There have been two mass shootings in the last week, and I find myself unhappily noticing a common thread between them.
In the Las Vegas courthouse shooting that left one guard and the gunman dead and another guard wounded, the shooter’s grievance was that he had been denied increased Social Security benefits.
Then, this week, in St. Louis, a worker at a transformer manufacturing plant (the electrical component, not the giant robot) involved in a pension funding dispute killed three people, then himself.
In both cases, the shooters were older men (the Vegas shooter was 66, the St. Louis gunman 51) whose murderous rampages were triggered by concerns about their retirement.
Both fit, roughly, into the generation known as “baby boomers,” often described as “the most entitled generation.”
So here we have a rather unfortunate confluence of events: a whole class of aging, entitled people having to face their own mortality and coming to face the reality that their twilight years — thanks to a struggling economy and their own lack of foresight — and snapping.
Two incidents is a very, very slender reed to base an entire theory upon, but this is one of those cases where it seems circumstances are conspiring into a perfect storm.
Are there any solutions to this situation? Or even ways to minimize it? Is it even a real problem? I dunno. I’m just seeing a few things and drawing a few connections.
There are other, far less ominous signs of this. For example, Bill Clinton. The first “baby boomer” president — he achieved the greatest achievement any American can aspire to. And then, at the age of 55, he found himself out of a job and no future in the career he had pursued from childhood. Statistically speaking, he had a good third of his life ahead of him — and he’d already “done it all.” So he started looking into other ways to stay involved in politics — helping his wife have her own political career, starting foundations, attaching himself to causes, and the like. It all boils down to a quest to stay relevant and active and involved after eight years of being the most powerful man on earth, and avoiding the horrifying (to him) “didn’t you used to be…” syndrome.
Bill Clinton keeps on involving himself in politics. The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith keep on touring. And some people just snap and start shooting.
Why don’t you all fade away
And don’t try to dig what we all say…
Things they do look awful cold
Hope I die before I get old.
(Title shamelessly lifted from Christopher Buckley’s brutally funny novel)