John Kenneth Galbraith in a BBC documentary a few decades ago quoted a British statesman with experience in colonial India as saying “Governing men is grand work, the noblest of occupations, though perhaps the most difficult…”. Already back in the last century independent commentators had clearly identified government actions as a leading cause of death among humans, with wars, genocides, famines and other killings piling up the bodies. So perhaps in light of Galbraith’s quote, governing men is difficult in that we really haven’t got it right yet, much as we like to brag about our “democracy” and claim the moral high ground on account of our spreading it to other supposedly less civilized parts of the world.
Jeffrey Tucker, on “Despair and the State”, from the Daily Reckoning blog:
“The sad and tragic story of Andrew Wordes — the chicken farmer who was driven to despair by government harassment and killed himself last month — continues to haunt me. And it turns out to be just one of millions of cases of similar psychological torment caused by government, directly and indirectly. These are wholly unnecessary events, inflicting terrible loss on the world.
For every one person these days who dies fighting in US wars around the world, 25 other soldiers kill themselves. Veterans are killing themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. There are more than 6,500 veteran suicides every year. That’s more than all the American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last 10 years, according to a New York Times analysis. Being a veteran apparently doubles your risk of suicide.
Economic conditions wrought by government policies around the world have contributed to the death toll. Europe is undergoing an epidemic of suicide in countries seriously hurt by the downturn. In Greece, the suicide rate among men increased more than 24% since the disaster hit. In Ireland, male suicides have shot up more than 16%. In Italy, economic-motivated suicides have increased 52%.
The big aggregates reported here do not convey the level of tragedy experienced in the lives of every single individual here. They leave behind shattered families and wrecked communities. There is an unbearably sad story behind every single statistic.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the same is happening in the US and that the broad trend follows economic prospects. The difference between the rising prosperity of a free market and economic desperation caused by government is really a matter of life and death. The desperation and sadness wrought by war — an extension of domestic policy and carried out with much higher stakes — is a symptom of the same problem….”