About every two hours a young person in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 24 dies of suicide. It wasn’t always this way. The suicide rate for young white males tripled between 1950 and 1994, and it doubled in that period for white females. Though the figures have dropped slightly since then, the rate remains high. In 1999, about 4,000 young people killed themselves.
A judging scandal at the Olympic ice-skating rink may have seemed to many little more than an entertaining diversion in a season of terrorism and recession. But there was an important moral issue behind the story of alleged collusion.
An accountant—so goes the joke—is someone who solves financial problems you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand. Doubtless the accountant jokes have gotten a lot nastier with news that the world’s largest accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, indulged in some unusually lax methods on behalf of the Enron corporation, apparently to retain lucrative consulting fees.
For months the American flag has been showing up on cars, porches, football helmets and basketball uniforms. The display has made us wonder about the meaning of this unprecedented—for this generation—expression of patriotism. It is, of course, a display of solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attacks and with the firefighters and police officers who tried to rescue them.
President Bush has told Congress to stop its “partisan bickering” and pass his economic stimulus package. But of course partisan politics is alive and well in Washington, however muted it is by the nation’s war on terrorism, and Bush himself is practicing it shrewdly, even a bit imperiously.
The growth in the number of civilians owning military-style guns can be traced back to a deal made in the mid-1980s between Rene Carlos Vos, a gun dealer, and Wayne LaPierre, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. They formed a company called Blue Sky to import from South Korea M-1 rifles that had been used in the Korean War. The legislation that made the project possible was an amendment to a Senate bill offered by Bob Dole, Republican senator from Kansas, which for the first time allowed the importation of U.S. military weapons as long as they were “curios and relics.” LaPierre soon pulled out of Blue Sky when it faced criminal charges, and Vos was killed in a plane crash in 1987, but the company opened a floodgate of guns. By 2012, one million of what gun advocates call “modern sporting rifles” were flooding the U.S. market each year, from both foreign and domestic sources (Washington Post, May 3).