The continuing examinations of the life of Jared Loughner don’t make me angrier, they make me sadder. The New York Times leads today (link corrected) with news that law officers had been called to the family’s home several times. Might be something. Might be nothing. But read on. A portrait emerges of an isolated family, of wary neighbors, of the suspect’s nihilist world view.

There remains politicization to be done here. Among the many issues the massacre raises for discussion is, as David Brooks brought up yesterday, our treatment of the mentally ill. It can be frightfully expensive and it’s not quite so easy as prescribing an antibiotic or stitching up a gash. But a compassionate, efficient and beneficial government would include comprehensive mental health services as part of single-payer health coverage for all who live here. We’d first, of course, have to convince a lot of people that mental health shouldn’t be pushed into the shadows.

No, there’s no guarantee the Loughgren family would have found a therapeutic balm had the U.S. been a social democracy with ready services for disturbed people as well as the physically sick. Just as there’s no guarantee Jared Loughner wouldn’t have found another killing machine had limits on weaponry and ammo clips been continued by Congress in 2004. That’s a thin argument against doing better to promote the general welfare.

(apologies for my early morning disconnect on correct spelling of suspect’s name, now corrected.)