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From:  http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2017/10/whats_killing_u.html

What's killing us? I made the following graph. I include the top ten causes of death in the U.S., plus homicide and illegal drug overdoses, because the latter two are actually discussed in political discourse.


huemer2.jpg

 

Observations:

1. The top causes of death almost never appear in political discourse or discussions of social problems. They're almost all diseases, and there is almost no debate about what should be done about them. This is despite that they are killing vastly more people than even the most destructive of the social problems that we do talk about. (Illegal drugs account for 0.7% of the death rate; murder, about 0.6%.)

2. This is not because there is nothing to be done about the leading causes of death. Changes in diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes can make very large differences to your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other major diseases, and this is well-known.

3. It's also not because it's uncontroversial what we should do about them, or because everybody already knows. The government could, for example, try to discourage tobacco smoking, alcohol use, and overeating, and encourage exercise. There are many ways this could be attempted. Perhaps the government could spend more money on trying to cure the leading diseases. There obviously are policies that could attempt to address these problems, and it would certainly not be uncontroversial which ones, if any, should be adopted. Those who support social engineering by the government might be expected to be campaigning for the government to address the things that are killing most of us.

4. Most of these leading killers are themselves mainly caused by old age. If "Old Age" were a category, it would be causing by far the majority of deaths. Again, it's not the case that nothing could be done about this. We could be doing much more medical research on aging.

5. It's also not that we just don't care about diseases. *Some* diseases are treated as political issues, such that there are activists campaigning for more attention and more money to cure them. There are AIDS activists, but there aren't any nephritis activists. There are breast cancer walks, but there aren't any colon cancer walks.

6. Hypothesis: We don't much care about the good of society. Refinement: Love of the social good is not the main motivation for (i) political action, and (ii) political discourse. We don't talk about what's good for society because we want to help our fellow humans. We talk about society because we want to align ourselves with a chosen group, to signal that alignment to others, and to tell a story about who we are. There are AIDS activists because there are people who want to express sympathy for gays, to align themselves against conservatives, and thereby to express "who they are". There are no nephritis activists, because there's no salient group you align yourself with (kidney disease sufferers?) by advocating for nephritis research, there's no group you thereby align yourself *against*, and you don't tell any story about what kind of person you are.

In conclusion, this sucks. Because we actually have real problems that require attention. If we won't pay attention to a problem just because it kills a million people, but we need it also to invoke some ideological feeling of righteousness, then the biggest problems will continue to kill us. And by the way, the smaller problems that we actually pay attention to probably won't be solved either, because all our 'solutions' will be designed to flatter us and express our ideologies, rather than to actually solve the problems.

***
My Take:
 
He has a point.  But he overstates it.  We care about drug-related deaths not just as a cause of premature death, but because drugs ruin lives.  And as someone points out in the comments, the age at which death occurs is also relevant.
 
These criticisms notwithstanding, he has a point.  And I think we can make the same argument if we focus on violent deaths.  Why do 'muslim' terrorism related deaths get far more media attention than other violent crime related deaths?  Its because many people in the West are aligned with groups such as evangelicals, zionists, anti-religion groups, and focusing on muslim-related violence expresses alignment with these groups, and may also give these groups a sense of legitimacy, as well as helping further their goals.  It's not because these groups care about the good of society.  
Edited by .InshAllah.

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2 hours ago, .InshAllah. said:

Why do 'muslim' terrorism related deaths get far more media attention than other violent crime related deaths?

Make someone else the boogeyman, incite fear, get people to rally around corrupt politicians in hopes that they will keep them "safe", win votes, repeat the cycle, it continues. Real issues never get solved, politicians make a career out of fearmongering, their media acts as their lapdog and that of the military industrial complex which has huge stakes in the media and obviously profits from militarism driven through fear. 

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Gun/Firearm Deaths

About a quarter century ago, the CDC, NIH, and others published the annual causes of death ranking.

ln it, all deaths from guns -murder, accident, suicide- was ranked between blood poisoning and kidney failure.

This observation became embedded into the public discourse. So much so that gun-control/gun-confiscation groups used all favors, pressures and so forth to have firearms deaths not only eliminated from the rankings, but 'calculated differently' (read: confusing the numbers).

Like wise, the FBI identifies a Mass Shooting as one in which 4-or-more people die. The gun control advocates count 2-or-more injured, and counts not only people, but also dogs, a horse if it is hit, and so forth. This is how they lie and preach there have been "274 mass shootings" since the beginning of 2017.

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1 hour ago, Mohamed1993 said:

Make someone else the boogeyman, incite fear, get people to rally around corrupt politicians in hopes that they will keep them "safe", win votes, repeat the cycle, it continues. Real issues never get solved, politicians make a career out of fearmongering, their media acts as their lapdog and that of the military industrial complex which has huge stakes in the media and obviously profits from militarism driven through fear. 

ln 1949, future President Eisenhower made a speech in which he said, "lf you want" care and total security "go to prison". You will have that there.

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