In American crisis, anger and guns

By Bernd Debusmann
March 19, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. —

In the first two months of this year, around 2.5 million Americans bought guns, a 26 percent increase over the same period in 2008. It was great news for gun makers and a sign of a dark mood in the country.

Gun sales shot up almost immediately after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential elections on November 4 and firearm enthusiasts rushed to stores, fearing he would tighten gun controls despite campaign pledges to the contrary.

After the November spike, gun dealers say, a second motive has helped drive sales: fear of social unrest as the ailing economy pushes the newly destitute deeper into misery. Many of the newly poor come from the relentlessly rising ranks of the unemployed. In February alone, an average of 23,000 people a day lost their jobs.

Tent cities for the homeless have expanded outside a string of American cities, from Sacramento and Phoenix to Atlanta and Seattle, for people who are living the American dream in reverse. First they lose their jobs, then their health insurance, then their homes, then their hopes. The encampments are reminiscent of Third World refugee camps.

Often former members of the middle class, tent dwellers’ accounts of their plight to television cameras have a common theme: “I never thought this could happen to me.” Unlike the victims of Katrina, the 2005 hurricane that destroyed much of New Orleans, many of the newly-poor are white.

The FBI says it carried out 1,213,885 criminal background checks on prospective firearms buyers in January and 1,259,078 in February, jumps of 28% and 23.3% respectively. Keen demand turned the stocks of publicly-trade firearms companies like Smith & Wesson (up 80% since November) and Sturm Ruger (up more than 100%) into shining stars on the New York Stock Exchange.

There are no statistics on how many guns are bought by people who think they need them to defend themselves against desperate fellow citizens.

But, as columnist David Ignatius put it in the Washington Post, “there’s an ugly mood developing as people start looking for villains to blame for the economic mess.” In November, an analysis published by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute listed “unforeseen economic collapse” as one of the possible causes of future “widespread civil violence.”

The American economy is down but not out, and in mid-March some experts reported signs that the pace of the decline was slowing. But it hasn’t slowed enough to sweep away the sense of anxiety and fear that comes through in many conversations and commentaries about the future of this normally optimistic country.

While Obama’s approval rating remains high, at 59%, almost two thirds of the population thinks the country is on the wrong track, according to a poll commissioned by National Public Radio in mid-March.

“What is really remarkable about all this is that there hasn’t been social unrest,” remarked an executive with business interests in Latin American countries where riots and street demonstrations in response to economic squeezes are routine. “The conditions for it are all there.”

ANGER ABOUT BAILOUTS

Anger is building. Just under half of those surveyed in a poll by the Pew Research Center this month expressed anger about “bailing out banks and financial institutions that made poor decisions.” The poll was taken before details became known of the full extent of the bonus-paying spree to members of the very team that brought the insurance giant AIG close to collapse.

The government propped up AIG with close to $200 billion and now owns 80% of the company. The argument that $165 million in bonuses had to be paid under contractual obligations went down particularly badly with workers of the three U.S. car companies whose leaders appealed for support from the Bush administration last year when the economic crisis gathered steam.

One of the conditions for the billions that were dispensed to the car industry was that contracts between auto workers and their union, the United Auto Workers, had to be renegotiated to cut costs. The union agreed, and the question arises: are contracts with blue-collar workers less binding than those with highly-paid derivatives traders?

Some see this as another sign of the inequalities that Obama promised to address. Remember his famous exchange with Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, during a campaign stop? “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Obama told him.

There’s less wealth to spread around now as trillions of dollars has evaporated with increasing speed in the deepening crisis. In housing alone, more than $5 trillion has vanished. The gap between rich and poor, a gap of Third World proportions, has not changed. A full-time worker, on average, made $37,606 last year, considerably less than in 1973, adjusted for inflation.

While CEOs made 45 times as much as workers in 1973 they make more than 300 times as much today, according to Holly Sklar, author of “Raise the Floor, Wages and Policies that Work for All of US.”

