Another tragedy in America, this time in Nebraska. A nineteen-year-young man walked into a mall with his step-father’s assault rifle and killed eight people before killing himself. The young man had a troubled life; the state estimated that it had invested $265,000 on his previous ‘treatment.’ This is not the first troubled youth to wreak havoc on the public.
I put the word ‘treatment’ in quotes because he was obviously not treated for anything important. He has been in court, foster homes, and drug and alcohol rehab. Our populace is so frustrated that we grab at anything to explain the insanity: Breakdown of family, violent video games, no God in schools, no discipline in schools… on and on – and the violence continues.
Like many ailments, there are some things that we have no control over, and some things that we do. Take heart disease for example. A person may be genetically predisposed to heart disease – their father had it, their grandfather had it – it has been a fungus on the family tree for generations and we cannot change that. But there are things we can do – we are not helpless. If we have this history then we should know that we should not smoke tobacco, we should eat fewer fried eggs and bacon, we should exercise.
So what should we do about this rising tide of violence? What are our options? It seems to me that one thing is sure – there will have to be government intervention. Some would say that it is government intervention that has caused the problems – like no prayer in schools, lack of discipline in schools, Bill of Rights protection for criminals, stuff like that. At a gut emotional level these examples sound reasonable – but they are not the source of the problems – and gut emotional responses seldom provide thoughtful solutions.
The NRA would argue that if the shoppers in the mall had all been armed then a shootout at the mall would have produced better results – I won’t even go there.
The societal problems should be looked at through a wide angle lens. The inequitable distribution of wealth we are witnessing in America today has historically been at the root of individual and organized revolt. This would be a good place to start with a societal fix. Our local Chamber of Commerce brags in brochures to potential businesses that our labor force is paid 17% less than the state average. BRAGS! Like this is something to brag about. The great economic booms in our community in the past ten years have been a state run prison, a youth detention center, and a pork plant that imports illegal immigrants.
I have written before about my disdain for our current corrupt and inept mental health system. I argue in favor of banning assault rifles. And fixing these problems are crucial – but they are band aids in comparison to the larger picture of the economic pressures our society has placed on the working class.
Low wages, consumer debt, material expectations, middle-ages religious mentality, and the necessity of two income families all contribute to a state of despair and isolation.
It really is about economic distribution.