Half-Staff for Farmers
By David Henderson
Each year, America sets aside a week to salute the men and women who do the difficult, dangerous, and often thankless work of safeguarding our communities. Our Nation’s peace officers embody the very idea of citizenship — that along with our rights come responsibilities, both to ourselves and to others. During Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, we celebrate those who protect and serve us every minute of every day, and we honor the courageous officers who devoted themselves so fully to others that in the process they laid down their lives.
As we mourn the fallen, let us also remember how they lived. With unflinching commitment, they defended our schools and businesses. They guarded prisons; patrolled borders; and kept us safe at home, on the road, and as we went about our lives. To their families, we owe an unpayable debt. And to the men and women who carry their mission forward, we owe our unyielding support.
These are the opening paragraphs of President Obama’s Proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, 2014. Obama goes on to call for having U.S. flags at half mast.
But just how risky is police work? Not as risky as farming.
I’m not going to go all Paul Harvey “So God Made a Farmer” on you, although whenever I hear that, I almost cry. I’m just focusing on what Obama focuses on: fatality rates.
In Aaron Wldavsky and Adam Wildavsky, “Risk and Safety,” in David R. Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, is a table that gives the fatality rate for various occupations. For every 100,000 police, the annual fatality rate is 20. For every 100,000 farmers, it is 40% higher, at 28.