To what extent those gaps will shrink under Obama remains to be seen and the outlook for swift action is not promising. There are, in fact, not many things for which the outlook is promising. Exceptions include Smith&Wesson. They expect revenue to double within the next three years.

You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com.

263 comments

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“More guns = more crime”

FYI – the crime rate in England is higher than in the USA.

Posted by PA | Report as abusive

Tony,You must be the same guy that was waiting for the UFO’s to land and save you right?

Posted by TRome | Report as abusive

Our rights to own and bear arms has already been debated and are guaranteed through the Bill of Rights.

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms… disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. Jefferson’s “Commonplace Book,” 1774_1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

also,

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicity. Thomas Jefferson

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

And we should take away from this what? So big deal, republicans buy guns, so what. They have never carried them in battle so they just have them to look at. You show me a dedicated republican and I will show you a gun owner and that is all. Defend the Constitution, no thanks, they will say. Defend the Country, no thanks, that is for the poor. We will defend our wallets and then not to much on that end either. We all know that this is just a look at me game they play, just to rile up the poor folk in their midst. The first crack of gunfire and all you will smell is them and the little accident they had. If you are unarmed, they may stay and fight, but that is debatable…hee hee…

Posted by jasan | Report as abusive

It’s simple folks….

“Democracy is like two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch…
Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote”

Ben Franklin

“Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

Thomas Jefferson

“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny,
When the government fears the people, there is Liberty!”

Thomas Jefferson

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

James Madison

“With respect to the words, “general welfare,” I have always regarded them as qualified by the details of power connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution…[that] was not contemplated by the creators.”

James Madison

“To preserve Liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people possess arms, and taught alike, especially when young how to use them”

Richard Henry Lee 1787

Posted by Edna Eagle, | Report as abusive

The ‘stimulus’ package helped shareholders and not the taxpayers; bailouts to banks ensured debts were paid for the gamble in the derivatives market that paid nice bonuses since 1999… AIG bailout helped Citi, BofA, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank & Societe Generale, to name a few….

The government had a simple solution at hand….create a STATE OWNED bank, with a clean balance sheet and 3 TRILLION USD to keep credit markets going and the interset rates intact to support the currency, with the option of privatizing this bank in 1 yr time with stock options delivered in the mailbox for every tax payer, summing up to some 40% of the total market value of the bank. Another 40% would have been sold to private investors, with a 20% stake left for another 2 years in gov’s hands for board decisions.

The Obama administration was USED by the FED to provide the last remaining outstanding powers: risk and regulation. The US economy will be de facto owned by a bunch of private banks… clap, clap, clap….Bravo !

Posted by paul | Report as abusive

I for one am not at all concerned about a wave of civil unrest among the American Population while all of our troops are deployed abroad. It does not concern me that AIG has just been renamed AIU, instead of A-IoU just a week after underperformers received overcompensation and I have been waiting 5 years for my REGULAR COMPENSATION and the EEOC and DOJ can’t seem to get things together after 911 on Domestic ‘para-civil’ Issues. I think the buying of firearms is a normal American Choice and I do not think you will see a rise in violence from the new poverty class being created in volume. I do not think people will pick up their guns and start shooting and stealing because they have been robbed unprotected by whitecollar pirates in a regulations free internet anarchy of unrestrained individual interest with unlimited corporate/governmental power.

I think American’s are peaceful people who are interested in defending their property which is being threatened and the Surge in Gun Purchases is wholly normal. Four years ago after I was robbed, threatened and abused under government surveillance, I considered buying a weapon as many other American’s do now. Ultimately I realized a Firearm is not the Answer and that the pen is mightier than the sword.

That there are Ethical People remaining in Washington and Business and they have remained silient for too long and that the ‘la Marseillaise’ attitude of Americans is part of our Strong Individual Heritage, which is a statement that we shall not be moved from our RIGHTS TO OUR PROPERTY by improper regulation in the Internet Capable Economy.

