I'm suggesting that the following are the three biggest issues that directly affect our lives as average middle-class Americans -- all issues on which the candidates are completely silent. How can you disagree?
3) Nuclear weapons. After the Cold War both America and Russia dismantled a large portion of their nuclear arsenals. That should make us feel better, right? But both the U. S. and Russia still have about 7,000 nuclear weapons. France, China, the U.K., Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea also have nuclear weapons.
North Korea recently tested its fourth nuclear weapon, claimed to be an H-bomb, which is a thousand times more powerful than an A-bomb. North Korea already has the capability to threaten South Korea, Japan, China and other nearby countries, and it is currently trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile to reach the mainland United States. So, Mr. or Mrs. presidential candidate, what are you going to do about North Korea?
Meanwhile, both Russia and the U. S. are testing smaller, more sophisticated nuclear weapons that could be delivered by precision-guided missiles. Russia's working on a nuclear-tipped torpedo. And evidence suggests that ISIS and other terrorist groups are attempting to get their hands on a nuclear device. For all these reasons, according to The Week magazine, the so-called Doomsday Clock, the symbolic countdown to Armageddon, last year was advanced from 11:55 p.m. to 11:57 p.m. -- or three minutes to total worldwide destruction.
Worldwide, pollution kills more than 5 million people a year, most of them in India and China, but a significant number in Europe and America as well. The estimate is that air pollution (forget water pollution from lead pipes like those in Flint, Mich., or any other sources) kills "almost 80,000 Americans every year." And that doesn't even count climate change and the potential threats to weather, agriculture and our entire way of life brought to us by global warming.
Believe me, if Spanish-language immigrants, or Muslim terrorists or lone-wolf gunmen were killing 80,000 Americans every year, there would be an uproar. We'd be building a wall around everything!
3) Automobile accidents. Traffic fatalities went down for many years, due mostly to seat belts and air bags, so why should we worry about this? Because every day when you climb into your car you go out on the highway to face other drivers who speed, tailgate, change lanes without signaling, pass on the right, roll through stop signs, weave in and out of traffic, text and talk on the phone, and eat and put on makeup while they are driving.
Car accidents are the biggest and most immediate threat to life and limb for average Americans. There were still over 32,000 fatalities on the road in 2014, and now, last year, the downtrend has been reversed. According to the National Safety Council some 38,000 Americans were killed, and another 4.4 million injured, on U. S. roads in 2015. It was the largest one year percentage increase in half a century.
They say risks that are familiar to us, like dying in a car accident, are less scary than unfamiliar risks, such as dying in a terrorist shooting. As tragic as those shootings are, in the past decade fewer than 10 Americans per year have been killed by terrorists, compared to some 35,000 a year in car accidents.
In over ten years of war about 2,500 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan. In Iraq there were about 4,500 Americans killed. I don't mean to minimize the tragic deaths in Afghanistan or Iraq. I mean to make us all more aware of the tragic deaths on the Americans roads, as well as the problems of pollution and nuclear weapons. And I wonder, is there anything the politicians -- or anyone else for that matter -- can do about it all?