Monday, January 10, 2011

Who is Jared Lee Loughner?

This is the best analysis to date on the web of Jared Loughner's motivations:

"At this early stage, I think Loughner is probably best described as a mentally ill or unstable person who was influenced by the rhetoric and demonizing propaganda around him. Ideology may not explain why he allegedly killed, but it could help explain how he selected his target.

One thing that seems clear is that Giffords, who was terribly wounded but survived, was the nearest and most obvious representative of “the government” that Loughner could find."

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Even if Jared Loughner acted alone, he heard the rhetoric!

In the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, we must end the violent rhetoric that has exploded in American politics. Violent rhetoric has consequences. As stated by Sady Doyle:

It does not matter whether the man who shot Giffords was schizophrenic. There are a lot of schizophrenics who don’t shoot people!

What matters is this: That if you create a culture of violence, if you inflame anger (that’s fine to do, and often necessary!) and direct it toward specific targets (that’s fine to do, and often necessary!) and then point people in the direction of physical violence including gun violence as a solution, someone is going to take your word on that.

Someone is going to be vulnerable enough to your message to take you at your word and shoot someone, because they are:
  • Young
  • Stupid
  • Drunk
  • High
  • Just got dumped and full of rage that needs somewhere to go
  • Just got fired and full of rage that needs somewhere to go
  • Socially disempowered or disenfranchised, and (especially — in my experience — if they are white men, who are not taught to expect or deal with being socially disempowered) full of rage that needs somewhere to go
  • Poisoned by a toxic variety of masculinity that equates manhood with power and power with violence
  • Very unhappy and self-destructive
  • Isolated and unloved and willing to get attention by any means possible, even negative attention
  • Or just not thinking right, in some very rare cases due to mental illness, but with the above factors probably contributing, or else THEY ARE JUST NOT THINKING RIGHT
SOMEONE IS GOING TO HEAR THAT, AND IT IS GOING TO RESONATE IN THEIR MINDS THE WRONG WAY. I am all for anger; I am all for, even, pointing at someone and saying “here is a person to be angry at!” What I am not a fan of is going, “do you know what would help with your anger? Second amendment remedies. Guns, they will help with your anger.”

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Now we're talking --- James Galbraith goes against the tide

In my mind I have been questioning the wisdom of raising the retirement age for receiving full Social Security benefits, which seems to be the Beltway CW. Why force people who often won't live a long time to continue working, or in many cases, fruitlessly looking for work, until age 67, 68 or more? Here's an excerpt from Now we're talking --- James Galbraith goes against the tide.

The most dangerous conventional wisdom in the world today is the idea that with an older population, people must work longer and retire with less....

Older people who would like to retire and would do so if they could afford it should get some help. The right step is to reduce, not increase, the full-benefits retirement age. As a rough cut, why not enact a three-year window during which the age for receiving full Social Security benefits would drop to 62 -- providing a voluntary, one-time, grab-it-now bonus for leaving work? Let them go home! With a secure pension and medical care, they will be happier. Young people who need work will be happier. And there will also be more jobs. With pension security, older people will consume services until the end of their lives. They will become, each and every one, an employer.