That quite possibly this Nation requires some Restoration of Faith in our Constitution and will recognize the evidence of the Strong and Unmoveable will of the People to protect America (which is a construction of People called AMERICANS) from the increased threat level of internal turmoil.

I don’t think it will ever happen Bernd, I think the people of our country are Industrious Innovators and once the Government realizes that the Industrious Innovation must be allowed to grow and prosper within boundaries of Regulation that Order and Prosperity will be restored.

Though I think that will take 5 or 7 years and there will be ample suffering among all, (as my family has suffered for the last 5 years) while we await the DOJ and SEC to pull its head from its ass and start assessing ENORMOUS fines and sending Whitecollar Criminals to Jail.

When those ‘keepers of the law’ are not doing their job, people reach for their ‘piece’ to protect their person from further harm.

It’s their right.

That’s why its there.

Peaceful Resolution and TIMELY Compensation to Innovation is the CORRECT ANSWER.

I think everyone should take a deep breath and find their answer in Church, which is another great American Tradition and a better answer than a Gun.

Sincerely,

James Reginald Harris, Jr.

You all are a bunch of chicken littles. “Communism! Socialism! Civil War!”
Get a load of yourselves. This economic mess was created by unregulated greed. The American economy is like a pendulum, and right now we have swung to the apex. It will bounce back. The blame can be pointed in many directions. I’m not going to single out a certain political party, or class, or country for this mess. Democrats and Republicans alike are responsible for this mess. Wall Street and Main Street alike are responsible for this mess. Why Main Street? Because if you don’t know what a 5.1 ARM with a balloon interest rate is, then that is your own fault for not researching before you took a 350K loan on a house.
Don’t blame Obama. He’s not trying to take away your guns, you paranoid nancies. Quit listening to the propoganda (on both sides). Quit listening to the voices that try to polarize this nation (both FOX and MSNBC are guilty). Stop the madness that divides and understand that we need to come together and look out for one another.
The sky is not falling. But if you insist on it, then the self-fulfilling prophesy will come true.
Peace.

Posted by Ari S. | Report as abusive

The bailouts are criminal, congress is committing treason against the American people and I am all for an armed revolution. Congresspeople get campaign contributions from bankers and the bailouts (more heavily supported by the D’s than the R’s) are the quid-pro-quo.

Obama ain’t nothing new, he’s just more of the same. He’s nearly doubled the deficit in just over 2 months. Took that incompetent nincompoop Bush 8 years to do!

SOlution: no more bailouts, cap wages of actors/tv hosts/sportspeople/singers/businessmen/b ankers. Nobody needs more than say, a million a year.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

“Gun sales shot up almost immediately after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential elections on November 4 and firearm enthusiasts rushed to stores, fearing he would tighten gun controls despite campaign pledges to the contrary.”

Like a pledge means anything to this man. Every single ‘pledge’ he has given has been broken. Public financing? Protecting Veterans? Deficit spending? Lobbyists in his cabinet? Economic focus with 17 of 18 Treasury senate appointed posts EMPTY? Add in the fact that he was virulently anti-gun in chicago and one just might think that he will not just tighten but eliminate the Second Amendment by exec-order.

IMHO, he won’t try anything nearly as far reaching as he would have precisely because of the huge sales that were recorded. At least that is why I bought a couple extra.

Posted by jukin | Report as abusive

This is an informative and expressive article with a nice ironic turn at the end. However, I don’t think violence is likely to break out in the U.S. any time soon. There are not enough public spaces to which many people bring their concerns. To put the matter another way, if it isn’t on TV, it didn’t happen.

I suggest there will be no readily available way for Americans to build up a head of steam by mutually reinforcing each other. Even if there are scattered riots, they will only be able to spread around in ghetto areas, where public space is more closely linked with people’s everyday lives. I doubt that ghetto riots would trigger generalized lawlessness.

