In a country that has hundreds of millions of guns lying around, it’s hard to stop a dedicated, competent individual with a long time horizon and no fear of death or prison from acquiring guns.
But a lot of these shooters don’t sound like unstoppable killing machines from the future, they sound like losers mentally buffeted about by intermittent whims of rage and criminal insanity.
With some, perhaps if they can’t go down to the store and buy some guns right now, they’ll come up with some other vile but less lethal thing to do to pass the time instead. Sure they could buy guns on the black market, but that takes more work to make contacts and it takes some personal face time. And a lot of the mass shooters don’t seem to be career criminal types with lots of contacts with dealers in the illegal firearms trade, they seem more like middle class problem children who don’t get out that much.
What if we had a giant bureaucracy that ceaselessly tried to measure how stable, reliable, trustworthy, and future-oriented practically every individual in the country was?
Maybe that’s a good idea, or maybe that’s a bad idea. But it also sounds expensive to create one just to slow down a few mass shooters per year.
Except … we already have not just one, but three giant bureaucracies that are constantly measuring individuals’ stability: the credit score bureaus.
Here’s an idea worth researching: what were the credit scores of each of the last 50 mass shooters who bought their guns at the time they bought them?
My guess would be that a lot of the shooters either didn’t have an individual credit score or had a quite low one.
I don’t know that’s true, but it’s something that could be measured.
It wouldn’t hurt to check into the credit scores of people who shoot 7-11 clerks or their loved ones, too.
Comments to Steve Sailer:
* Gary Shteyngart’s near-future dystopian novel Super Sad True Love Story (2010) incorporates this notion. Credit Poles (I think they’re called) display the credit scores of everyone within a certain radius.
The book is a very good read. And it’s of course eerie to note how much of it is already coming to pass in the parallel universe we inhabit.
By now, you surely know that your credit score is a key to your your financial well being, influencing factors like the interest rate you’ll be charged for a home mortgage, a cell phone plan, insurance or car loan.
But now there are new, unsettling reports about how China is using consumers’ credit scores to also determine their political trustworthiness and social status.
The new credit-rating system was launched in China this past summer and is run by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA) and the Chinese holding company Tencent, according to China Daily Asia. The publication also noted the new system uses a variety of data to determine credit scores, including “a person’s hobbies, interaction with friends, shopping habits and lifestyle.”
However, as Rick Falkvinge recently blogged at privateinternetaccess.com, the Chinese credit score isn’t affected by only what you purchase.
“If you’re buying things that the regime appreciates, like dishwashers and baby supplies,” he wrote, “your credit score increases. If you’re buying video games, your score takes a negative hit.”
Other factors that can drive down a credit score on the Chinese system are no-no’s such as posting political opinions online without permission or describing controversial current events — such as the recent Chinese stock market collapse — in ways that differ from the official government version.
“But the kicker is that if any of your friends do this — publish opinions without prior permission, or report accurate but embarrassing news — your score will also deteriorate,” Falkvinge continued. “And this will have a direct impact on your quality of life.”
Calls and emails to Alibaba’s U.S. offices for comment on that report were not returned.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is looking at the Chinese credit system and wondering if it might become a blueprint for future uses of the credit score system in America. After all, new research from the U.S. Federal Reserve, for example, has found that credit scores can help predict a person’s ability to commit to a stable, long-term relationship like marriage.
However, the chances of an abusive, Chinese-style credit score/surveillance system in the U.S. in the near future are nil, according to ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley.