In “CitizenFour,” Edward Snowden leaked multiple files from the government to emphasize the lack of privacy citizens all over the country obtain. Snowden believed everyone should know the information that the government has on them and was notably disturbed by the lack of privacy in the United States. As I watched the documentary, I continually thought “why?” Why did Snowden feel the need to leak this information. Why does it matter? Why is everyone freaking out?
As a government employee and future Army officer, I like the idea of the government erring on the side of national security rather than privacy rights. Every day there are people across the country that put their lives on the line for the safety of others. As a child, I watched my dad leave for work everyday to a job saving the lives of other, but who’s looking out for him. It is nice to know that the government is aiding in the safety of these people. Maybe the security appeals to me because I feel safer or maybe because I have nothing to hide, but ultimately, I’d rather the government invade my privacy for my own security.
According to CBS news, only 40% of people in the United States would agree with my stance on the government erring on the national security side. After Snowden leaked governmental data, 6 out of 10 people disapproved of the government collecting phone records of citizens of the United States. Although many believed it was wrong to collect phone records of “ordinary people,” how do we know people are ordinary? I know the saying that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but sometimes “ordinary people” are not so ordinary. In order to provide national security, the government must monitor every single citizen in the United States, not just the ones suspected of terrorism. Everyone wants to feel safe, but there will be a cost and they must evaluate what is more important to them: security or privacy. I choose security.
As I was outlining my response for this blog post, I realized I make little to no economic decisions. I do not spend money because I do not have to and spending money gives me major anxiety. I save nearly every penny I earn and do not have to pay for food or tuition because of ROTC. I am very fortunate in that manner. I even had enough money to pay off my loan from freshman year. That has been the most significant economic decision I have made recently, but as I looked at the works of Nate Silver and Daniel Kahneman, I did not see myself falling under any of the biases. Maybe I am just turning a blind eye to my poor economic decisions, but I am not seeing it.
Looking at the works of Nate Silver and Daniel Kahneman, significant biases exist when making economic decisions. Silver emphasized the over confidence bias. This bias exist when people are more confident about a situation than the parameters of the situation would permit. Silver gave the example of economic forecasters who only predicted 2 out of the last 60 recessions, yet continue to believe their predictions on the economy are correct. Considering that they were only correct 3.3% of the time, they should not be confident about their economic forecasts, but they are. That is overconfidence.
Kahneman delved into a similar bias with the optimistic bias. The optimistic bias occurs when people take on significant risk even when they have evidence to prove that they will likely fail. Kahneman gave the example of restaurants. Restaurants open all over the country every single day, but 60% of these restaurants are out of business in three years. Looking at the data, most people would think “wow statistically, I will fail,” but people that open these restaurants do not believe that data pertains to them. Many of them believe they have a 70% chance of being successful. That is the exact opposite of what the data tells them. They are victims of the optimistic bias.
When looking at my economic decisions so far in my life, I do not believe I have fallen under any of these biases. Statistically, I will fall under one of these biases, but at the moment I do not make enough economic decisions to do so. In regards to paying off my loan, I decided to pay off my loan because it was rapidly accruing interest and I felt like it would be best to pay it off now with $200+ in interest after 6 months rather than wait as the amount of interest continued to increase. Ultimately, the little amount of economic decisions I have made has limited my biases, which to me is a good thing.
When thinking of human trafficking, I never once considered buying a person an investment. Not only is slavery illegal, but it is morally wrong and any person with a conscious would realize that. That being said, in the eyes of people without a conscious, slave are a huge investment, making those that buy them a significant amount of money. According to Siddharth Kara’s article on Supply and Demand: Human Trafficking in the Global Economy, a slave can be bought for $420 from a pimp. These slaves will then
generate 300-500 percent in annual return on investment. The percent of annual return depends on the industry, but looking at the numbers, slave are a good investment. In a world where consequences for human trafficking are minimal, buyers really have no risk by being involved in human trafficking. How can we combat human trafficking when people all over the world are being rewarded for their investment?
