The annual murder rate here in Canada is down. In fact, it’s at its lowest for something like fifty years. The same is true for three of the biggest cities in the United States. Sadly, this does not mean that North America has become a gentler kinder place. I’ve been out of the news business for a couple of years, so my finger isn’t on the pulse of society to the same extent as it used to be. The media has always been accused of scare-mongering and frightening people with tales of violence and mayhem outside their doors. When I heard the American news I thought that maybe society isn’t as violent as the media makes out. But then it turned out that what the Canadians call aggravated assault is way up. The murder rate is only down because advances in life-saving surgery and medical care are keeping people alive who used to be dead. An attack which 20 years ago would have resulted in a murder charge now attracts attempted murder, or even more likely, serious or aggravated assault charges. That got me thinking about Afghanistan. In the casualty adverse climate which exists in the western democracies, Governments hate to fly home body bags. It used to be that for every dead soldier, there would be about four wounded. But that rule of thumb has gone out of the window. Governments have been spending a lot of money keeping soldiers alive who not so long ago would have dead. The spectrum has jumped to the left. Soldiers who used die from their injuries are kept alive in a permanent vegetative state, soldiers who previously would have been vegetative are now in rehab and so-on. The good news is that guys who a couple of years back would never have had a hope of walking again are up and about. The rules have changed when it comes to calculating the human cost of war and it must be tempting for governments to fiddle the books. Few families will pull the plug on their loved one voluntarily.