As someone who received 4 years of intense training in mathematics, precisely none of which he is able to recall, I am aware that raw numbers like these are sometimes deceptive. I have not verified these numbers. Nonetheless, I will put a few here, and I suppose if you are so inclined, you can go and have a look at their source, and draw your own conclusions.

In any one year in America:
23,000 Americans are murdered.
85,000 are wounded by firearms.
38,000 of these die, including 2,600 children.
13,000,000 are victims of crimes including assault, rape, armed robbery, burglary, larceny, and arson.
37,000,000, or one out of every six Americans, regularly use emotion controlling medical drugs.
25,000,000, or one out of every 10 Americans, seek help from psychiatric, psychotherapeutic, or medical sources for mental and emotional problems, at a cost of over $4 billion annually.
2,900,000 children are reportedly subjected to serious neglect or abuse, including physical torture and deliberate starvation.
900,000 children, some as young as seven years old, are engaged in child labor in the United States, serving as underpaid farm hands, dishwashers, laundry workers, and domestics for as long as ten hours a day in violation of child labor laws.
2,000,000 to 4,000,00 women are battered. Domestic violence is the single largest cause of injury and second largest cause of death to U.S. women.
700,000 women are raped, one every 45 seconds.
At present in America:
5,100,000 people are behind bars or on probation or parole.
40,000,000 or more are without health insurance or protection from catastrophic illness.
4,500,000+ children, or more than half of the 9,000,000 children on welfare, suffer from malnutrition.
40,000,000 persons, or one of every four women and more than one of every ten men, are estimated to have been sexually molested as children.
12,000,000 of those at poverty’s rock bottom suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition.

Forgive if I don’t burst into spontaneous songs of praise, OK?
[link via abuddhasmemes]

Thoughts That, If Not Deep, Are At Least Wide

Join the conversation! 31 Comments

  1. Yeah, but we have great barbecue.

  2. And as someone with exhaustive training in Economics and statistics I can share two quotes;
    “If you lay all of the economists in the world end to end they still wont reach a conclusion”
    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” – Benjamin Disraeli
    I guess my point is that you make numbers mean anything, or nothing. I’m not sure what my point is here though, maybe we should just be glad that the Weber is a damn fine barbecue.

  3. I have a litte baby Weber with Homer Simpson in a cook apron on it. It’s cute and yellow.
    Numbers don’t tell stories.

  4. On second thought, no, not true, necessarily, dammit. Numbers tell as much a story as words do, sometimes.
    A story is told about me by the very numbers I choose to quote. A story might not be told about any one of the 700,000 women who are raped in America in any given year by the sheer fact of quoting that number, but a story is told about America, a tiny microstory, and it’s a sad goddamn tale, one that has neither happy ending nor cleansing fall of rain cascading down over the upturned faces of the main characters as the music swells. It may not be goddamn Walt Disney, it may be afflicted with a poverty of detail, of juice, but it’s still a story.

  5. Actually stav, I was going to point out that statistic in particular. You say it tells a story about America. I say it tells nothing because there is no relative information. 700,000 raped in America in a year, as opposed to how many worldwide? What about that number up against other comparable nations in history? How does America fare then? This number is telling me that rape exists. I knew that already. What it isn’t telling me is why or how. Are we talking about this occuring in Pacific Pallisades or South Central LA? Is this something that is inherently American because of booze, pills, pr0n or Jay Leno? (Of course, only one of those is American, though, I don’t want to claim him.)
    That’s what I meant about numbers never telling a story. Of course, I’m wrong about that (i.e. 6,000,000 Jews dead in camps in WWII tells a very dark tale), but it is true with the way you present these figures. They exist in a vacuum. I’m willing to concede that Americans love their violence, but I’m not willing to say that we are worse than other countries. I say this not because of overwhelming patriotism, but what I see around me.

  6. I hear what you’re saying, and really I just went a bit wobbly with my response upthread because I’m having a few beers after a particularly stressful day at Salt Mine University.
    I have to take some issue with what you said, though – 700,000 raped in America in a year, as opposed to how many worldwide? – at least to the ‘as opposed to…’ bit. I’d say that with that number (or any of the others I quoted), it’s immaterial whether they compare favorably or otherwise to comparable numbers from any other nation on earth. The numbers are big. By any measure.
    They are too much, too many, too mind-crogglingly large, and perhaps part of the reason that I quoted them was to say, too obliquely perhaps, that numbers like those would not only be too big for any Empire of Evil you might care to name, any Warlord-led Hellhole deep in the 3rd world somewhere, but coupled the observation that they emanate from a nation that declares itself the land of the free and the home of the brave, a nation whose leader points the finger and declares that he sees ‘evil-doers’ all around him, they are insupportable… maybe the shock of seeing such numbers in their raw form (if indeed abstractions like numbers are capable of shocking us any more) is useful? I don’t know.
    I shouldn’t piss on America as much as I do maybe, as so many of my friends are American, but dammit, I expect more out of your nation, and even while there are so many Good American People, it and your leaders constantly disappoint.
    That’s my problem, though, perhaps.

