Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech

I'm still flabbergasted by the massacre at Virginia Tech. There's such an obvious pattern: the angry young man; the coldness of his appearance and actions during the massacre; the narcissistic lack of any kind of compassion for the victims; the determination to drive the body count as high as possible; the suicide that ended the massacre and denied any of the closure that might come from an explanation of the inexplicable.
Hannah Arendt wrote convincingly of the banality of evil, of how evil is not some sort of "out there" anomaly, but within most of us in some measure. In societies where people do not respect the rule of law and the rights of each other, this evil surfaces. In Nazi Germany, as Arendt points out, there was no shortage of banal, evil people to work for the Gestapo, run the concentration camps, to handle the loot stolen from the Jews, and to exploit and terrorize the occupied countries.
As of early Tuesday, there were no details about the Virginia Tech killer, but, if the pattern holds, he was young. He was angry, but not overtly so, and didn't draw much attention to himself. In short, he was relatively "normal". And, since there have been been about 100 "school shootings" in modern history, he has become "normal", or, at least, typical of the kind of man who does this kind of thing.


nomdeblog said...

This doesn’t add up. The former aid to Harper is with Merck. However, Merck used Hill and Knolton to make the presentations to the government.

Besides, Merck is one of the world’s largest drug companies. The very large contract is for $300 million. Why does lobbying have anything to do with this? Something as large as this doesn’t even need lobbying “to get an appointment”. It is normal buying and selling between entities.

I have no idea if the purchase is a good idea or not, that should be determined by debate within government and experts should be called upon as required.

Lobbying isn’t going to go away and I don’t care what they lobby for as long as I’m not paying for the lobbying and as long as registration and the rest of the ethics procedures are followed, i.e. no salmon fishing trips given to the procurement government guys by Merck (see the Wal-Mart Manuel).

But Merck talking to the government is not a bad thing. Pharmaceuticals will be a massively growing part of Heath Care expenditures; we will see more of this.

Meanwhile, I would like to see more debate on the pros and cons of the purchase with input by experts, that is what an opposition party is for, to get at the whether or not the decision is a good one. Lobbying in this case is a red herring, Parliament should focus on the merits of the deal.

nomdeblog said...

Sorry , I should have posted this on the previous thread

Ottawa Watch said...

I don't have a problem with Merck talkimg to the government. I do have a problem with the growing army of politically-connected influence peddlers who sell access at all three levels of government. These people are not only trading on favors, they are replacing MPs as the gatekeepers and go-to people.

nomdeblog said...

“they are replacing MPs as the gatekeepers and go-to people.”

Agreed, that going direct is preferable in theory, but when governments represent 42% of our GDP, that takes a lot of “gatekeeping”.

Maybe we need to get at what Preston Manning called the root cause ..shrink government. But that’s not likely to happen until the mandate for the second majority of Conservative government.

By which time Conservatives will have “pretty much gone native” .. so we’ve gone full circle on this .. you were right .. I should just take notes from the Prof and try to pass … :>)

Ottawa Watch said...

Surely we can do a bit of both.
Whe have lobbyists hustling government contracts, lobbyists pushing for regulatory changes, and lobbyists running political campaigns. That's way too much for my liking.