Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Wages of Economic Sin

Is it something distinctly American that makes the victims of the current economic nightmare feel personally responsible and just give up hope for the improvement of their individual and family's situation, or is it the knowledge that our current capitalistic type of government enterprise is so weighted against their personal success that they know any gain they've already received is more than they should have expected to be true in the past and certainly not replicable in the future? And, if so, what does this say about our greater community as a viable support organism for the continuing bad times? Nick Turse says it's an econo-cide and Barbara Ehrenreich echoes these thoughts when she writes about the new "suicide solution in response to the burgeoning financial crisis."

After David B. Kellermann, the Chief Financial Officer of beleaguered mortgage giant Freddie Mac, tied a noose and hanged himself in the basement of his Vienna, Virginia, home, the New York Times made it a front-page story. The stresses of the job in economic tough times, its reporters implied, had driven him to this extreme act. "Binghamton Shooter" Jiverly Wong also garnered front-page headlines nationwide and set off a cable news frenzy when, "bitter over job loss," he massacred 13 people at an immigration center in upstate New York. Similarly, coverage was brisk after Pittsburgh resident Richard Poplawski, "upset about recently losing a job," shot four local police officers, killing three of them. But where was the front-page treatment when, in January, Betty Lipply, a 72-year-old resident of East Palestine, Ohio, "who feared she'd lose her home to foreclosure hanged herself to death" shortly after "receiving her second summons and foreclosure complaint from her mortgage lender?" And where was the up-to-the-minute cable news reporting on the two California dairy farmers who "killed themselves... out of despair over finances, according to associates?"

There is a good reason for these "missing stories."

. . . Last fall, a TomDispatch report on suicides and a range of other extreme acts - including self-inflicted injury, murder, arson, and armed self-defense - in response to foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies, and layoffs, was followed, months later, by mainstream media attention to the notion of "econo-cide" - prompted, in large part, by a spate of familicides (murder/suicides in which both parents and their children die). . . . An analysis by TomDispatch of national, regional, and local news reports in 2008 and early 2009 indicates that a silent, nationwide epidemic of drastic measures may be underway. News of such acts linked to economic woes - from armed robberies to pay the rent to financially-motivated suicides - has filtered out of cities and towns in no less than 30 states, many of which have seen multiple incidents. And since only a fraction of such acts ever receives media coverage, what is being reported, even if mostly in local newspapers, qualifies as startling. For every Jiverly Wong, who garners days of cable-news coverage, there are untold despondent and desperate dairy farmers and retirees battered by the economy and at wits' end who respond by subjecting themselves, others, or property to violence and are hardly noticed. What follows is a sampling of such incidents, most reported locally, and organized by month - no month lacked such reports - since the beginning of this year.

. . . David Kelley lost his job in September 2008. As values plummeted on his Clairemont, California, home as well as the rental properties he owned, he reportedly became "overwhelmed by debt and depression." On January 5th, he shot himself. "He saw his good life and successful career slipping away," said his stepmother. "He couldn't see beyond the struggles he was having."

According to a police report, Manchester, Missouri, resident Frank Kavano, 66, who killed his wife and then himself, left a suicide note that mentioned "financial issues and difficulty in the marriage." After losing a bet on a college football bowl game - on top of losing his home to foreclosure - Dante Vinci, age 48, reportedly stabbed a man to death outside a Reno, Nevada, sports bar. . . . According to a news report, Gregory and Randolph Graham, third-generation car dealers from Ligonier, Pennsylvania, "watched helplessly over the past year as their business collapsed under the weight of the recession." One night, Gregory, 61, set fire to some of the cars at his dealership and "died of a heart attack next to the burning wreckage." Days later, Randolph, 51, "was found dead, slumped over the wheel of his car in what may have been a suicide."

When Otero County, New Mexico, sheriff's deputies tried to serve foreclosure papers on Miguel and Inga Gutierrez, the couple armed themselves and opened fire. After a 16-hour standoff, Miguel was found dead and Inga was taken into custody.

"Unemployed, awash in debt and hiding an October foreclosure from loved ones," 55-year-old Wayne "Mike" Anderson of Stratmoor Valley, Colorado, shot himself to death as a sheriff's deputy, ready to evict him, stood at his doorstep.

In Glyndon, Maryland, advertising executive Howard "Jack" Marks Jr., 63, killed himself after, his wife told the police, financial woes left him in danger of losing his business.

According to news reports, 53-year-old Jeffrey P. McKnight of Pataskala, Ohio, was "struggling financially and overwhelmed with caring for his elderly father" when he set his house ablaze and then killed his dad and himself.

Reportedly "upset over being unemployed and his financial status," George Vincent, 49, of Fort Meyers, Florida, drank copious amounts of beer, after which his wife called the police, telling them her husband was drunk, armed, and suicidal. When Vincent pulled a gun on responding officers, they opened fire, killing him, in what the state attorney's office deemed to be a case of suicide-by-cop.

Get ready for a much more intense onslaught of stories about those who feel abandoned by friends and community during the remaining years of this country-cide. Suzan _____________________


KELSO'S NUTS said...

Please stop lecturing Panama on how to conduct bank policy until you can act responsibly towards your own people. Barack Obama is not the President Of Panama. Martin Torrijos is.

Colin Powell is the single most hated man in all of Panama for slaughtering 5000 and making 100,000 refugees. Barack Obama is very close to being the second most hated man in Panama.

He is already the most hated man in Colombia. They don't need him to dictate their drug policy and they surely don't need to continue as another Israel. To many have died and now the blood is on Barack Obama's hands as well as every other US president's hands since Jimmy Carter.

The tax-haven thing is an okey-doke because all it does is give the US government the right to once again control Panama. The Southern Command was kicked out in 1997. This is going to end in tears. If Barack Obama persists in aggressing on Panama for political capital, the banks will reveal the account information alright and just how much ended up in Obama's campaign coffers.

You are all messing around in issues you have no business messing around in according to the World Court and UN. The thievery of the largest US corporations like GM will continued to be aided and abetted by Barack Obama no matter what any American says or does about "evil tax havens." Obama gifted AIG with free billions and now wants to control the Panamanian peoples' lives under the aegis of fighting "evil tax havens."

It's a lie. He's a liar. President Martin Torrijos also doesn't want any "Free Trade" with the US.

When Bush messed around in other oountries' affairs is was bad. But for you Americans now that Obama does it, it's good.

We don't need your lectures and speeches. We need to find our own destiny and take care of ourselves.

Nobody waves little blue placards around in Latin America and nobody is looking to Barack Obama for salvation. For Latin America he is the problem not the solution.

Suzan said...

Where did you get the idea that I was "lecturing Panama on how to conduct bank policy?"

I happen to agree with you.

And it always "ends in tears," but not for the banksters.

This is going to end in tears.

Cut and paste answers should fit the blog, friend. Maybe you should reread what I wrote again.

Thanks for your input.