonia 62,123
Alzheimer’s disease 53,679
syndrome, and nephrosis 39,661
Intentional self-harm (suicide) 29,423
Chronic liver disease 26,751
Assault (homicide) 19,727
hypertension and hyper-
tensive renal disease 19,054
Terrorism (see table below)
Cause of Death Number rate 2001 2000 change
• Source for average number of deaths from lightning: US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Taking one components of the accidental death of all causes in the US, here is the data only related to car accidents.
Number of death from car accidents alone
(numbers in the table are approximate):
Event Type Killed per year Injured per year Social cost and threat
Car accidents 42,000 5,300,000
The human capital method used to calculate the injury and crash costs does not include the costs associated with loss of emotional well being unless medical attention is required. Values for “pain and suffering” or permanent losses in functional capacity, unless they result in permanent earnings loss, are also not quantified by human capital measures.
Husbands and wives widowed; children lost parents; parents lost children; victims and relatives suffered permanent scaring and injuries, both physical and emotional.
• Source: US Department Of Transportation.
Year US Citizens Killed in the US
(Fifty-six Americans were killed worldwide.
Nine inside the US, and 47 died in Iraq. It is not clear if Iraq-related incidents should be included in such statistics.)
• Source: US Department Of State.
Terrorism acts per year and number killed worldwide of all nationalities:
Year Number-of-Acts People Killed
2003 208 625
2002 205 725
2001 355 3547*
* (excluding the 3,074 killed on 9/11= 473)
2000 426 405
1999 395 233
1998 274 741
1997 304 221
1996 296 311
1995 440 165
1994 322 NA
1993 431 NA
1992 363 NA
1991 565 NA
1990 437 NA
1989 375 NA
1988 605 NA
1987 665 NA
1986 612 NA
1985 635 NA
1984 565 NA
1983 506 NA
1982 500 NA
Total killed worldwide of all nationalities from 1995 to 2004:
Average killed from terrorism per year:
Average killed from terrorism per year without 9/11 victims:
• Source for number of acts: US Department of State._Source for number if killed: Wikipedia _(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterns_of_Global_Terrorism).
Total US Citizens casualties caused_by international attacks 1998-2003:
Year Dead Wounded
1998 12 11
1999 6 6
2000 23 47
2001 2,689 90
2002 27 37
2003 35 29
Year Dead Wounded
Average per year killed: 465
Average per year killed 20
(without counting 9/11 US citizens victims)
•Source: US Department of State.
Looking at all these facts, we can draw the following conclusions. Without considering the singular event of 9/11, the average number of US citizens killed by terrorism per year anywhere in the world is 465, and this is the average over the years 1998 to 2003. If we go back further to include previous ten years, this number will probably be much lower.
If we exclude the 9/11 US citizens victims, the average number of Americans killed from terrorism worldwide is twenty persons per year. If we only count US citizens killed within the US territories, the number is closer to zero persons per year.
Think for a moment about these numbers. The number of US citizens killed per year from lighting averages sixty-seven people. This means that a US citizen has at least three times greater chance of being killed from lightning than being killed by a terrorist act anywhere in the world. Does it make sense to spend a year worrying about being struck by lightening? No, because you have to be pretty unlucky to be killed from lightening.
So why is everyone so preoccupied with terrorism?
What is the Economic Cost of Terrorism?
Glen Hodgson, Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist of Export Development Canada, wrote:
“The US alone now spends about $500 billion annually – 20 percent of the US federal budget – on departments directly engaged in combating or preventing terrorism, most notably Defense and Homeland Security. The Defense budget increased by one-third, or over $100 billion, from 2001 to 2003 in response to the heightened sense of the threat of terrorism – an increase equivalent to 0.7 percent of US GDP.
Expenditures on defense and security are essential for any nation, but of course they also come with an opportunity cost; those resources are not available for other purposes, from spending on health and education to reductions in taxes. A higher risk of terrorism, and the need to combat it, simply raises that opportunity cost.
