The two Australian miracles: There are certain facts you hear all the time. Other facts which are very basic will get disappeared.
In an op-ed column in Sunday’s Washington Post, we read a familiar set of facts concerning Australia, an island nation located near New Zealand. Julia Baird wrote about the country’s famous gun buyback and gun regulations.
We highlight the key statistics:
BAIRD (8/25/13): In 1996, after a gunman killed 35 people and wounded 18 others in Port Arthur, a former penal colony turned tourist attraction, Australians collectively decided not to follow what then-Prime Minister John Howard called "the American way" on guns.We’ve heard this story a million times by now. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s a significant story, producing this, our first Australian miracle:
Just 12 days after the massacre, Howard, a conservative, announced that he had convinced Australia's states to ban automatic and semiautomatic weapons and instigated a gun buyback for high-powered and rapid-fire rifles. A uniform system for registering and licensing firearms was introduced.
A third of the guns in Australia were handed in to the government. Polls found that as much as 90 percent of the public approved of the stricter gun laws.
There had been 11 gun massacres in the decade preceding 1996, but there have been no mass shootings since. This is a source of national pride, though statisticians still argue about what caused the change.
Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the Sydney School of Public Health and a specialist in firearm injury prevention, has documented that after the laws were changed, the risk of an Australian being killed by a gun fell by more than 50 percent. Australia's gun homicide rate, 0.13 per 100,000 people, according to GunPolicy.org, is a tiny fraction of that of the United States (3.6 per 100,000 people). It should be noted that our gun homicide rates were already in decline, but the gun laws accelerated that slide.
Gun homicide rates, Australia and the U.S.That’s a striking set of statistics. In the past year, we’ve seen versions of this presentation many times.
United States: 3.6 per 100,000 people
Australia: 0.13 per 100,000 people
(According to that passage by Baird, the gun homicide rate was already much lower in Australia before the buyback and the new policies. But still!)
As far as we know, no one actually calls that the Australian miracle, but many people talk about those statistics. That said, here’s a second set of statistics, a set you’ve never seen:
Health care spending, per person, 2011According to these OECD data, we spend an extra $4708 per person on health care. By how much is a family of four getting looted? Multiply by four!
United States: $8508
As with Finland, so with Australia. In the case of Finland, we constantly hear about the nation’s alleged educational miracle, which isn't very miraculous. But we never hear about the country’s level of spending on health care.
In the case of Australia, the low gun homicide rate is now frequently mentioned. But no one ever asks how the country manages to spend so little on health care, as compared to the crazy spending recorded in the U.S.
The looting of Americans through health care is a forbidden topic. It doesn’t even occur to liberal and progressive journalists to talk about it, despite its massive salience in so many areas.
This looting is a forbidden topic; we can’t really say why that is. Having said that, let us notice this:
Conservatives in red state Oklahoma are getting looted this way, as are liberals in blue state Connecticut. Luckily, the two tribes keep calling each other names, making joint ventures impossible.
This allows the power elite to continue its looting. Divide and conquer has always been the best way!