By Jim Poling Sr.
It’s refreshing to hear a politician say what he or she is thinking, rather than just tonguing to lick up votes.
“It begs the damn question: what the hell is going on in the United States of America?” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said following the massacre of nine people in last week’s rail yard shooting.
That was just after the San Jose killings last Wednesday, but just before Sunday’s shooting of two dozen people at a Miami rap party.
“What the hell is wrong with us, and when are we going to come to grips with this?” he asked. “When are we going to put down our arms – literally and figuratively – our politics, stale rhetoric, finger-pointing, all the hand wringing, consternation that produces nothing except more fury and frustration … over and over and over again?”
Exactly. What is wrong with Americans and America, a madhouse of “rinse and repeat” cycle of mass shootings now averaging roughly 1.5 a day, based on figures supplied by the U.S. Gun Violence Archive? The archive defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more persons are shot and killed or wounded.
There have been roughly 18,000 gun deaths in the U.S. this year to date, more than 600 of them children 17 or younger. Just under 1,500 other children have been wounded.
Individual Americans own 393 million firearms, which is about 46 per cent of civilian-held firearms worldwide, or 120.5 for every 100 residents. Those figures come from the Small Arms Survey, an independent research project in Switzerland.
And, they are buying more. Two million guns were sold in the U.S. this past January alone. Two million new guns in 31 days. That’s on the heels of the 17 million bought last year.
Research at the University of Chicago shows that 39 per cent of American households own guns, up from 32 per cent in 2016.
The country is gun crazy. And the crazy things Americans do with the increasing number of guns grows by the day.
It’s not just guns and killings. Other signs of America’s deteriorating mental state are becoming more evident.
There’s the COVID-19 disaster, of course. Thirty-four million cases with 600-plus thousand deaths making the United States, probably the world’s most advanced country, with one of the world’s worst records in handling the disease.
Then there is the drug pandemic.
Addiction Centre, a company providing information on addiction, says that drug overdose deaths have tripled in the U.S. since 1990. Also, more than 20 million Americans have at least one addiction and that alcohol and drug addiction costs the U.S. $600 million a year.
Then there’s the racism, an issue that needs no elaboration.
The country’s healthcare system is a mess; too many people just don’t have quality health care. Ditto the education system, in which college costs are far too high and too many kids are condemned to slum schools.
Adding all that up, it’s fair to say that the quality of American life is lower than many other developed countries. Americans carry heavy debt loads, work long hours to lighten them and have little time to enjoy themselves and appreciate each other.
Their politics and politicians are no help to them. Ideas, actions, legislation are frozen in blocks of icy partisanship. The U.S. political system now is about as helpful to its citizens as a frozen ballpark frank.
It’s an emotionally insecure country, with people seemingly wanting to protect themselves from each other. Why else would they have so many guns?
There is little intelligent focus on the issues in the U.S. and Americans really don’t know much about the rest of the world. They are too consumed with ‘getting ahead’, working long hours to pay the bills resulting from trying to get ahead and with buying guns to kill each other.
Much hope has been placed in the presidency of Joe Biden. But he’s only the triage guy in a packed emergency room. The country needs major long-term treatment to get healthy before the Chinese and the Russians move in and start euthanizing the population.
America is one sick puppy. We Canadians should be concerned because Americans are our best friends.