The only way I can (so far) envision violence erupting in the average U.S. community would be from shortages of food and/or fuel, particularly, of course, gasoline.

One possible exception would be if the Hispanic community gets up in arms over something. Judging by last year’s (or was it 2007) Hispanic marches in opposition to persecution of immigrants, that particular group’s leadership is capable of bringing people into the streets very effectively. Nevertheless, I don’t think Hispanic leaders would want their community to squander any of their power by staging rallies (or violence) just for the sake of blowing off steam.

There is suffciency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed .

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Many interesting points have been made in the blogs, however…

1. Even if guns were completely illegal, they would come from overseas, and JUST criminals would have them. This would become a new market for organized crime to make even more money.

2. I don’t think that criminals buy guns legally.

3. We as Americans have lost alot of rights, why let additional rights – of any kind, be taken away?

4. When a moderate, such as myself, sees it this way…this means that it is becoming more obvious that many rights are being taken away.

5. In regards to CEO pay; I would love the opportunity to receive a donation from one of these CEO’s – prefferably a home paid in full…

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

namastey sir,

what would be the global economy position during 2009-10,and how do you foresee the effect on common man.

Posted by g srirama murty | Report as abusive

In regards to gun ownership, I am an NRA member and firmly believe in the individual’s right to own a firearm. I have many reasons for those beliefs chief among them is that they make this country what it is, the way it is ( I also believe in the electoral college). I love this country. That being said I live in New York City, and contrary to popular myth, there is absolutely no reason to actually own a gun here (handguns are illegal). Any gun would be far more likely to be stolen and misused here than to be used for any presupposed need I would theoretically make of it. If I really thought I needed a gun in this town – I’d move my family out ASAP. I cannot understand why a dark mood would make someone reach out to gun ownership other than to stroke some need for empowerment. I read a lot posts on the Marketwatch Gold commentaries and those guys are waiting in the wings for the demise of the US as we know it. So they are stocking up on all kinds of survivalist accoutrements such as gold, toilet paper, canned bacon and you guessed it guns & ammo. It is too bad for them that survivalist myths only work in Hollywood movies. In real life things are far less glamorous and much grittier in the world they prepare for than in the movies – there is no winners and it is no place for my children to live. Humans are hiearchical primates, so a decline in the standard of living isn’t cataclysmic if you see that others share the burden too. The reverse is true as well, even if we have our basic needs met, we are unhappy if we feel we are relegated to an inferior class. History has shown time and time again, that violence is not the solution for our wounded pride.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

American citizens think that the Obama administration, the senate and congress are thinking about ignoring some constitutional rights.. 1st and 2nd amendments..

So they (the Americans) do not want their ability to bear arms,protect themselves, protect themselves from the government, if it overbearing and antii-constitution, so they are stocking up on arms, and ammo, to make sure they will still have them available..

Whether or not it is real or emaginary the fear of the government is real to them.. Bruce

Posted by Bruce King | Report as abusive

Being danish,but having spend a lot of time in the US on a regular basis..it is a pity to see how little it has developed the last 50 years…time to grow up and take adult responsiblity. Everything is overconsumed, energy,food in the US..unable to balance a federal or personal budget..
no responable needed regulations in place in too many areas from banning guns(protecting innocent people) to a finacial market which now makes havoc to millions af people around the world…STOP living a cowboy movie..with no rules.. where just retaliation is glorified..be preventive responsible adults instead in a modern society, that can save both people and the enviroment/planet.

Posted by Evald Harpoth | Report as abusive

When frightened, people “cling”, to whatever gives them a sense of security. That might be guns, bibles or even despots, as did Germany turn to Hitler in desperate times. Fear and emasculation fuel firearm sales. Freud would have much to say about needing handguns with long barrels.

Like gold, guns will be gathering dust by 2011. By then, the recession will be history, and jobs will be plentiful again. But, only for those with training or skills valuable in the 21st Century. So, I say, “instead of guns, spend that spare cash now on more education and prepare for your next career”.