  7. Gulp. Feeling a bit frivolous now. Life is good, but sometime it isn’t. Does that count in the quote stakes?
    I have to agree that its a little worrying that these kind of numbers come out of our close allies across the Pacific, but I can’t think of a country that is much better so I don’t feel equipped to point the finger and start lecturing.
    Maybe someone should point that out to all of the (political) leaders around the world and let them know that we will only countenance being told how to put our houses in order once they’ve done the same with theirs. Alternatively, it could just be the Cascade and the nice bottle of Merlot talking.

  8. I’m constantly disappointed by our “leaders” myself. Those assholes.

  9. The reason that it’s easy to point the finger at the US is because it claims to be a paragon of peace, justice, prosperity, and freedom. Anyone claiming the moral high ground is subject to criticism and attack. And boy has the US claimed a lot lately.
    Comparatively, it *is* a great country with many opportunities. I live here, I know. But just because you can’t find a better country than the US doesn’t mean that you can’t hold the most powerful country in the world up to higher standards. Like stav said, no matter what the numbers are compared to, they are staggering. If so many people suffer in the world’s greatest country, imagine the misery present in the rest of the world. And that’s where we cover our faces and howl.

  10. Wait a minute. Do these numbers mean we should be more terrorized by the “non-terrorist” murders than by the “terrorist” murders? This is way to confusing and disturbing to me, so I’m just going to ignore this and drink an extra beer this weekend. Can’t we all just blog about more fun and whimsical numbers from now on? What’s the matter with you people?

  11. Y’all should’ve left it at the barbecue. No one ever listens to me.

  12. I know the numbers look staggering, but you are talking about a country whose population numbers 286,962,767 (US Census). 23,000 are murdered? That’s around .008%. Even a figure like $700,000 drops down to .2% of the population. Both of these numbers represent considerably less than 1% or the population. 2,900,000 abused children? Also much less than 1% of the population. How do these percentages fare in Korea? Or the UK? (I don’t know, just posing the question.)
    And how is George Bush (and this is the only time I’ve ever defended that fucker) responsible? Or even wrong in thinking that this country is doing pretty well? I really think it’s beyond the ability of government to stop child abuse, molestaion, rape or murder. These are, unfortuately, common human events. They have been for longer than this country has been around. So, again, I disagree that those numbers tell any real story. I live here and I know they don’t reflect what I see (and believe me, I’ve lived, worked and hung around in some crappy places in L.A.).
    Just to put the “terrorist, non terrorist” murder quip in a more realistic light. From the numbers above, it took nearly 300,000,000 Americans to kill 23,000 Americans in a year (if these figures are accurate.)
    A dozen or so terrorists killed nearly 3000 in a few hours on 9-11.

  13. eyeballkid : I don’t know the numbers for Korea, but that’s an interesting question. I’ll try and find out.
    Good points, regardless, although I will have to continue disagreeing with you about percentages.
    To me, though, turning numbers into percentages, and saying “Look, they’re not so big!”, makes the victims (I hate that word, but) that much less visible, makes their stories (which is what we were talking about originally, yeah?), that much more muffled, pushes them even further into being statistical cyphers.
    I think the truth (such as it ever is) gets lost when you start manipulating the numbers, as you did with the best of intentions, I know, above.
    I guess I’m not saying that America is such a bad place, I’m just wondering why it’s not better.
    Just my opinion.
    Now, can I buy you a beer?

  14. We agree on one point, your third paragraph. Basically, that numbers don’t tell the whole story (I’m revising.)
    And, yes.

  15. No wonder the Federation of Planets keeps slapping a “Toxic – Keep Out” sign on our solar system. We suck.

  16. Oh great.. another jealous Canuck taking a swipe at America. Create a list of bad things that happen in any part of the world and isolate them only to the American sector. Puke, puke, puke. But I would expect no less from the pseudo-intellectual liberals of the world. If not for America, Germany would still own Europe, Berlin would have fallen to the communist, Milosovic would still be gooes stepping in the Balkans, you would not have this web page (we created the internet), you would not have met your wife because she would be a north korean, the list goes on and on. Are we perfect? Certainly not. But I think overall, we have handled the leadership of being the strongest country in the world well.

  17. I’m happy for you. No, really. But the fact that you choose to hide behind a veil of anonymity makes it easy for me to ignore you.
    (Of course, anonymity these days is vastly overrated, and from your IP address with your ISP, Deutsche Telekom AG, I can tell more about you than you’d probably like.)

  18. America is a dangerous place to live. There is no doubt about that. The phrase “to hell in a hand basket comes to mind”. If you want to praise America for defeating the Nazis you may want to reconsider that. Preston Bush, the Bush family GrandPappy, helped Hitler finance his war machine. So essentially we Americans helped create the mess we went over there to solve. Fast forward to the year 2002 and we are repeating the same old story. G.W. Bush Sr. helps create “terrorists” in the middle east and now we are spending billions of dollars and killing innocent people again.
    Nothing makes me madder than hearing an American say, “why do they hate us?” They hate us for good reasons. It isn’t because they are envious of our “freedom”, MTV, MTV2, or Hollywood. They hate us because we support Democracy when we feel like it and only if it benefits us. Dictators? We love them if they are giving us oil.

