From the joint dept. of: capitalism is remarkable, and we are a very sick society

June 26th, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Today’s NYT mag has a piece about how the proliferation of mass shootings made the term “active shooter” part of our lexicon.

The piece begins by featuring a manufacturer of bullet proof office furniture. For five years, Ballistic Furniture Systems has been developing “bullet-­resistant panels that could be fitted inside chairs, cubicles and doors.”

There is no other economic/political system I know of that is unable (really, unwilling) to take action against gun violence–and to be clear, mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of US gun deaths–while simultaneously developing all sorts of new ways to make money off of it.

I can just hear the pitch: “We offer competitive salaries, a great benefit package, and complete bullet-proof protection should an active shooter show up!”

BTW, just to close this loop of dark irony, the article notes that “Among the many contractors that now offer active-shooter training is G4S, the global ­security firm that employed one Omar Mateen.”

Sorry to get dramatic and maudlin, but I’m increasingly compelled to apologize to my children for the world that “grownups” are leaving to them.

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4 comments in reply to "From the joint dept. of: capitalism is remarkable, and we are a very sick society"

  1. Beth says:

    When the only investment comes from the private sector, we end up with creepy get-rich-quick private sector stuff with no public purpose. Useless fads to the General Welfare of a real nation.


  2. Smith says:

    A constant in all the shootings “and correct me if I’m wrong” as one recent political candidate is fond of saying, is that the shooters were very influenced by the media. This is true for both lone wolf and organized cabals directed or aided by international terror and extra-national groups (ISIS, not a group, not quite a country). It’s true of Columbine and 9/11, Oklahoma and Boston marathon, everyone could count on massive amounts of publicity and fame, because that’s often nearly the whole entire point. The media knows it but claims it’s the public’s right to know vs. closer to the truth, money. If it bleeds, it leads. The media could start by reporting everything except the name or description of the perpetrator. Treat the fame seeker as the networks do the publicity seeker running on to the field during a game. They owe it to the victim’s families.

    That says nothing about the, is it 30 people a day, killed in gun violence (or accidents) in the U.S. That’s more about Democrats not making Republicans pay for positions not supported by the public. Democrats don’t want to be targeted by the NRA (and their supporters), literally, but mostly financially. A Democrat might still win despite campaign dollars targeting them, if they got offsetting support from the DNC, but who needs that headache? Garnering powerful political enemies is not how they became a politician in the first place. Just the opposite. Like much if not all of the whacky rightward drift of America, it’s the fault of the center left party controlled by elites whose primary concern is self interest and protecting their incumbency.


  3. Egmont Kakarot-Handtke says:

    Lost in the wood
    Comment on Jared Bernstein on ‘From the joint dept. of: capitalism is remarkable, and we are a very sick society’

    (i) Your blog is clearly labeled ‘On the economy’.

    (ii) We have seen on the preceding thread* that you have no idea about how the actual economy works and cannot even tell the difference between income and profit.

    (iii) All this is disqualifying enough for an economist but it does not stop you from making things even worse by moralizing about the sick society. May I remind you that society is the subject matter of sociology/social philosophy and that the subject matter of economics is the economy.

    (iv) The sickness of economists in general and you in particular consists in the fact that they have no idea of how the economy works and instead of shutting up they try to cover their failure with waffling about society.

    Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

    * See ‘Iatrogenic economics’ http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2016/06/iatrogenic-economics.html


  4. Smith says:

    I) The blog post clearly addresses what aspect of the shootings are addressed by the economic framework of the U.S. (variation of capitalism) and how this is seems totally inadequate. The implication is that the economic framework does matter, had influence or could have influence on this important feature/defect. My comment pointed out the economic incentive of the media industry to make money off the shootings, and that this externality (more shootings) needs to be addressed, through legislative action or societal movement if necessary (ban the publication of the shooter’s name and likeness, and/or boycott media and products the media advertises when this is violated).
    II) If you are given the privilege of publishing on this site with a comment, the least you could do is address some aspect of actual blog subject ( how capitalists profit from shootings selling shooter victim protective gear) vs. adding a complaint about a previous blog. This technically should be moderated out as off topic but for some tangential relevance in III and IV.
    III) Economics and sociology/social philosophy overlap in very important ways, and in the most fundamental way. The impact of economics on our social system and philosophy is actually the reason for studying economics vs. getting equations correct. It’s immeasurably helpful to think about the effects when trying to understand the cause, scientific method and all (also closer to the meaning of the famous misinterpreted quote of Machiavelli, look at the ends)
    IV) Use of the terms “sickness” and “shutting up” are rude, unnecessary, and one suspects betray a weakness in argument, as often ad hominem attacks are a poor substitute for reasoned debate.

    The basic models of economics, Keynesian ideas, built upon previous work, have held up rather well to natural experiments. They provide a utility and are useful, I see no evidence that would cause me to discard these models wholesale, or that what I perceive as some subtle distinction in how profit is defined or treated should, even if valid, should cause me to disqualify everything that emanates from those not accepting those theories of profit, and it’s alleged centrality.

    Economics is social science to be sure, with overlap in biological science in light of recent research into neuro economics. In an analogy to the study of flight, in economics, people and motives are not simply passengers and flight crew, they are the engines, fuel, and controls of the plane. Economic transactions, micro and macro, contain are fueled by personal wants and needs and limitations, the classic definition of allocation of scarce resources.


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