Tags: america | violence | statistics | inequality | france

Violence in America as Viewed By French Opinion Makers

Violence in America as Viewed By French Opinion Makers

By Thursday, 05 July 2018 01:34 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Here are questions from outside the country addressed to Mr. Trump and his supporters, and of course to any and all who now or after the midterm elections share in the power to govern.

The noise and political gun control controversies leaves onlookers sufficiently perplexed and frustrated to simply assume, for the sake of understanding, that political considerations will block any meaningful reform and that America having more guns and attack weapons out there in the hands of millions of citizens is simply a fact that is inscribed in stone for the foreseeable future.

Taking gun control off the table, the starting point for any attempt at understanding violence in America begins, nevertheless, with plain facts and the plain fact (not a fake fact) is that America is the number one mass shooting country in the world, with almost 60 times as many shootings as the rest of the G7 countries combined. For example our 288 shootings since 2009 compares to Canada’s two and France’s two. In 2018 there have been as many mass shootings, 177, as days in the year.

These questions then are not off the table:

Proportionally to our population:

Do we have more psychologically unstable people?
Do we have more people prone to violence?
Do we have more people in prison for violence?
Do we have more cases of domestic and workplace related violence than elsewhere?
Do we have more gang fatalities?
Do we have more hate speech and incitement to violence on the net?
Do we have more threats of violence reported to the police but without further action because threats aren’t in most States a crime?
Do we have more rallies where there is hate speech and threats of violence and confrontations?
Do we have political leaders who in campaign speeches encourage supporters to physically attack non-supporters?

If the answer to these questions is "yes" right along the line, then we cannot escape the Big question: WHY?

Psychologists, sociologists, criminologists, anthropologists.... all seem to agree on the following.

First there is no definite or simple explanation.

But second there are elements in the social and economic environment that exist in America that taken together or even considered individually help provide an explanation.

In America during this July 4 week when we celebrate the birth of our country we in fact also celebrate all citizens having been vested with a right to be happy. That is part of the American creed. Our founding document, our "Declaration of Independence," declares the Pursuit of Happiness as a right.

This promise of happiness, unique to America because appearing nowhere in the founding doctrine of other countries can only be understood in the context of another American first.

Our country was established as independent from Great Britain but also to break free from the privileges that existed in almost every society in the world where good fortune was not to come proportionally to ingrained social position depending on birth. An example of how different we were is that many of our States were denominated Commonwealths, implying that the wealth was a common heritage.

With such an enormous break with history the promise of happiness and prosperity became a beacon to the world.

However our Statute of Liberty and Liberty bell symbolizing this great promise is also a challenge and a burden.

The promise, the hope, has been on the one hand the driving force for certain of our citizens to become enormously rich and whom without question contribute to the economic strength of the country.

But also this promise left unfulfilled for so many becomes a breeding ground for discontent which increases dramatically when the divisions of those for whom the promise was real and those for whom it was only an illusion increase at a speed rarely documented in history.

The slow downward sliding slope toward inequality accelerated somewhere in the 80’s. In the 1970’s the top 10 percent held approximately 35 percent of total wealth. Today this same upper group holds 75 percent.

An astounding statistic is that our wealthiest 0.1 percent holds as much household wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Economists, political scientists, and historians, whether conservative or liberal, are in agreement that too wide a disparity in wealth distribution has negative consequences for social and political stability.

The connection between criminality and income inequality is so strong that, according to the World Bank, inequality predicts about half of the variance in murder rates between American states and between countries around the world.

This general conclusion takes on disproportionate significance when America, the land of hope and opportunity, is the worst offender of G7 countries.

Inequality strips large numbers of men of the usual markers of status — like a good job and the ability to support a family and matters of respect and disrespect loom disproportionately.

Although it is certain that we are not alone and other countries are also faced with similar challenges, not unrelated to accelerated population growth, we are the beacon.

We defined the promise and the hope not just for ourselves but for the world.

The ways forward are varied and the source of political controversy.

The cry for progress toward solving the problem of violence and the downward trend in satisfying the hopes of so many is much stronger than any one or other political strategy or political party platform.

This is not a question of Left versus Right.

Each side can be certain that “It” holds the truth.

But the entire political establishment will be guilty and held responsible and suffer the consequences of violating the American promise if nothing happens.

But we all know that education, healthcare, infrastructure, inner city housing, job training, immigration, criminal justice malfunctioning, and also fair taxation and social security all are issues that if not addressed will accelerate even further the drift downward from the great prosperity that followed the allied victory in World War II.

Making America great again is a patriotic message that resonates in the media.

“Make the quality of life for the middle most American great again” is harder to sell as a campaign slogan but more closely in line with the real challenge.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l’EDHEC. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Here are questions from outside the country addressed to Mr. Trump and his supporters, and of course to any and all who now or after the midterm elections share in the power to govern.
america, violence, statistics, inequality, france
Thursday, 05 July 2018 01:34 PM
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