I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic since the worker at the brewery in Connecticut went postal and killed eight people before shooting himself. 

Several years ago I read a book on this topic written by Mark Ames titled “A Brief History of Rage, Murder and Rebellion”.  A huge percentage of Americans today are living under tremendous stress due to the economy.  I can speak personally to this, however I am not one prone to violence and I certainly would not do anything that had a high probability that the end result would be me ending up dead.

So, every time I hear of one of these workplace massacres I wonder how many occurred that I did not hear of.  I don’t watch TV and I quit reading the newspaper when they stopped doing real news coverage.  So I get my news off the internet, which requires that I spend time doing searches to find the news and do my best to sort out facts from fiction.  Inevitably of course, this sort of news gathering leaves a few holes insofar as comprehensive news coverage.

All that said, workplace violence is real and it is increasing; what I find really interesting is that Mark Ames says it has not always existed.  There is even a website now, called “Workplace Violence News”.  Its website is located at: http://workplaceviolencenews.com/.  In their article titled “Experts: Many factors can contribute to workplace violence”, they state that “Nationwide, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that roughly 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence every year.”  There’s a creepy statistic for you.  They went on to add that “Experts said those who resort to violence of this sort are often set off by a mixture of personal and societal issues.”  Well, duh, I say. 

The final paragraph in the article stated “incidents like this are rare, and most people don’t respond to workplace stresses with gunfire.”  I might add, so far.  If the economy continues to deteriorate and corporations continue to lay off people and hire lower-paid employees oversees, I hate to think what the future holds. 

So, Mark Ames was interviewed in 2005 by Jan Frel and an article about the interview is on the Alternet.org website, titled “A Brief History of Rage, Murder and Rebellion”.  He was interviewed about his book, “Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion – From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond” (2005).

 Ames takes a systematic look at the scores of rage killings in our public schools and workplaces that have taken place over the past 25 years. He claims that instead of being the work of psychopaths, they were carried out by ordinary people who had suffered repeated humiliation, bullying and inhumane conditions that find their origins in the “Reagan Revolution.” Looking through a carefully researched historical lens, Ames recasts these rage killings as failed slave rebellions.”

“rage murders in the workplace never existed anywhere in history until Reagan came to power. Reagan made it respectable to be a mean, stupid bastard in this country. He is the patron saint of white suckers. He unleased Americas Heart of Vileness – its penchant for hating people who didn’t get rich, and worshipping people who despise them, and this is the essence of Reaganomics.”

“I hate to sound like a Clintonite here, but let’s remember Hillary Clinton became the most hated human being alive because she tried to give most Americans the opportunity to lead longer, healthier lives, while these same American adored goons like Sam Walton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump – everyone who had dedicated their life to transferring wealth, health and pleasure from the masses to a tiny elite. Liberals are hated in America precisely because they want to help people, which is seen as “patronizing.””

“You can see how this kind of cultural insanity, unleashed by Reaganomics after decades of New Deal (relative) harmony, could make someone snap, when the cognitive dissonance suddenly strikes on a very personal level, and you realize that you’ve been screwd hard by your own dominant ideology.”

Another article, titled “Death at the Supermarket” was posted on July 31, 2006 on the website “Economy”, it was written also by Mark Ames.  I thought the comments made by people interviewed after another workplace rampage were fascinating: “I can’t imagine this happening out here. It could happen anywhere.” This was how one employee, Raymond Rivas, reacted to the shooting – words that are a repeat of a repeat. This disbelief can be found in practially every article about a workplace massacre, word for word, going back to the first ones some 20 years ago.”

Ames writes: “The rage murder crime first appeared in the mid-late 1980’s when a rash of post office massacres by postal employees gave American slang a new term: “going postal”. Within a few years, post office massacres jumped like a virus to the private workplace, beginning with a disgruntled employee at a printing press in Louisville, Ky., who killed or wounded 20 co-workers in 1989 . . . and from there, the crime metastasized to the middle-class American schoolyards.” 

Ames writes that the media and the culture reacted as they always do, by focusing on the rampager and never questioning what was going on at their workplace or in society as a whole that would put the kind of pressure on a person to cause them to flip out and kill.

“If you consider the possibility that these crimes have socioeconomic cause, as does inner-city violence, then you find that much more is revealed by profiling the company where the massacre took place than by profiling the murderer.” – Ames

We are like the story that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water he will jump out immediately. But if you put him in a pot of warm water and gradually raise the temperature to boiling, he will not notice the incremental changes in temperature and will sit there and be cooked.  I contend that we are the frog in the second scenario.

What to do?  I am only a pawn in the game of life.  I cannot change American society and I even have serious doubts that my votes matter any more.  Some say that “Change starts with you”.  Yes, but it may also end with you, as you are only one person. 

Hey, but don’t forget to dance; you know what they say, “it’s not over until it is over”.

Remember the great philosopher, Douglas Adams and this quote from Marvin the robot: (Marvin, reflecting back on his 576,000,003,579 year career): The first ten million years were the worst, said Marvin, and the second ten million, they were the worst too. The third ten million I didn’t enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline.

The hamster never gives up