Second, there are the short-term economic costs associated with terrorist events. In countries where terrorism has struck, there is the immediate shock – loss of life and property – followed quickly by a negative impact on the insurance industry, short-term investment flows, stock market valuations, and tourism and related employment.
Insurance claims arising from 9/11 are conservatively estimated at $40 billion and will take years of court time to resolve. Work by the IMF after 9/11 estimated that the tragic events that day cost the US economy up to $75 billion in GDP in 2001, or 0.75 percent of GDP that year, with tourism generally and the airline industry in particular bearing the brunt of the downturn.”
The Center for Contemporary Conflict at the US Naval Postgraduate School made the following observations on the immediate and short-term direct impacts of 9/11:
“The September 11 attacks inflicted casualties and material damages on a far greater scale than any other terrorist aggression in recent history. Lower Manhattan lost approximately 30 percent of its office space and a number of businesses ceased to exist. Close to 200,000 jobs were destroyed or relocated out of New York City, at least temporarily.
“The destruction of physical assets was estimated in the national accounts to amount to $14 billion for private businesses, $1.5 billion for state and local government enterprises and $0.7 billion for federal enterprises. Rescue, cleanup, and related costs have been estimated to amount to at least $11 billion for a total direct cost of $27.2 billion.”
They added, “The losses from the terrorist attacks for the insurance industry (including reinsurance) are estimated at between $30 and $58 billion with the main uncertainty concerning liability insurance. By comparison the losses associated with Hurricane Andrew’s 1992 damage in Florida came to around $21 billion. Even if the final cost is close to the lower estimate, insured losses in 2001 are likely to have been the highest ever.”
The Congressional Budget Office said that direct spending on terrorism by the government was $47.3 billion, and said $95 billion was spent on Operation Iraqi Freedom. And the military budget is $626 billion, according to Global Issues (www.globalissues.org), an independent news website that tracks global political, human rights, and environmental issues.
There are roughly one hundred million households in the US, according to the Census Bureau. This means that each family, or household, is spending $473 a year on direct terrorism fighting, about $950 on Iraq, and about $6,260 in general military spending (indirect spending on terrorism) per year.
Why Is the US Government Spending
So Much Money and Generating
So Much Hype on Terrorism?
About 42,000 people die on average per year from car accidents alone in the US, at a cost of about $230 billion. Compare 42,000 people versus about twenty people on an average year that die from terrorism (or 465 people if we include the 9/11 as a typical year).
These numbers put the human cost of terrorism into perspective. Fear is harmful when it is irrational. And, looking at these numbers, it seems that the fear generated from terrorism is extremely irrational.
Worse yet, and what is most important, is that such irrational fear is leading citizens to act irrationally. This allows governments to spend enormous amounts of money on such causes. Fear has resulted in citizens giving free hands to governments to take away civil liberties.
Hatred has spread worldwide, pitting societies against each other, such as the Christians against Muslims, and the West against the Middle East, or Muslims in general. Many Muslims have reacted with hate for the West.
And you can see how the actions and reactions of such hate leads to a downward spiral of more hate, suspicion, military action, and increased security-related spending. Many Politicians love such scenarios of crisis, and feed on fear and human instincts, as do many in the media, each for its own benefit.
One thing fear is good for, aside from being a protective instinct, is television or radio or other ratings. Having something exciting to talk about can be fun. But sadly, some use terrorist acts for great political benefits – as an instrument to stay in power, or to scare people to get elected.
Fear can be a great weapon in the hands of those who want to pray upon citizens’ natural instincts to want to be protected. And fear can suppress the good nature in human beings by bringing out hate and destroying liberty – all under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
Worse yet, overreactions, fighting, and overprotecting yourself can generate the very thing you are trying to avoid – more hate directed towards you, which in turn may create more terrorism, instead of less.
Are we so threatened by terrorism and war that all means for rational thinking have been ditched aside, so that we can’t see reality and put the problem in perspective? Politicians and the media can be each other’s best friends, and both have their own interests. Since the public like interesting stories, terrorism seems to fill the need.
