The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

America reacts.

Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Arizona, was shot and critically wounded yesterday in an attack in Tucson that left six others dead and 12 injured. The gunman, a 22-year-old man named Jared Lee Loughner, has been been arrested.

President Obama described Giffords as "an extraordinary public servant".

Michael Tomasky, who writes about American politics for the Guardian, issued what he called a "bs alert" last night. He reminded readers that Giffords's office windows had been broken in the summer of 2009, when the debate over Obama's health-care reforms was at its most virulent. We should keep an eye open therefore, he argued, for:

any signs of coverage that deplores the shooting but says something like, "Of course, there IS a lot of anger out there, so . . ." You won't hear that today. But keep an ear out for it Sunday, and Monday. As if there's a rationale for something like this. Just keep an ear out.

Alex Hannaford, also on the Guardian's website, noted that a comment left on Sarah Palin's Facebook page appeared to confirm Tomasky's worst fears: "This will be another avenue for gun control groups to further their sick agenda." Meteor Blades, writing at the liberal Daily Kos blog, sees Gifford's shooting as the American right's incendiary rhetoric made flesh:

Those whose violent, eliminationist rhetoric has polluted the airwaves and other media for the past couple of decades, ramping itself up a little more each year, especially with the arrival of an African American in the White House, are, of course, denying that the shootings of a congresswoman, a judge, a child and bystanders on a street corner in Arizona have anything to do with their savage words. No surprise. One thing they're good at is refusing to accept any responsibility for the consequences of this murderous talk, whether it's Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building or Scott Roeder assassinating a doctor.

Andrew Sullivan live-blogged the reaction to the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords, and observed that much of the language used by the shooter in a video testament posted on YouTube is "like a parody of a Ron Paul supporter".

Meanwhile, the right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds fulminated against liberals who, he claims, have seen in the shooting an opportunity to save Barack Obama's faltering presidency by "defaming his opposition". Other conservative bloggers and commentators have singled out for particular opprobrium Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's liberal talking head, who took to the screens last night to make what one would have thought was an uncontroversial plea to his fellow Americans to "put the guns down".

You can watch Olbermann's nine-minute comment on the Giffords shooting here:

 

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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In your 30s? You missed out on £26,000 and you're not even protesting

The 1980s kids seem resigned to their fate - for now. 

Imagine you’re in your thirties, and you’re renting in a shared house, on roughly the same pay you earned five years ago. Now imagine you have a friend, also in their thirties. This friend owns their own home, gets pay rises every year and has a more generous pension to beat. In fact, they are twice as rich as you. 

When you try to talk about how worried you are about your financial situation, the friend shrugs and says: “I was in that situation too.”

Un-friend, right? But this is, in fact, reality. A study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that Brits in their early thirties have a median wealth of £27,000. But ten years ago, a thirty something had £53,000. In other words, that unbearable friend is just someone exactly the same as you, who is now in their forties. 

Not only do Brits born in the early 1980s have half the wealth they would have had if they were born in the 1970s, but they are the first generation to be in this position since World War II.  According to the IFS study, each cohort has got progressively richer. But then, just as the 1980s kids were reaching adulthood, a couple of things happened at once.

House prices raced ahead of wages. Employers made pensions less generous. And, at the crucial point that the 1980s kids were finding their feet in the jobs market, the recession struck. The 1980s kids didn’t manage to buy homes in time to take advantage of low mortgage rates. Instead, they are stuck paying increasing amounts of rent. 

If the wealth distribution between someone in their 30s and someone in their 40s is stark, this is only the starting point in intergenerational inequality. The IFS expects pensioners’ incomes to race ahead of workers in the coming decade. 

So why, given this unprecedented reversal in fortunes, are Brits in their early thirties not marching in the streets? Why are they not burning tyres outside the Treasury while shouting: “Give us out £26k back?” 

The obvious fact that no one is going to be protesting their granny’s good fortune aside, it seems one reason for the 1980s kids’ resignation is they are still in denial. One thirty something wrote to The Staggers that the idea of being able to buy a house had become too abstract to worry about. Instead:

“You just try and get through this month and then worry about next month, which is probably self-defeating, but I think it's quite tough to get in the mindset that you're going to put something by so maybe in 10 years you can buy a shoebox a two-hour train ride from where you actually want to be.”

Another reflected that “people keep saying ‘something will turn up’”.

The Staggers turned to our resident thirty something, Yo Zushi, for his thoughts. He agreed with the IFS analysis that the recession mattered:

"We were spoiled by an artificially inflated balloon of cheap credit and growing up was something you did… later. Then the crash came in 2007-2008, and it became something we couldn’t afford to do. 

I would have got round to becoming comfortably off, I tell myself, had I been given another ten years of amoral capitalist boom to do so. Many of those who were born in the early 1970s drifted along, took a nap and woke up in possession of a house, all mod cons and a decent-paying job. But we slightly younger Gen X-ers followed in their slipstream and somehow fell off the edge. Oh well. "

Will the inertia of the1980s kids last? Perhaps – but Zushi sees in the support for Jeremy Corbyn, a swell of feeling at last. “Our lack of access to the life we were promised in our teens has woken many of us up to why things suck. That’s a good thing. 

“And now we have Corbyn to help sort it all out. That’s not meant sarcastically – I really think he’ll do it.”