Posted by James Conroy | Report as abusive

I’m gonna talk about something not in this article and it’s me having my fears exposed that America is already turning back to the Republican party rather than not siding with either party.

This 2 party system is a mess, gun rights aren’t going anywhere, both of them could care less about whether or not you have a gun that’s obsolete to the military weapons they could use against you if crisis really came to this country.

For 8 years Republicans in gov’t were trash, and we’re already realizing that Democrats in gov’t are trash, give up on both of them for the good of your country and the good of your soul.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Well, I don’t even like guns and would not want to own one. I also think that certain types of guns are unnecessary.
That said, I do not think that guns should be made illegal. I don’t think that law-abiding citizens should be the only unarmed people!
I am with David, who lives in NYC and believes in guns but does not have one. My brother can legally carry a gun in his occupation, but prefers not to, seeing that it most likely only invites trouble.

Posted by Fran | Report as abusive

Very well written commentary. Numbers are great, especially the average full-time worker’s wage vs. CEO.

Posted by DCX2 | Report as abusive

The government has driven fear relentlessly upwards pitting citizens against businesses, when if one would open their eyes to see the truth, this government is in the process of a huge undaunting power grab. Our freedoms are top on the agenda. AIG did what it was guided to by this administration. Text had been written into the bill to keep the bonuses down, but when the two-bipartisan senators(sincerely hoping to rescue the public from this mess)walked out of the room, this administration went hastily to strip the language out so that the bank could barrell full speed ahead and do what this president hoped they would do. He knew it would be a perfect setting to stir up a little class hatred. It worked. The banks unwittingly did as they THOUGHT the contract specified, and the administration had instructed —months earlier–This is not a new issue. There are audio clips all over of different senators months prior to this saying that they did not want the bonuses to go out, but the administration was saying they had to go out. The president, Geithner, Dodd, Pelosi, Emanuel knew, as did the senators that this was a problem for months. But the administration has the audacity to pretend like this was something new and those “bad ole’ businessmen need to be punished for their greed”—America, taxpayers, media, you have been duped—again. Open your eyes and see that the fruit that is on the tree will identify what type of tree it is. There have been national guard sent to Alabama, and Iowa to do drills to start practicing searches and seisures in the civilian areas, they were cancelled when questioned–for a better time. Isnt’t it strange that one business after another is attacked by this administration? Even the entities that the government has set in place to protect our borders ICE has been attacked by Pelosi, who also believes we should start cutting back on the number of children we have. Most families I know have one or two children, then they adopt. Instead of limiting the number of children solid families have, maybe we should start some program that would help teach teens to respect themselves, and others. Whereby they would be less likely to behave badly. Long way to go here I know. Unless you want to take parenting away from strong adults who will build up thinking children, and place reproduction into the hands of children who will look to the government to take control of the next generation’s education, moral training, placement of trust in government alone, not on the individual, which very well looks like this administrations agenda. Take control of the individual, make them dependent on the government, take the business make it dependent on the government, and take the military destroy the their honor then use them against the citizens they were to protect in the first place. Spend so much money, print so much paper that there is no way, this president or the next(if there will be another)will ever get us out of this. China is buying our debt, royals are buying our debt, Russia says we will never be viable ever again. Another trillion was just printed, and we are suppose to have more “stimulus” and more “bailouts” to come says the president. This is no slope, it is a narrow road, with a sheer cliff down one side. This president instead of taking the narrow road, has dediced he wants to take this nation, now his, down the sheer cliff. It was a decision in the beginning, and it can be changed. It depends of if he wants to continue to breed hate, violence to prove his point of class warfare, race warfare to meet his goals, or will he have a change of heart to allow America be the great nation it can be. This is a nation of innovators, we think on our feet. But if he continues to say he didn’t know about Aig bonuses, never heard of them, just popped up with out his knowledge, they took advantage of HIM, we have to realize we will get no help from him. The only reason we will survive this as a free nation will be the industriousness of our businessmen and women, the tenacity of the individual citizen to not let our nation be destroyed. Our hope is in our God and each of our personal resiliance. There have been too many lies-there has been bipartisan agreement on this, the administration has hidden lies, and covered them up, and then changed the story. The media is not covering it, we have to go to the internet to get the truth. The audios of senators conversation about the AIG bonuses are very telling…bipartisanly the fought the keep them from going out, months before it actually happened. They wrote guidelines to limit them and the administration took the text out of the bill just after it was done. Senator Dodd spoke of this, it was taken out by the administration –so they dealt with it,, how could they have been surprised about it??? They knew about it for months, had argued with conservative democrats and republican, libertarians…when it come out all of a sudden the administration had no idea it was there? No.

