Regarding Barry Evans' column on "The Good Old Days?" (May 19), I would add a third "great evil" on which our country was built: unrestrained resource consumption, damage and waste.
In just a few hundred years, the non-indigenous peoples who settled the U.S. wreaked unfathomable devastation on our landscape and its inhabitants. Immense forests were cleared, streams were irreparably damaged, superabundant animals were driven to extinction or nearly so, huge expanses of prairie were converted to cropland, enormous amounts of topsoil were lost ... The list goes on and on and on.
The original, "indigenous" settlers surely would've done the same if they'd had the technology, but they didn't. Our current environmental regulations, while far from perfect, are a huge step forward in reducing the ecological costs of "progress."
Mr. Evans incorrectly used the word "lifespan" where he meant "life expectancy." There's no such thing as an "average lifespan" unless you're considering multiple species. Lifespan is the maximum potential lifetime of a member of a given species, set by the longest-lived individual of that species. Life expectancy is the average lifetime of individuals of a species or population and can be expressed over an entire lifetime (as in a cohort life table) or just a portion thereof (as in a period life table).
Did M. Rousseau really refer to our indigenous ancestors as "nobel savages"? That invokes an amusing image. "This year's Nobel Prize in savagery goes to. ..." Nominate your favorite despot today!
As for the drop in the murder rate ... Well, there are just so many more people to kill now, it's hard to keep up.
Ken Burton, Arcata