You may have noticed some stories lately about entire families being wiped out by the husband. Just today I saw a story in Alabama where the husband killed his wife, daughter, and two others. This story might have reminded you of some others recently, such as a music teacher in Florida (killed himself plus three), or the executive MBA in California (killed himself plus five). Based on nothing more than circumstance, I’d say that this economic downturn has caused a dramatic increase in murder-suicides among family members. But the scientist in me demands that I find someone else who observes the same link, so here’s the Christian Science Monitor to tell us:
On a broader level, however, such incidents may be happening more often because an increasing number of Americans feel desperate pressure from job losses and other economic hardship, criminologists say.
“Most of these mass killings are precipitated by some catastrophic loss, and when the economy goes south, there are simply more of these losses,” says Jack Levin, a noted criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.
Direct correlation between economic cycles and homicides is difficult to prove, cautions Shawn Bushway, a criminologist at the University at Albany in New York. But an economic downturn of this breadth and depth hasn’t been seen since data began to be collected after World War II, he also points out. “This is not the average situation,” Mr. Bushway says.
Still, criminologists do say that certain kinds of violent crimes have risen during specific economic downturns. The recession in the early 1990s “saw a dramatic increase in workplace violence committed by vengeful ex-workers who decided to come back and get even with their boss and their co-workers through the barrel of an AK-47,” Mr. Levin says.
And in the midst of this downturn, one study released Monday in Florida finds a link between domestic violence and economic tragedies like job loss and foreclosures. The Sunshine State saw an almost 40 percent jump in demand for domestic-violence centers, an increase related to the state of the economy, the study says. George Sheldon, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, calls the situation “the worst I’ve seen in years,” according to the Associated Press.
This kind of stuff makes me long for the “good old days” of The Great Depression when you’d just throw yourself out the window. These days, it seems people seem to want to take their entire family with them. Since I’m predicting that the economy is just going to get worse from here, and since violence seems tied to the economy, my advice to my readers is to keep an eye on your neighbors. As the growing depression rends the social fabric of this country apart, things are only going to get worse.
Humans are social animals by nature. These days the average American spends far more time at work than he does with his family. Work often becomes a person’s whole world. When people lose these mooring, they are in danger of doing horrible things. Unfortunately, modern Americans have also been conditioned to believe in the power of the state to solve most of its problems. Regardless of the problem facing us, people are repeatedly told that our democratic system will elect the right representatives who will consult with the right experts and solve the problems that need solving. This is obviously not true, and even the most casual observer of government knows that, but most of American still seems in denial about it.
As our elected leaders show themselves to be increasingly powerless at solving this economic crisis, the mythology of our all powerful democracy will come into question. As our leaders grab more and more power in increasingly futile attempts to end this downturn, Americans will begin to take an increasingly critical view of government power. After all of Obama’s economic stimulus has run its course and only exacerbated the situation, Americans will begin to become skeptical of almost everything they hear come out of Washington.
In the greater scheme of this, this will be a good thing. The more critical the people are of government and its operation, the more harder they will be to hoodwink into sacrificing their liberties. However, in the short-term, it’s going to make for a very difficult, and I’d say almost revolutionary time. I’m not sure what’s the future holds, but I do know that the economic non-sense that it coming out of Washington is just going to make things worse for all of us. When America gives up on the dollar, as in inevitably must, people’s faith in the government will be shattered. What happens next, I haven’t a clue.
This is why I encourage people to keep a good amount of their wealth in gold and silver coins that are in their immediate possession. Many friends of mine combine this with owning a firearm. I have mixed feelings on this. A firearm is a great thing to have around the house when there’s chaos in the streets or an intruder in the home, but it’s also what has made all of these murder-suicides so easy to execute. That makes them a rather double-edged sword.
Meanwhile, I think it’s best that we get to know our neighbors. By expanding our social network we can give support to each other as the times get tough. Also, when it becomes apparent to people that the government is failing us, these social networks will become the nucleus of local civic power. People coming together and providing for their own defense as well as planning for the future is the real basis of democracy, not the centralization of power and wealth into increasingly fewer hands. It’s time we remembered that.