  19. Come on Wonder chicken. It almost sounds like you wish this person harm. If you are going to debate on the internet don’t be so thin skinned.

  20. i think i just got cyber-goose bumps. scary scary.

  21. It almost sounds like you wish this person harm. If you are going to debate on the internet don’t be so thin skinned.
    How do you get that from what I said? Harm? Bah. In the same way perhaps that one wishes a mosquito that one swats harm, maybe…

  22. Actually, now I’m annoyed. Eyeballkid and I have a debate upthread, completely free of acrimony, and now because I deliver a (very) light slap to some cretin who shows up and delivers a troll like ‘Puke puke puke wooo America #1!’, I’m thin-skinned?
    The hell with Pukeboy. I’ll leave his puerile screed up, but I won’t waste my time trying to respond. There was no call to ‘debate’ in his words : just an ad-hominem flailing, which would have been easily ignored if not for the (well-intentioned but unnecessary) admonitions of my new anonymous pal.
    How’s that grab ya, Anonymous Bugger? This is my place, and I’ll behave precisely the way my whims dictate, thanks. If you think that I’m somehow responsible for ‘debating’ with some drooling halfwit who does the textual equivalent of dropping a burning paper bag full of dogshit on my doorstep and ringing the bell, I’ve got some news for you, amigo.

  23. btw.. i dig your web page. very cool layout and design. didn’t mean to get you all stirred up. but you opened yourself up to it when you are critical of others. as an american, i am disgusted at alot of things our government does. but i only have one vote.. and when my vote goes the other way and i lose.. i have to wait another 4 years to try again.. when i lived in korea.. i had to endure alot of canadian teachers spewing nonsense at pubs in itaewon.. got sick of it. and of course.. that lovely commercial that canada had several years ago taking a swipe at the US too.. something about the beaver being a noble animal. at any rate.. we are your neighbor and have no ill feelings toward you.. we would like the same in return.. that isn’t too much to ask.

  24. Fair enough, Pukester. I understand where you’re coming from.

  25. Uh, I know this is a bit late and off topic, but I’ve been doing a little research and wanted to respond to Shannon’s first comment regarding American Barbecue. It appears that we’re not the top barbecue nation, but according to the 2001 World Federation Barbeque Society Rankings, we’re actually number 6, right behind Uraguay. Here’s the top 10 list:
    World Federation Barbeque Society Rankings
    1. United Kingdom
    2. Mexico
    3. Finland
    4. Italy
    5. Uruguay
    6. United States
    7. Germany
    8. Japan
    9. Taiwan
    10. Dominican Republic

  26. I want a fucking recount. And also, I want fishrush to get a hobby. Actually, I’d like to see Wonderchicken get riled up a little more, as well.
    “If you think that I’m somehow responsible for ‘debating’ with some drooling halfwit who does the textual equivalent of dropping a burning paper bag full of dogshit on my doorstep and ringing the bell, I’ve got some news for you, amigo.”
    Fuck yeah.
    That is all.

  27. you go people theses sick bastards shouldnt even be living at this monment they should die in pain n neva be seen or heard of again! i hate theses types there shit bang mother fuckers n i hate them. i wish someone would lock em up for good so they neva see light again. burn in hell mother fuckers! BURN!!!
    peace out!

  28. It’s unbelievable that after seeing such mind boggling, even if they are perhaps blown up, stats that so many people can joke and speack so selfishly BAFFALES me!! You people exemplify the selfishness that create problems like molestation, and rape…I’m sure that most of you are in the percentage of people that havn’t YET been affected! SHame on you!

  29. You and I both know, Gentle Reader, that the only real BBQ in the world is over at Rick and Shincha’s house over by Lake Texoma.
    And I’m pretty sure that 98% of those who disagree are just “ig’nint”…
    Seriously tho’, complaining that the streets in America aren’t paved in gold is tantamount to support for those we fight against.
    So go ahead and support the Taliban and the way they beat and tortured women to death ( And go ahead and support Saddam and his graves of mass murder (400,000+/- found thus far).
    I’m sure you can justify Bush and the US Army being worse if you try really, really hard…
    Now, I’m concerned about the WMD (heck even Bill Clinton said they were there); but as you rant about those evil Americans, think about the 129 Iraqis rescued from a dungeon that had been bricked over… buried alive after Saddam’s sons were done raping them…
    And if one of your sisters or cousins or schoolmates had been among them, tell me that wasn’t worth it…

  30. “Seriously tho’, complaining that the streets in America aren’t paved in gold is tantamount to support for those we fight against.”
    No, idiot. Criticizing America is the most important duty of citizenship. (I am not American, thank god.)
    It is tantamount to supporting the Talibans of this world to sit back and say ‘Mah country raght or wrong’ and ‘I support mah president no matter what’ and so on. It is destroying America, and letting those who would hijack what’s good there have a free run. It’s stupid, and cowardly, and pathetic, and undemocratic.
    Criticize your country, for fuck sakes. It makes it stronger. And if it makes it weaker, then you know the problems are even deeper than you thought.
    Criticize your leaders, before they steal your childrens’ future entirely.

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