US Election 2016: Introduction And Potential Body Count(Thanks Michael W. Busch)

In my post Why I’m Here I started with the following paragraph: Why does this blog exist? First of all, the name: it comes from Jeremy Beahan of the Reasonable Doubts Podcast. “Before you identify yourself as a Republican or a Democrat; before you identify as a Christian or a Jew; before you identify as anything, identify yourself — think of your primary identity as a seeker oftruth.Put that first above anything else. Then whatever is worthy should follow that.” Previous to this quote in the podcast Beahan said it’s important that we have the courage to seek opposing viewpoints; to listen to the other side. Thus, I hope this blog won’t be a liberal, conservative, or libertarian blog; it won’t be a Christian blog; it will be a blog for all seekers of truth — black, white; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu; conservative, liberal, libertarian; cisgendered and straight as well as LGBTQIAP+. 

We need to apply this to the election here in USA. I’m starting this series so that we can go beyond the clichés, hype, logical fallacies, cognitive biases, heuristics, slogans, insults, and Prophetic Claims (TM). We need to do the hard work of looking at what the candidates say and mean, and assessing the impact these policies will have.

In order to do this, I’m going to be posting the views of people from a variety of positions. If you’re interested in presenting your case, please let me know in the comments or by email. Remember, the views of the people I post do not necessarily reflect my own.

The first view is a comment from the blog Love, Joy, Feminism by Michael W. Busch on the potential deaths that will result from the policies of the candidates:

 I have lately been evaluating political candidates primarily based on the expected body-count of the policies that they promote.

I went through policy statements of US presidential candidates as indexed at… ; focusing their policies regarding ACA, reproductive healthcare access, environment, gun control, and immigration.

I ended up with the following estimates in terms of bodycount, counting US residents only:

Clinton+Kaine: Approximately status quo.

Johnson+Weld: status quo + 55,000 excess deaths in 4 years.

Trump+Pence: status quo + >60,000 excess deaths in 4 years (likely >80,0000).

The largest contribution to this calculation is ACA, which saved 50,000 lives in 4 years (… ) and which Johnson and Trump both want to reverse without replacing it with much of anything.

For reproductive healthcare, Pence in particular wants to block access completely – despite that causing ~10,000 excess deaths in 4 years. Johnson+Weld would deny many but not all US residents reproductive healthcare access.

Trump’s anti-immigration policy would kill a lot of people if it were implemented, some directly and some because it would cause a recession; which is deadly in places without universal healthcare (… ). That’s the “likely +20,000 deaths” part.

So, I am left wondering why those policies would kill tens of thousands of people is not a large part of US election coverage.


I have many disagreements with Jill Stein; but if the policies she and the Green Party promote were implemented, they would save a great many lives relative to the status quo – perhaps -50,000 deaths in 4 years. That’s due to ACA being only half-way to actual universal healthcare from how things were in the US pre-ACA; and due to better environmental policies being good for everyone.

I didn’t include Stein or the other 4th party candidates in the estimates above since they together only add up to 1.6% of the vote in current polling.

If Trump had zero chance of winning the election, voting for Stein could make sense. But he doesn’t. And so harm-reduction says “vote for Clinton”. 

Busch is a planetary astronomer based at the SETI Institute.

Next post in this series will explain why I’m in the #NeverTrump camp.


Published by


Christian, freethinker, believer, skeptic, seeker.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s