Between the fiscal cliff political panderings and the hilarity being espoused on both sides of the gun control debate, it may well be that the end times are nigh, at least for the US. The republic teeters towards a complete failure in governance.
The NRA has proposed, perhaps taking its lesson from the Fed, whose strategy for dealing with problems caused by excessive liquidity was to increase the amount of excessive liquidity, that the cure for a too heavily armed citizenry is a more heavily armed citizenry. It has recommended that all schools should have armed guards. The cure for gun violence is more guns, but only “in the hands of the good guys” as the NRA puts it. Really.
Bloomberg.com, the web newspaper majority owned by New York’s rabidly anti-gun mayor who fastidiously believes that all social problems, from obesity (restricting the size of fountain drinks) to nicotine addiction (outlawing smoking practically everywhere) can be resolved by government initiative, ran an op-ed article, Daily Gun Slaughter in US Obscured by Newtown Rampage, that effectively blames the murderousness of the polity on the availability of guns. The article even goes so far as to compare the total amount of US gun deaths, in a nation of over 300 million people, with those of Canada, which has about 34 million. I should correct myself, though. The article wasn’t on Bloomberg View, the area where opinion pieces normally run. It ran as a regular news item, as if it is news, and not opinion, that eliminating guns would eliminate murders, suicides and homicides (“homicides” is meant in this context all the deaths caused by humans that aren’t murders or suicides, including those that are justifiable).
In providing the forlorn details of the several other deaths by gun on the day of Newtown’s massacre, the obvious implication was that without guns, these suicides and murders and regular old homicides (one guy was killed by cops when he allegedly brandished a weapon in a scuffle after a traffic stop), would not have happened. Nonsense. Guns are just one of many ways to kill a person, admittedly one which is profoundly efficient and effective, at least partly explaining their popularity in the exercise. But if all the guns in the country were confiscated, people would still kill people, they would just find other means of doing so.
And then the so-called fiscal cliff ominously approaches. House Speaker Boehner had to withdraw his Plan B proposal, up for a vote on the House floor last night, as it was clear it would not have passed. Now things are back at square one. And the contrived emergency becomes more contrived. Obama wanted a deal by today so he could leave for a Hawaii vacation with all this nasty governing mess behind him. He wants a concrete set of proposals on gun control by January 1, the justification for the deadline only he knows–perhaps he wants something to occupy himself when he gets back from holiday. Obama’s deadlines are just contrivances created by him. The fiscal cliff is a contrivance created by Congress with Presidential assistance. Each deadline is pregnant with the conceit that all that is required is some careful tweaking of the levers of government to prevent tragedies like Newtown and to ensure the economic fortunes of a nation of over 300 million. The notion is utter nonsense, but the idea that properly applied government is all that stands between a people and their nirvana is a deeply held myth of the American culture. Grownups, what few there are in America, know better.
About the only reasonably intelligent article I’ve seen on gun control (or really anything lately) in the wake of Newtown came from Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, titled The Roots of Mass Murder. Here’s the lead paragraph:
Every mass shooting has three elements: the killer, the weapon and the cultural climate. As soon as the shooting stops, partisans immediately pick their preferred root cause with corresponding pet panacea. Names are hurled, scapegoats paraded, prejudices vented. The argument goes nowhere.
He goes on to explain that gun control of the sort that is politically viable, i.e., that didn’t include gun confiscation, would do nothing to prevent future such massacres being carried out by guns; that a big reason there are so many mental whackos floating around freely in society, sleeping over heating grates and comprising the vast majority of the homeless is that, “…In the name of civil liberties, we let them die with their rights on…”, and that we have an “anything goes” culture which promotes, particularly in Hollywood, images of rampant violence. In Krauthammer’s words:
If we’re serious about curtailing future Columbines and Newtowns, everything — guns, commitment, culture — must be on the table. It’s not hard for President Obama to call out the NRA. But will he call out the ACLU? And will he call out his Hollywood friends?
Kudos to Krauthammer. One adult among three hundred million children ain’t much, but it’s a start.
It almost seems as if things are spiraling towards some sort of apocalyptic conflict. If the government tried to confiscate all the guns in the wake of Newtown, there literally would be blood in the streets. If the government proves its ineptitude at controlling the entitlement Leviathan threatening fiscal solvency by simply doing nothing until January 1, the realization by the rest of the world that the US has become an ungovernable mess would concussively reverberate throughout the global economy. So maybe the Mayans were off by a few days. Maybe these are the end times, at least for the American experiment in republican governance.