Listen, the Trump administration is all about thinking outside the proverbial box, ok?
That was on full display Thursday when Commerce Secretary (and man who will be happy to ignore your oppressive regime if you woo him with "two gigantic bushels of dates as a present") Wilbur Ross showed up on CNBC in animate form to answer Joe Kernen's question about asteroid mining.
Although scientists have generally avoided being too deterministic when it comes to answering very specific questions like "what is the actual time frame on mining mineral riches from asteroids?" and/or "how long until we build a Trump hotel and casino on Mars?", Wilbur was more than happy to explain that it all depends on "how successful we are in turning the moon into a kind of gas station for outer space."
Again, this is the kind of innovative thinking that's part and parcel of an administration that thinks the solution to immigration reform might well be building a 30-foot-tall border wall out of see-through solar panels (it needs to be see-through because "as horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff?")
Given their penchant for pushing the limits when it comes to exploring any and all options for tackling problems that have vexed previous administrations, and given how these issues are continually couched in language that makes it sound as though Trump and friends believe they somehow have turnkey solutions for some of the most insanely daunting obstacles facing humanity, it comes as no surprise that Donald Trump has "solved" school shootings with one tweet. Here, look:
See there? "Problem solved."
What we need are Chris Farley-style lunch ladies armed with Mossbergs and also unidentified "others" who are also armed to the teeth. Additionally, they need to be ready to start shooting "instantly" because you know what they say about mass shootings: "the best defense is a good offense" where "offense" means heavily armed, trigger-happy biology teachers draped in Kevlar and toting twin Desert Eagle 50 cals.
But listen, just because Trump has "solved" this problem doesn't mean there aren't details to be worked out. One of those details is how to pay for the training required to turn Mrs. Johnson from the English Department into Rambo.
Assuming we only endeavor to train 20% of America's teachers to properly handle the guns we'll be giving them, the cost could well run into the hundreds of millions. Here's WaPo:
Let’s say we want the bare minimum, just enough to pass the safety requirement for gun ownership. In Maryland, there’s a company that will charge you $100 for that training. The cost, then, would be about $71.8 million for all of our teachers.
There are groups that offer training specifically for teachers facing active-shooter scenarios. One is the Ohio-based Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response program (FASTER) run by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation. Its program is free for teachers, funded by corporate and individual donors. It includes 26 hours of training over three days and purports to “allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel on-site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately.”
In an email to The Washington Post, the group’s program director, Joe Eaton, said that the cost of the training is about $1,000 per trainee. It covers more than just a scenario in which a shooter is on campus, mind you, but that is part of the program.
That more robust training means that the cost for our 718,000 teachers spikes to $718 million. There would almost certainly be some efficiencies of scale that would come into play here — systems would be developed to train teachers quickly and at less cost — but the figure would still likely run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
So let's just be generous and call it a quarter of a billion dollars to turn 20% of America's school librarians into a make-shift SWAT team.
But that's just the training. You've got to buy the weapons too. And in a testament to how surreal this discussion has become, we're now being forced to speculate about whether Glock would be willing to offer a literal teacher discount. To wit, from the same WaPo piece:
Let’s consider the Glock G17, which the manufacturer touts as the world’s most popular pistol. It runs $500 apiece, meaning that our price tag for arming our teachers just went up by $359 million. Maybe Glock, too, would give the Department of Education a discount, perhaps cutting the price in half. That changes the total to $180 million.
Maybe we could get MS-13 (one of Trump's favorite talking points) to contribute to the cause by bidding competitively to supply the teachers with black market .357s. Although to be fair, I'm not sure Umberto is going to be able to fill that order. "How much for a tre pound ese?" "How many you need?" "Ummm.. 718,000 of them."
Of course hiring private security here would be vastly more expensive, but at least it negates some of the absurdity inherent in the lunch ladies with 9s discussion.
Speaking of things that are inherently absurd, as I was writing this, Trump was on the tape (again) with this:
- TRUMP PROPOSES BONUSES FOR TEACHERS THAT CARRY GUNS
Obviously, that will incentivize more teachers to carry guns because now, even if you were a teacher and you didn't like the idea, you're going to get a raise if you arm yourself.
Meanwhile, complicating this situation immeasurably is the fact that the very same teachers who are effectively being asked to lock and load are demanding that their pension plan sell off its gun stocks after learning that they are actually investors in the company that makes the AR-15 used in this month's shooting. Here's Bloomberg:
Florida teachers reacted viscerally to news that they’ve been paying into a retirement fund that invests in gun companies, including the maker of an assault rifle used to kill 17 Parkland high school students and educators last week.
They demanded Wednesday night that the state agency that manages the fund divest of those stocks immediately.
But hey, gunmakers shouldn't fret because as noted above, anything that gets shaved off their market cap will be recouped later when earnings get a boost from all those guns teachers are going to be buying with the bonus money Trump gives them for strappin' up before class.
And you know, obviously concerns about fiscal policy are secondary here, but I'd be remiss if I didn't note that just about the last thing America needs at a time when Steve Mnuchin is flooding the market with new debt to pay for an ill-timed foray into lunatic fiscal stimulus is a government-funded "guns for lunch ladies" program the cost of which could conceivably run into the billions.
I don't know, maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. I mean sure, these headlines seem absurd right now. But who will be the stupid one when mass shootings stop in America thanks to the administration's efforts to make Navy SEALs out of your favorite trig teachers?
In the same vein, who's going to be the stupid one when you're gassing up your Chevy on the moon at Wilbur's lunar Gas-N'-Go on your way to mine some of Joe Kernen's space minerals on Mars?
I'll be the stupid one, that's who.
Finally, if you're not on board with Trump's simple "solution" for mass shootings, well then you're encouraged to attend his $30 million military parade to awaken your fightin' spirit.