Let’s Fix Things, For A Change

It’s become a ritual: Someone’s rampage shooting hits the news, the Left screams “AR-15!”, the Right sends “Thoughts and Prayers”, and nothing changes.

This time, like all the others, it turns out it was a mentally ill person who was nursing a grudge.

Pick your news; pick your poison: MSNBC is blaming Republicans. Fox News is blaming the Trans Agenda. Gun control activists are blaming the NRA. The NRA is blaming Democrats. The Not Fake News is blaming — you guessed it! — YOU.

Yes, you. You The People, the American voting public, which has a collective IQ south of room temperature and all the initiative and daring that God gave the common oyster. You, who are so busy rooting for Left or Right that you’ve forgotten what it is to be human. I dare you: Look at the results of our past dozen elections and tell me I’m even the slightest bit wrong.

Yet another perfectly predictable tragedy has happened. The Left, once again, is practically frothing at their collective mouths over the idea of banning guns; the Right, as always, recoils in fear at the potential loss of personal liberties. And nothing will get done. All that’s changed is that seven more people are dead.

I’d tell you what I honestly think of the American voters, except that God doesn’t need to damn us. We’ve done a solid job of that on our own.

People die. It’s what we do; we’re very good at it. Considering all the shock and outrage that comes from this, or the deaths of dozens of detained migrants in a fire, the dozens killed in tornadoes and floods and earthquakes, it’s a bit surprising to realize that these are tiny fractions of our annual easily-preventable early deaths in this country. Uninsured diabetics die all the time from a lack of insulin; the homeless freeze to death on our streets; thirty thousand gun owners shoot themselves and forty-five thousand Americans die every year in auto accidents.

And it’s not that we don’t care; we do, perhaps more here than in any other nation. A Bangladeshi friend once observed to me that hundreds of people die in bus accidents in the mountains every year, and it’s just accepted as a part of life; there’s no crusade to widen the roads or improve vehicle safety. The Chinese are slaughtering their native Uighur population and it’s considered “an internal problem”. Russians are sending captured Ukrainian kids to be raised in Russia in the thousands; the rote response on Twitter is, “Yeah, but what about Palestine?” And, for that matter, what about Palestine?

The AR-15 and similar rifles are used in fewer than 1% of fatal shootings; the weapon of choice by rampage shooters is actually the far more deadly 9mm Glock-17. There’s no call to ban Glocks; people can easily understand that there are other types of handgun out there, and that getting rid of one will only increase sales of another. Oddly, that connection isn’t made when it comes to the discussion of “assault rifles”, though it’s equally valid.

But none of that is really germane.

One of the oft-repeated mantras of the Republicans is that “It’s not a gun issue; it’s a mental health issue.” Which is true, but Republicans are always among the first to slash public health care budgets. To be fair, there’s blame enough to spread; Democrats are so enamoured of the idea of banning guns that they often don’t bother to fight for mental health. It’s one of the few things we can all agree on, so why don’t we fix it?

Let me be clear: We need to.

Right now, the socially unwanted are being warehoused in emergency rooms and jails across the country because, thanks to COVID rules, they can’t legally be removed without a designated shelter to send them to. Hospitals have become a convenient dumping ground for the elderly, for foster kids with behavior problems, and for the mentally ill in general, and they stay there for months because there are no beds open in mental hospitals. The problem is less severe these days not because beds are opening up, but rather because COVID rules have eased. (Source: Personal interviews and Yelp reviews, plus the Mark I Eyeball)

At this moment, Extended Stay America hotels in D.C. and Maryland have been rented by local governments to serve as warehouses for the homeless, for refugees, and for the mentally ill. Montgomery County, MD, which has an annual budget greater than that of most Central American countries combined, cannot afford mental health facilities but can lease entire hotels and provide free Continental breakfasts and weekly cleaning. (Source: Personal interviews and TripAdvisor reviews, plus the Mark I Eyeball)

None of this ever makes the news. It’s not sexy. AR-15s are sexy; the homeless and mentally ill are not.

Folks, this is something we can all agree on. We’ll never agree on gun bans; we’ll never agree on the AR-15. The Second Amendment won’t be repealed and they will never come for your guns — or at least not today, not tomorrow, and certainly not after the next election or the next or the next. So, just for the moment, let’s stop talking about things we can’t fix and instead explore things we can.

Let’s set a target, to open up a hundred thousand new beds in mental health care facilities this year. Let’s make it a national priority and dedicate massive funds to the endeavor.

We are the richest country on the face of the Earth, at the richest point in human history, living at the peak of scientific achievement and the pinnacle of endeavor. At the same moment, hotels and office buildings are failing everywhere due to lack of tenants thanks to the success of Working From Home. We can pay for this out of pocket change.

Or we can play the same blame game that got us Trump v. Biden, Trump v. Clinton, Bush v. Gore, and dozens of other contests between the two worst candidates known to man.

What’s it to be: Working policies, or politics as usual?

[Voiceover: The answer, of course, was: Politics as usual.]

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  1. Fab
    Great post! It’s refreshing to see someone cutting through the partisan blame game and suggesting real solutions. I completely agree that mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed, and the idea of opening up more mental health care facilities is a fantastic goal. My question is, how do you propose we fund this massive endeavor? Would it be through reallocating funds from other areas, such as law enforcement or military spending, or through implementing new taxes? Thank you for the thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be frank, this is an expense that would pay for itself in short order, rather like installing double-glazing or insulation at your home. The cost of housing thousands of homeless or mentally ill in jails, emergency rooms, and hotels is not negligible. Moreover, nearly a third of the initial expense would be recovered through transaction taxes, payroll, and so on during the first year.

      However, I’m not opposed to raising taxes to gain the initial funding.


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