It is a new year, and as we consider whom to vote for in this presidential election, the state of our economy, our environment, our society and culture, and the world and our place in it, let us consider some facts which may put the remarkable and unprecedented time in which we live into some perspective.

In America, the land of the free, we have 2.2 million people in prison, roughly 3.1% of our population. This is the highest percentage of any country in the world. Further, 25% of the world’s prisoners are in America, while America represents only 5% of the world’s population. China, with a population of 1 billion, more than three times our own, has only 1.5 million people in prison.

The United States spends roughly $623 billion on military expenses and on 737 foreign military bases in 130 countries. China has the second highest military budget in the world, an estimated $65 billion a year. Russia, the third biggest spender, spends $50 billion a year. The combined military spending of every country in the world other than the US is $500 billion, $123 billion less than US spending.

The richest 1% of the world owns 40% of the wealth, and one half of the world owns, combined, no more than 1% of the wealth.

For the first time in US history 20% of American children born in into poverty.

The UN Estimates that for a total cost of $4 billion a year for 15 years, world hunger can be eliminated. 35,000 people die of starvation every day, roughly 12 times the number of people killed on 9/11. Roughly 75% of them are children.

The West Nile Virus kills an average of 200 people a year.

There were 17,000 murders in this country in 2006.

In 2007 roughly 43,000 people died in car accidents, averaging 118 automobile deaths a day in this country. In two days the number of automobile deaths exceeded West Nile deaths for a year.

In 2007, 14 people died by having a vending machine fall on them. You are 14.2 times more likely to die of West Nile than by having a vending machine land on you.

The leading cause of death for a white American male is heart disease. For a black American male it’s homicide.

In the 15 years since Osama Bin-Laden declared it a Muslim’s obligation to kill any and all Americans there have been a number of attacks and attempted attacks on America, including the first world trade center bombing (designed to knock one tower into the other and resulted in 6 deaths), a plot to blow up 6 airplanes over the Atlantic simultaneously, a plot to assassinate Clinton, the Millennium plots, and multiple bombings in Yemen and South Africa.. In those 15 years they have killed about 3,000 Americans, an average of 157 people a year.

Currently the population of the world is about 6 billion people. This is greater than the sum total of all the human beings ever to have lived. In the year 1930 it was only 2 billion, in 1800 there were only 1 billion, and in the year 1 A.D. there were 300,000 million people alive in the world – roughly the same number of people living in the US today.

Since the dawn of man to roughly the 1800’s, the average human lifespan was about 35 years old. Today, in America, for the first time in history, the average human lifespan is 82 years old.

The worst Polio outbreak in the world was in 1952 in the United States with 58,000 cases, 21,000 people paralyzed and 3,000 people dead – a total of 254,000 people were paralyzed by the disease by 1977. After a vaccine is found in 1955 the World Health Organization vows to eradicate polio from the face of the planet. There were only 1900 polio cases in 2006 and only 922 reported to date for 2007, the vast majority coming from India and Nigeria with less than 100 coming from elsewhere.

90% of people think their driving skills are above average.

26.2 Percent of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. One quarter of those have a serious mental disorder. The United States leads the world in mental illness per capita.

Roughly ½ of Americans believe that as of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam Husain did have Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The average presidential primary campaign costs $75 million or more. After that, the average presidential campaign costs an additional $75 million.

Thank you, and have a wonderful 2008


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