I was listening to the BBC World News this morning, the podcast I start my day with. It began “In the latest school shooting in the U.S….” They have become so routine in our country that the rest of the world isn’t even surprised anymore. Oh, it’s just “the latest” shooting in the US. Stories like this must really sound strange in countries like England, where people don’t have guns. How barbaric do we have to get, how many people have to die here, how far do we have to devolve, before we are even allowed to discuss the merits of guns in the U.S. Of course before 2008 the Right was apoplectic that if Obama was elected he would “take away our guns!” Well, all he has done is sign legislation allowing you to carry concealed weapons into our national parks. And now they’re at it again. If he is reelected, they say, he’ll take away our guns. Really? If that was his agenda, wouldn’t he have done it, and not assumed that he’d be reelected? I know I’ve said before that the pundits who push that don’t really believe it; they just know how to push the buttons of their followers. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has already said that if only more students were carrying guns then this wouldn’t have happened. I guess you could make the case that would be true. If, that is, everyone was required to own and carry a gun, everyone was required to get training in how to use a gun, everyone was required to regularly practice shooting their gun, everyone was trained in how to recognize a threat and how to respond. If all that happened maybe fewer people would be killed by crazies. And maybe a lot more would die as a lot more bullets started to fly. And it of course gives rise to the question; Is that really the kind of world we want to live in? I don’t want to ask it too loud, out of fear that too many of us will say yes.
Yesterday being a Monday, I thought of the 30 year old Boomtown Rats song “,” about another California school shooting in 1979. I really wish songs like this could go out of style and not be needed.
An addendum to yesterday’s post on money. A couple key points made in the This American Life story that I neglected to mention. They report on a 2010 congressional race in California, where a Democrat was running in a strong Republican district. He was behind by 18 points in the polls early on, and spent months campaigning, going door to door, talking to people, holding meetings with voters. You know, what they call retail democracy. He closed the gap to 8 points in the last couple weeks before the election, and was closing. He may or may not have won, and Karl Rove wasn’t going to take any chances, so in the last week of the race, his PAC blanketed the TV airwaves with hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative ads. The average TV viewer would see the ad a minimum of 16 times that week. The polls quickly showed the Republican back with a double digit lead, and he went on to win. And we have to remember that of the 56 (I could be off slightly and it was around that) congressional races that Rove and his PAC targeted and spent large money on in 2010, they won all but one of the races. Still think money doesn’t influence our politics?
They also look at results of lobbyists spending. If you open a savings account you will get at most a 1% return. The now jailed for life Ponzi schemer Bernie Maddoff promised his investors a 10% return. They report on a lobbyist, as an example, one of almost countless examples, where they spent or threatened to spend money to influence bills and tax policy. And what return did they get on their investment? 2200%. Yes, twenty-two hundred percent. Until or unless we find a way to get money out of our politics, I’m not sure how much anything else we discuss even matters.