News reports can make the world seem like a terrifying place, and sometimes it is.

The recent food poisoning outbreak traced to a Michigan processing plant has many citizens concerned about their families’ health.

But the good news is that despite the mass media’s tendency to sensationalize tragedies, the world is much safer today than at any time in history. Consider these facts.

In 1998, 615 million Americans flew on 14 million commercial airline flights, but not one passenger died in a plane crash.

Between 1990 and 1997, the national murder rate plummeted by 40 percent. The death rates for everything from AIDS to drunken drivers to nuclear accidents are all down—in some cases, they’re way down.

Polio was a frequent killer of Americans in the 1930s, but in 1997, there wasn’t a single reported case of the disease in the United States. In most cases, new advances in science and technology, not new laws and regulations, accomplished these tremendous gains in human safety and well being.

Publicizing gruesome tragedies may sell newspapers, but the real scoop is that more Americans than ever are living longer and healthier lives.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.

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