by Reid Fitzsimons
The worldwide annual rate of motor vehicle related deaths is apparently 17.4 per 100,000. The highest rate is in Africa at 26.6, Honduras at 17.4, and the US at 10.6 per 100,000. In general, and the reasons are numerous, there is a higher rate in so-called third world countries than in the “first world.”
So what does this have to do with anything? I know Honduras very well, and can state unequivocally that it is common and typical for any number of people to hop in the back of pick-up trucks and go barreling down the pothole laden two-lane corridors of death which is their national highway system. I’ve done it myself enough times and it is probably one of the worst practices in regards to vehicular safety, but no one bats an eye, including the cops. It is, however, illegal in Honduras to drive while smoking, using a cell phone, and to not wear a seatbelt. For those who know the New Testament this might bring to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
I am, of course, not privy to the legislative machinations of governments that are perpetual recipients of foreign aid but have a theory when it comes to laws that concentrate on a speck of dust but ignore the gaping eye wound. Somewhere in the comfort of the US or European Union there are politicians or non-profit progressive special interest groups who can’t imagine the entire world doesn’t share their concerns and values, anti-smoking activists for example (what enlightened person doesn’t want to have a group for whom they can show contempt?). While somewhere there is perhaps a legitimate goal of improving health, their focus becomes the means, not the result, and even the most oblique attack on their target is justified. Hence, a well-funded organization can perhaps influence the pertinent foreign policy people and say, “It would be a righteous thing if we could demand other countries pass anti-smoking laws.” Attach a little bit of foreign aid, ostensibly to help enact the law and, Que Bueno, the money goes into some corrupt politicians pocket and there is an essentially meaningless new law just waiting to be broken.