The only thing we have to fear…

The Cato institute has a short paper pointing out that most of the harm done by terrorism comes from our over-reaction to it (in terms of money diverted to security from more meaningful programs, additional hassle and fearful customers staying away) than the miniscule amount of damage that a terrorist attack itself delivers in terms of damage or loss of life. (For example, the paper points out that “in almost all years, the total number of people worldwide who die at the hands of international terrorists anywhere in the world is not much more than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States.”

It seems to me I’ve heard this idea somewhere before:

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

We need words like these today as much as we did then, from the highest of offices to the local community.

(via Boing Boing via Schneier)