Making sense of the violence in Ferguson

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Like many others, I watched in horrified fascination last night as this livestream from Ferguson, Missouri, played out online. (Thanks to Sara Rosenbaum, whose Twitter stream alerted me to it.) With cable news slow off the mark, the amateur footage of police firing rubber bullets at peaceful protesters was all we had.

But live images from a chaotic scene on the ground are no substitute for context and analysis. As we try to make sense of the Michael Brown shooting and the community and police response, I want to call your attention to several pieces that have helped me understand what’s going on:

8 thoughts on “Making sense of the violence in Ferguson

    1. Mike Benedict

      Mike Rice: Never underestimate a rightwinger’s gift for hyperbole. One could have said the same thing 42 years ago — war in Vietnam, Kent State, widespread drug use, racial tensions, energy issues, lawbreaking president, etc. Somehow we survived.

  1. Mike Rice

    @ Mike Benedict:
    In 1972 the national debt was $427,260,460,940.50. Today it’s closing in on 18 trillion. How long can this country continue to borrow and print money before it fiscally implodes? On that count I agree with David Brook’s New York Times column published in 2009 titled, “Fiscal Suicide Ahead.”

    Also, a World Bank report published this spring stated that China may overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. This year. That’s scary.

    Furthermore, what about the 92 million people who are now out of the labor force?

    The problems which face this country today appear to be far more threatening than those of 1972.

    Additionally, given the present condition of this country and the track it’s on the election of our next president strikes me as being akin to mounting a shiny new hood ornament on the same old sputtering car.

    Right-winger? Actually I’m deeply worried for the youth and future generations of this country. Aren’t you?

  2. Mike Benedict

    Deeply worried? Absolutely not. Those “92 million people” (an exaggeration, but so what) out of the labor force include lots of people who simply don’t want to work, or are past working age. The number of long-term unemployed is 3.2 million, which is about 1/3 of the total number of unemployed, per the BLS. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has actually declined by 1.1 million.

    As for China, any country with 3x the population of ours has more than decent shot of having a larger economic output. That’s just math. And if you don’t realize that China faces way more severe problems than we do, you just haven’t been paying attention.

    The national debt is just a number. We can buy things. We can sell things. It hasn’t affected that one bit. We could lift the oil export rule and overnight would change the economics of that entire industry. I’m old enough to remember gas lines of 40 years ago, when our (Republican) leaders told us we were running out of oil. We could stop paying other nations’ not to become productive, and insist they start repaying their debts. We can force our domestic companies to actually pay their taxes. There’s lots of ways to raise revenue, and fast. You can light your hair on fire all you want, but I’ve been hearing about the demise of this country since I got out of diapers and somehow we continue to get better and everyone else gets worse.

    1. Mike Rice

      The national debt is just a number? Sure. Until the interest paid on it severely cripples the funding for government programs. The 79 million baby-boomers are now in the process of signing up for their Medicare and Social Security benefits. Eventually those entitlement programs will be upside down. Then what?

      When Obama leaves office the national debt at that point may hit or exceed $20 trillion. Also worrisome is the debt continues to increase at the rate of around $10 million per minute. A fiscal implosion does appear to be up ahead as the size of the national debt continues to rocket further into fiscal Never-Neverland along with this country printing money like crazy. We’ll see.

      Oh, and from what I’ve also read the US has had the world’s largest economy since 1872. There goes your China theory out the window.

      Now, I wonder what I did with that fire extinguisher Hmm. Lastly, blind optimism isn’t my thing.

  3. Mike Rice

    Hey Mike Benedict! Where’d you go? Since you first posted here on Aug.15, through Aug. 25 the national debt has only increased by a measly $78 billion dollars. No big deal – right? After all – the face value of a billion pennies is just a scanty $10 million dollars. No worries. Yeah, right.

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