Tragedy in Buckman and Sunnyside

It's been a rough couple of days here in Portlandia. The other day a deranged 64-year-old man went on a rampage running pedestrians and cyclists over with his car. He did it racing through a nice middle-class residential area in the close-in southeast part of town. (I lived over there for a couple of years.) One of the pedestrians he hit, died. A half dozen or so others were injured. It went on for quite a while. Terrifying.

The cops say it wasn't political or terrorism, that sort of thing. But in a way, it was political, of course it was. The person is mentally ill, and our society has no resources for people like him any more. Starting ahout 40 years ago, we let all of that go, on the premise that mental "institutions" were cruel and heartless.

And that may have been true. But now a lot of those people are living in tents on our streets, or losing it in their own little private hells. Talk about heartlessness.

It would cost a lot of money to fix this. And the people with the money aren't giving it up. All they know is, mental health is expensive.

The accused murderer in this case gave a home address in Oregon City, which is a suburb quite a ways down the road. Who knows what his living conditions might have been? But one thing is certain: He needed help, and without it, he was extremely dangerous, even to innocent people many miles away. And this is far from being an extraordinary case.

Anyway, like many others, I'm feeling pain for the lives lost and damaged. We've failed the victims pretty badly. They were just walking down the street.