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There's been lots of talk in the media about banning guns and so forth since the Colorado shooting. That's nonsense, even assuming we could collect every gun (and they likely outnumber American citizens) in this country, because the bad guys are certain to not turn in their weapons. But really, this is only a symptom.

Something is fundamentally wrong in the USA: Switzerland is 2nd in the world (next to us) in gun ownership, yet they have one of the lowest murder rates in the world, about 1/6 of ours. It's clearly not the guns that are the problem, but rather something about how our nation treats mental illness, deals with violence, engages in debate, and so much more.

We have - by a wide margin - the highest citizen-incarceration rate in the world. In the 1980s, we purge our mentally ill onto the streets. Ours is a fractured and sick nation.

Our culture is painfully divided between 1) fanatical religious types who feel it is God's will to do things like bomb healthcare providers, and 2) progressives who cannot even understand why the "followers of Jesus" - a man who preached love and understanding - can spout such hatred that even politicians running for high office feel they must say things they don't believe in order to get the vote of the radical right-wing. This only proves to the religous right that "teh leebrals" are wrong-headed. The two sides are incapable of talking to one another.

Meanwhile, we're imprisoning people left and right for such minor offenses as smoking pot three times. People with mental illness are not identified and treated. Poor folks live in desperate hopelessness where selling drugs is the only bright spot. And everyone else is so terrified of losing an income and health care that they remain wage-slaves to jobs they despise.

Solving those problems is HARD. The US doesn't seem to be a nation that has patience for long-term fixes; politically, our will is shorter than two years.

What can be done for our country? How can we cure our ills? We're doing it wrong, people.

Chris

Comments

verminiusrex
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
Part of the problem is sheer numbers. Switzerland has a population of around 8 million, the US over 300 million. You are more likely to get a smaller group in a tighter geographic area to agree on principles like mental health care and gun control than you can in the vast expanse of a continent where you have countless regions vying for their own agenda.

tully01
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Switzerland is also much more ethnically/socially/culturally homogenous than the US. Same principle.
silverfae
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
Yes. I don't think that a lot of the people spouting stats have a grasp of just how vast (and diverse) this nation is, comparatively speaking.
iainjcoleman
Jul. 22nd, 2012 10:17 am (UTC)
Europe as a whole is no less diverse than the US, and substantially less violent.
silverfae
Jul. 22nd, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
You're speaking to someone who grew up over there.
I stand by my statement.
emt_hawk
Jul. 21st, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
We can't get 3 people to agree on a pizza topping, much less the population of America.

--Hawk
bemused_leftist
Jul. 22nd, 2012 04:19 am (UTC)
"Part of the problem is sheer numbers."

I bounced off that in a different direction. In the US we have two groups in which the immediate family tends to have more babies than it can support financially or with enough attention: poor families who can't afford contraception, and those religious families that don't believe in it. Perhaps the more stable societies have a higher percentage of stable families.