Most people like to hear in the news about a mother giving birth to seven children at one time, but how often does this happen? Fun to read and talk about, but this is not your usual birth event. So is the case with terrorism. While the subject isn’t fun, it certainly grabs our attention, and gives us much to talk and worry about.
Maybe that is why terror and horror movies are so popular. The media loves and thrives on sensationalism, because it seems to feed human instincts of lust and attraction for fear and grabs their attention, because the main function of private media is to make money, as any business is supposed to do.
Politicians love to scare the public, and promise to protect them from “terrorism” and the “bad guys” in order to get elected, increase special interest spending, or to beat up political opponents who they label as weak on defense and security simply because they dare to question the reality of where best to spend money, and the alternative ways to establish peace in this world, without militarism.
So here we can see how the public’s lack of proper analytic skills is compounded by politicians and media who can be eager to capitalize on fear. Some media companies fear competition from the others and play to these fears to win their audience.
Similarly, politicians are afraid to loose votes to bellicose opponents who may label them “weak on defense.” Fear, money, and power create a vicious cycle, and if the country is spending that much money on militarism, they have special interests for doing so.
The US declared war on terrorism, and brought world countries in line with this issue. The word “war” is used sometimes to galvanize public opinion about open-ended and undefined conflict, which is not an actual war.
Who decides officially to declare this a war? Who is the enemy? How long will this war last? And when do we know the war is won?
Is terrorism really something worthy of declaring war? Or has war become a political term to hijack citizens into a false sense of security by surrendering their rights, money, and votes, because the government is supposedly protecting them from enemies in a war?
A person has to then ask: Is it smart to be spending about $7,000 per household per year on war-related activities when the number of people dying in the US from terrorism is less than those dying each year from lightning? And even when 3,000 died in 9/11, remember that about 40,000 die each year from car accidents. Car accidents cost the US economy about $270 billion each year, which is much more than terrorism can ever come close to. Heart disease related deaths amount to about 700,000 per year at enormous cost. How much is the government spending towards this end?
Put another way, if the government wasn’t confiscating this $7,000 from each household through taxes to spend on militarism, and this money was handed back to you instead as a check, would you send it back to the government for defense or would you keep it for yourself? This is an extra $7,000 every single year to use in your household! I wager that few, if any, would send the check back to the government because that is a lot of money to spend on war and defense.
The US public views a certain amount of deaths from car accidents, gang or criminal activity, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs as reasonable.
Even in Iraq, they accept a certain number of deaths for soldiers. Why not accept a certain number of deaths from terrorism? The amount of money spent to prevent these very few deaths from terrorism is hard to justify for the benefits. After all, reducing the highway speed limit to five miles per hour would save about 40,000 lives a year, but no one is fighting for that change.
People don’t think twice about the dangers of driving on the highway, yet they lose sleep worrying about acts of terrorism. Clearly, the fear the terrorism is very disproportionate to its actual danger.
Safety is very highly valued by citizen; but in some areas, it can be in great disproportionate to the true risks. You can make your own judgment about how and where you think money should be spent. You can have it spent on one or any combination of these options, or paths: war, peace, hate, plow shares, and extending love. $7,000 given to each household can do great things inside the US, and can do absolute miracles if spent for peace and development in our world.
This is a chapter from the book “A Third American Revolution: A New World Government. A Plan for Liberty, Justice and Peace.”
The author, Jamil Kazoun, is organizing a conference on world peace to be in February 2008 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, USA. The conference “World Peace 2010” will focus on conflict areas in the world with the aim of finding solutions, such as for the Palestinian — Israeli and Arab — Israeli conflict, Iraq, Irish conflict, India-Pakistan conflict, and others.
• If you would like to be considered for participation or sponsorship, please contact ANFOG@aol.com. The author is available for interviews about the book and the conference, and encourages all to review the book to increase awareness of it to promote peace, and for having the goals of the plan for a World Peace by 2010 a success.