Posted by Karen | Report as abusive

I keep waiting for one of these financial institution CFO’s, CEO’s, managers, whatever, to really cash in by pretending to actually care about all of us they’ve screwed. All they’d have to do is pull a big publicity stunt, donate 1/10th of their fortunes to charity, and rake in the free press. But they’re too greedy to even see that. I also love the latest amazing excuse that bonuses must be handed out to more of these clowns to prevent them from going somewhere else. Right. No bonus, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, go screw something else up somewhere else. There’s a no-brainer.

Posted by FreeAdvice | Report as abusive

Guns are wrong! Dead wrong! Only dangerous and basically greedy people own and shoot guns! For example, those U.S. citizens who today sell Guns to Mexican Drug Cartels in exchange for both money and drugs. Watch the following animated political cartoon from Mark Fiore for a better understanding of the horrific problem the U.S. is currently having with Guns, and I have one final suggestion. I suggest the new U.S. government shut down the Gun manufacturing plants now proliferating on the U.S. Mexican border.

http://www.markfiore.com/gringo guns

Say what you like you lawyered up locked in secluded living getalongs, for an awful lot of folks, a gun is the one piece of property without which they will never have another.

70,000,000 Americans own, shoot, and handle guns every day. And, even more live in a household with a gun owner. 99% are responsible and moral citizens who have the will and ability to protect their own lives, their families, and their freedom. Slandering these decent honorable men and women is wrong.

Posted by Rusty Wallace | Report as abusive

People are buying guns in fear of having their second Amendment right taken away. It’s not guns that are the problem it is the education of their use. Also the government is supposed to provide it’s people with protection and if some people feel safer with guns then so be it.
Tightening the access to guns only hurts law-abiding citizens. If a criminal wants a gun, even with the restrictions he can get it from the black market.

Posted by Willis Honeycutt | Report as abusive

Mr. Raglione,

Apparently you have never read a history book. You might start with what happened to Germany once Adolf Hitler banned private ownership of firearms. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of Hitler? Or perhaps Mussolini? Good luck with your astounding ignorance and one-sided viewpoints, when the balloon goes up, you’ll need it.

Regarding the other part of the article – Mr. Debusmann, what’s your point? That our economy and politicians are so bankrupt and our situation without hopr that we feel the need to protect ourselves by any means we see fit? Or, are you just using the current economic crisis to wave the anti-gun flag?

Posted by Andrew Schmidt | Report as abusive

As long as it takes the sheriffs department 35 minutes to get to my house at night when there are intruders on my property, I’ll want a gun. My husband was in the hospital and I came home alone to find someone in the barn (garage) The gun blast had them skittering away and I haven’t had them visit again!

People are all in different circumstances and different places and there will never be a one size fits all solution to ANY problem.

Posted by Anne | Report as abusive

How can there be tent-cities of homeless people in the US when there are so many foreclosed or unsold new-builds standing empty? That is a crime!

How can the banks morally perpetrate this, and the authorities allow it, with the attendant risks of violence and damage to peoples’ health from poor living conditions, which, in the least personal terms, will be a cost to the US economy?

Shelter, and hence Security of Body, are No 2 in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs!

Posted by Disgusted | Report as abusive

Just FYI. Guns don’t kill people. People do. So you gun haters better buy before they run out. Just in case. Because the time to buy a gun is before you need it. NOt after the fact. However, my biggest concern is Government confiscation of our liberties. Not social unrest. My only consolation at the moment is that these clowns in Washington are as smart as a bag of hammers, including the President. For a Harvard Graduate, he sure is doing stupid things. And if I hear one more time that “This is hard” and “I inherited a mess” and “We need to invest for the long term”. The word investing coming from the mouth of a Democrat translates to “Spending other peoples money by the boat load”. We have spent more in the last 50 days than we have spent in the last 50 years and that doens’t include this HUMOGOUS budget that President Obama is trying to crame down our throats.

Posted by Markfm Georgia | Report as abusive

The purchase of guns is up early in 2009 because people are anticipating anti-gun legislation from liberal gov’t.

Posted by John Dowd | Report as abusive

The writer should do some more research before writing this article – writing:

“Gun sales shot up almost immediately after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential elections on November 4 and firearm enthusiasts rushed to stores, fearing he would tighten gun controls despite campaign pledges to the contrary.”

undermines the writer’s credibility. Maybe he should listen to what the Att. Gen. proposed several weeks back -more GUN CONTROL!! Luckly, congress wants nothing to do with it. I hope democracts think back to 1994 when they even think about any more gun control.

Posted by WGB | Report as abusive

Is there no more middle ground in this country? Why must we polarize rather than take part in constructive arguments. Neither side posting here seem to have any facts. Just propaganda and hype. Live your life in fear. Keep your kids hidden. Be afraid be very afraid. Let the politicians keep you fighting each other. Lets remain distracted. Pure insanity… and embarrassing.

Posted by Matt T | Report as abusive

I blame the Dem’s and the Republicans. First the ugly mood of blame and finger pointing (at it’s current level) was set off by Al Gore and the Democrat’s desire to portray the presidency of Bush as illegitimate. We have always had finger pointing and politics, but the Dem’s and Pelosi took it to a new level.

The Republicans utterly failed to control spending and right or wrong, they are equated to the Executive Suite of most companies. The gap between rich and poor has widened and greed is out of all proportion (if it ever had any).

In short, we are in this mess because both sides have failed us. Liberal or Conservative, you all need to take 2 steps back from your respective manifestos and really ask yourself if your actions are : moral, legal, and for the common good. That includes both Bill’s (O’reily and Maher), Pelosi/Gingrich, McConnel/Reid – everyone.

I dare to dream.

Posted by KB | Report as abusive

“Tent cities for the homeless have expanded outside a string of American cities, from Sacramento and Phoenix to Atlanta and Seattle, for people who are living the American dream in reverse. First they lose their jobs, then their health insurance, then their homes, then their hopes. The encampments are reminiscent of Third World refugee camps.”

ANOTHER INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST REPORTER STRIKES AGAIN. These places have 100-150 people in them TOTAL. Who in their right mind calls that a CITY?! Only someone trying to make a mountain out of a molehill; only someone pushing an agenda. Third World refugee camps?! PLEASE GET A CLUE!

Posted by David Andersen | Report as abusive

Buy more ammo.

Posted by Cogs | Report as abusive

Don’t stupid, unemployed, broke people vote Democrat anyway? Surely a “tent city” (some hyperbole, that) is a ripe recruiting ground to swell the ranks of the left-wing, American voter. Yes, the Leftist likes to consider himself the intellectual, the hipster, the anti-yokel. But he never admits to the oligarchy in his ideology: a few effete, college indoctrinated children of privilege supported by millions of utter dolts. Consider the number of rural idiot-yokels the left-wing champion mocks while ignoring completely the millions of urban yokels that make up his party. It would be interesting to do a survey investigating the correlation between party voter registration and home foreclosures. We all know how that’d end up.

Posted by JDW | Report as abusive

Would those who feel the desperate need to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, at least acknowledge that until they agree to some reasonable restrictions guaranteeing that their arms do not fall into the wrong hands, there is blood on their hands from the slaughter of the four law enforcement officers in Oakland this week?

Posted by TWC | Report as abusive

If guns made people safe, then Afghanistan and Iraq would be the safest places in the world.
The gun buying trend is just a curious statistical blip caused by a gun-toting American public expressing its childish Rambo fantasies in the face of overly trumped up fears about a new government.
The real problems are many, our endless thirst for drugs, our neverending personal greed, our inability to vote in people who serve our interests, and our lack of vigilance in protecting whats right.
We are letting rich people run this country into the ground, and yet we are too busy waiting to jump back into the stock market because we aren’t satisfied with the 2 percent return on our savings in bank CD’s.
Our priorities are out of whack.

Posted by Rick Cain | Report as abusive

This is a harbinger of the upturn coming soon. Firearms are an important part of the American industrial and manufacturing base. Buy American.

BTW, sales of new homes and durable goods are up, too.

Posted by MarkInAustin | Report as abusive

Yes, the increase in gun sales should have been expected among the far right talk-radio crowd. They are truly scary people, living in a fantasy world that George Bush propped up for them. I do hope and believe that most victims of the current mess (those who have lost their homes and jobs) will realize that Bush and his cronies are entirely responsible.

Posted by charles griner | Report as abusive

Who is John Galt?

Posted by JG | Report as abusive

Perhaps we should all learn to be more community oriented and help one another out instead of living in our little isolated bubbles of fear.

Posted by russell | Report as abusive

the continued acrimony between the so called right and left in our country is disturbing and destructive.

let’s stop attacking each other. the current economy is enough of a challenge without resorting to a senseless blame game.

ignacio

Posted by ignacio | Report as abusive

The congressional oversight committee has said that the 10 trillion that Obama’s budget will create is unsustainable. Unsustainable! Learn to hunt, gather and barter.

Obama’s Treasury Secretary (who wants to add to his power) was apart of making the retention bonuses a reality.

We are going to be the USSR, start the queue

It will be at this point that I believe Atlas will Shrug…

Posted by Jefferson | Report as abusive

What a fanciful column, with its foreboding gloom of “tent cities”. The author’s socialist bent is tipped off by his lament about the auto workers being required to renegotiate their contracts. Why should they have to do this? Because they can’t hope to keep selling cars if they don’t, Einstein.

Posted by JPB | Report as abusive

People always wonder why Americans are so obsessed with guns, but it’s very simple: We want to be in control of our govt and country. The govt is there to serve the needs of the people, but power corrupts. And so if the people have no weapons, and the govt has an army, then I hate to tell you but the people are now serving the govt instead of the other way around. I don’t think it’s a “dark or dangerous mindset”… it’s just pragmatic.

Posted by OpenMinded | Report as abusive

Whatever happened to compassion? Whatever happened to helping our neighbor?
Whatever happened to working together to find new ways out of our problems besides shooting people? It is this philosophy that keeps us at war in the world. Has anyone stopped to think what could be done with the same amount of money & man/woman power that a war uses for peaceful and humanitarian endeavors? Yes, to quote John Lennon “call me a dreamer….but I’m not the only one!” May we who believe in the power of peace and love compassion find our own ways to heal our country of its wrongs and help make the world a better place. We can show the world a better way to handle our problems, many self-created! Greed has caused us so much misery! May these hard times awaken us to the best that we can be!

Posted by Carol Daugherty | Report as abusive

You can’t cheat an honest man. People who took out mortgages when they could not afford the repayments, who kept refinancing, to live the good life; let them try tent city for a while. As to the absence of street violence: that may be a direct result of having all those guns in peoples homes and businesses. If I saw a group of hooligans burning cars in the street near my house as in France, Greece, or Spain, I would litter the street with dead bodies and feel no remorse whatsoever.