Monday, January 08, 2007

Estimated death toll in Iraq, number of homicides in U.S. not far apart

In an article on Raw Story, the Iraqi death toll for 2006 is estimated to be 23,000. The estimated 2006 population of Iraq was 27 million, so 1 percent of the population was killed and I have no idea if there's a scientific ratio for every death, how many leave. The US suffered approximately 16,500 homicides per year since 2001, which is a dramatic improvement from the bloody, early nineties when 20,000+ were killed for a 5 year period. The US population is now estimated at 300 million, so it's much less than 1 percent. Perhaps that's why we tolerate the highest murder rate in the industrialized world.

To me, it's sad to have the numbers of homicides in this nation and seemingly nothing, with some glowing exceptions, such as NYC, where rates have been dramatically reduced after the initiative to get tough with petty crimes in order to curb violent crimes, such as turnstile jumpers in the subway who have no reason to pay, since they're seeking a robbery (or worse) victim, has been done to further reduce homicides. The numbers have dropped and held from the high numbers in the early nineties and the late 70s record heights. There have been a number of theories posited as to why the rate has dropped including the controversial Freakonomics theory that population controls on teenage pregnancy in the UK would be the first part of a solution to a future potential crime problem. Some argue that the Clinton administrations' crime bill that provided funding for approximately 100,000 additional officers in the streets and creative initiatives such as the "exile" program for those who engage in illegal drug transactions while armed with a handgun, particularly, where the perpetrator would be subject to Federal justice and possibly be shipped far from home, thereby "exiling" him to a future of a minimum 5 years in the system with no hope for parole and few visits from relatives who likely can't leave Richmond, VA for a federal prison 300+ miles away for instance, had a profound impact.

Nevertheless, it's sad to have such similar numbers in homicide numbers, despite the fact that our population dwarfs that of Iraq. Were 20,000 people killed in the Irish Troubles from 1969 to 2006 in Northern Ireland? Not even close to one year in "peaceful" America. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. Approximately 3,600 died in the Troubles in 37 years. Granted, it wasn't an outright conflict, but was a terror campaign by Catholics and Protestant paramilitarists alike(in addition to the government's police and troops. Iraq would welcome such quiet these days.

No hope for greater civility in the near future, not even amongst our own countrymen. Not to forget that the Bush administration has defunded the highly successful initiatives for anti-gang projects in the beleaguered cities of America.


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