In his latest New York Times column David Brooks laments at how badly we’re behaving:
In June a statistic floated across my desk that startled me. In 2020, the number of miles Americans drove fell 13 percent because of the pandemic, but the number of traffic deaths rose 7 percent.
I couldn’t figure it out. Why would Americans be driving so much more recklessly during the pandemic? But then in the first half of 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle deaths were up 18.4 percent even over 2020. Contributing factors, according to the agency, included driving under the influence, speeding and failure to wear a seatbelt.
Why are so many Americans driving irresponsibly?
While gloomy numbers like these were rattling around in my brain, a Substack article from Matthew Yglesias hit my inbox this week. It was titled, “All Kinds of Bad Behavior Is on the Rise.” Not only is reckless driving on the rise, Yglesias pointed out, but the number of altercations on airplanes has exploded, the murder rate is surging in cities, drug overdoses are increasing, Americans are drinking more, nurses say patients are getting more abusive, and so on and so on.
Yglesias is right.
Mr. Brooks has no explanation for how badly we’re behaving. I’m open to suggestions.
Let me provide a few of the more egregious examples of bad behavior:
Woman kills her child, dumps body
Four guys arguing in shopping mall, start shooting at each other
TikTok challenges encouraging violence (multiple)
Incidents of violence by air passengers (multiple)
I think these people are feral and there are lots and lots of them.