The incentive behind human trafficking needs to be diminished. It’s just like drugs. Drug dealers make thousands off of selling drugs. Why would they stop if they can make more selling drugs than working at some random place? Traffickers mindsets are the same. They make money with little consequences if they get caught. Without the incentive of money, there would be little demand for human trafficking to exist. I do not know how to change the incentive. I cannot think of a way to make coffee farmers lose money from free labor or the pimp lose money from selling people like they are just a piece of property. The demand for trafficking is through the roof and needs to be decreased, but from the looks of the numbers, labor trafficking will continually be in demand if their owners make 300-500 percent in annual return. The consequences of human trafficking must be increased, while finding a way to persecute more traffickers and those who own slaves. If the authorities cannot find the traffickers, an increase in consequences will not have a huge effect on the demand for human trafficking.
As I looked at the numbers behind human trafficking, I could not help but thinking “well of course people will be involved in trafficking.” Trafficking provides a HUGE profit for pimps and those that buy people for labor. Unfortunately, the huge profit leads to the huge demand. It is a never ending cycle of buyers and sellers looking for money. Until the profit involving human trafficking is demolished, trafficking will continue on.
Nearly everyday, a new article pops up on the news about police brutality. Some cop shot and killed an unarmed man. Cops kill again. Everyday people die at the hands of cops, but is it always the cops fault and do cops go out to kill specific races of people? I do not think so, but as seen in new campaigns such as #blacklivesmatter, many people believe otherwise. Not all cops are bad, but there are a few that aid in drawing a bad reputation towards law enforcement. Although there are some instances in which cops use excessive force, not all cases involve excessive force or cop killings based on race. That is just what is seen in the news. Unlawful acts draw a larger crowd to news sources, ultimately bring more money and higher ratings to that source.
As I looked for data on police involved killings, it was difficult to find a source that was not over the top biased. Many of the first options that pop up when you google “police brutality” send you straight to #blacklivesmatter websites. I am not saying that black lives do not matter, but their data obviously stated that police kill more black people than white people. According to Mint Press News, that is technically incorrect. Up until September 2015, police had killed 385 white people which is nearly half of the 776 people killed by police. Although there were technically more white people killed, black people are about two times more likely to be killed than white people or Hispanics based on the percentage of each race in the entire population of the United States.
In the news, the police deaths that are continually top headlines all over the country continually emphasize police killing black people. If I can think back to every story I heard in the last year about police killings that blasted through Facebook or top news outlets, I would say most, if not all, were about police killings of black people. Based on how many times I read these stories compared to similar stories with a different race, I would think that police kill black people much more than two times as much as people of other races. According to Daniel Kahneman, I have fallen to an availability bias. Availability bias is judging frequency by the ease with which instances come to mind. I can think of at least 5 police related killings of black people to maybe one police shooting involving a white person. That makes black people five times more likely to be killed by police, but in reality it only about two times more likely.
Although it is obviously an issue that black people are two times more likely to be killed by police than other races, everything heard on the news must be cross checked with available data so we do not fall under the availability bias. The news puts out stories that will people will listen to, that they can get more viewers off of, and stories they can get more money off of. They do not necessarily put out news stories that show the whole story. All lives matter. Excessive police brutality should be diminished for everyone.
When one thinks of the Super Bowl, human trafficking is not the first thing that comes to mind. Football, commercials, partying are much more likely to be connected with the Super Bowl, but to the shock of many people, the Super Bowl is one of the largest human trafficking events in the country. According to Deseret News, the Super Bowl in 2010 brought in 10,000 prostitutes, many trafficking victim, and in 2011, 133 people were arrested for sex with minors. In the ten days surrounding the big game, the adds for sex trafficking victims spike. Thousands of adds are posted, yet there is no way for police to respond to all of them.
At Super Bowl 50 last week, at least 30 arrests for so alleged solicitation were made and more than 40 possible human trafficking victims were discovered. One person caught in the sting was the Denver Broncos safety Ryan Murphy. Shocking… The Santa Clara Country Sheriff’s Office was preparing for this event and increased their efforts to root out human trafficking and prostitution around the Super Bowl. The year before, almost 600 arrests were made and 68 victims were rescued following a sting centered around the Super Bowl.
The data within the article involving the number of arrests and victims saved was valid because they received the data from the police based on arrests made involving human trafficking, but the data surrounding the number of adds cannot be 100% trusted. Since human trafficking is illegal, it is hard to quantify the sheer amount of human trafficking occurring. It is just impossible to ask every pimp how many victims he or she may have. Unfortunately if the data on the adds is correct, the 40 victims found is only
around 4% of the adds posted all over prior to the Super Bowl. I find the data revolting. It makes sense that pimps will bring their property to a very large event to be sold. They want to make money. Money is everything and they will get money at the Super Bowl, especially considering Super Bowl tickets cost thousands of dollars. If people can afford that, they can afford any victim they want.
As I find more and more data surrounding the epidemic of human trafficking, the more research I want to do, but how? It will be hard. It will be tiresome. It needs to be done. The little statistics known on human trafficking are repulsive. I cannot imagine the sheer disgust found when all encompassing data is found surrounding human trafficking. Hopefully as more data arises, more people start to notice the epidemic and will try to help make a change in the world of human trafficking. Human trafficking is like drugs. The pimp is the drug dealer and the victims are the drugs. The pimps make millions. It is a lucrative field, but it is illegal. It is diminishing to victims. It needs to be stopped.
I posted on legalizing prostitution last week, but in a different context of the possibility of decreasing human trafficking. Based on the data in that post, legalizing prostitution will not decrease human trafficking, but will it decrease the transmission of HIV? HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and is transmitted through body fluids such as semen, blood, vaginal and anal fluids, and breast milk. Although HIV cannot 100% be cured, if diagnosed early an antiretroviral treatment can be used to give an individual a fairly normal and healthy life. So how is HIV connected to prostitution?
HIV is commonly spread through sex without a condom, a common practice within the world of prostitution. According to the Huffington Post, only about 55 % of sex workers use condoms on all of their clients. Many of the sex workers interviewed also stated that their clients may become violent or bribe them with a higher price if the use of a condom is suggested. In a study done in Canada, India, and Kenya, they found that HIV infections decreased between 33 and 46 % in countries where prostitution was legal.
When this study was done in 2014, India was the only country of the three to have legal prostitution. Although prostitution in India is legal, the law does not criminalize prostitutes, but does punish third parties that facilitate prostitution. Assuming that the data provided by the study is accurate, that would mean that the rates of HIV infection within prostitutes in India were 33 to 46 % less than that of prostitutes in Canada and Kenya. Although it seems logical that prostitutes in countries where prostitution is legal tend to use protection because they do not have to rush in order to dodge law enforcement, the Huffington Post article does not have a direct link to where they obtained the data. I wanted to look at the data to try understand how they obtained their data, but I could not find it. This lack of background information on the data makes me hesitant to believe the data or strongly agree that legalizing prostitution will decrease HIV. Like in many studies surrounding prostitution and illegal sex work, more information is needed.
I wanted to do this post on human trafficking and the rates of STIs and pregnancies within the illegal trade. As I tried to find data on the topic, there were very few studies or numbers on the topic. Like many of the articles I found, I was assuming the rates of STIs were very high within the industry, but I wanted to see specific numbers. There weren’t many. The lack of number emphasizes the difficulty in obtaining accurate data surrounding human trafficking. After searching for almost an hour, I decided to look into STIs surrounding prostitution which has many links to human trafficking. There was not much data on prostitution either, but there was enough to look at articles and see the data surrounding the topic. Ultimately, more research needs to be done in regards to the sex work industry, legal and illegal. I still don’t believe prostitution should be legal, but I hope that the more data available, the more people will know about prostitution. The more people know, the closer we can come to eliminating sex work.