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Raw Story

A depressed Florida man shot his wife and two children before killing himself after closing his hot air balloon business and facing losing his job as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector because of automatic budget cuts known as “sequestration.”

According to The Miami Herald, Carlos Zuniga was in the process of shutting down Winds Aloft Aviation Inc., a hot air balloon business that he had started with this wife in 2005. He had recently been taken a job as a aviation safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration. But the FAA is expected to be forced to furlough a “vast majority” of it’s employees because of automatic budget cuts in the so-called “sequester” if Congress does not act quickly.

“FAA is going to face a cut of roughly $600 million under sequester,” Office of Management and Budget controller Danny Werfel told a Senate committee last week. “A vast majority of their 47,000 employees will be furloughed for one day per pay period for the rest of the year, and, as importantly, this is going to reduce air traffic levels across the country, causing delays and disruptions for all travelers.”

Submitted with the solitary observation that the ugly political wrangling and threats issued by both sides in this stupid hostage-taking activity the GOP has initiated cause common folks to become very anxious and agitated.

Lots of people have undue paranoia over what may actually happen and our dear leaders seem to have the idea that exacerbating that is a good thing.

All this crap - sequesters or the now-recurrent GOP hostage-taking Ceremony - agitated and scares the shit out of Americans, MOST of whom do not have 6-figure incomes, and stresses them out needlessly.

Originally posted to Toking Points Memo on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:38 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (22+ / 0-)

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:38:44 AM PST

  •  No thanks. (13+ / 0-)

    There is no way I am going to blame budget cuts, however Draconian and indiscriminate, for someone murdering his family.  (He only half-succeeded, at least for now.)

    Submitted with the solitary observation that the ugly political wrangling and threats issued by both sides in this stupid hostage-taking activity the GOP has initiated cause common folks to become very anxious and agitated.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:47:14 AM PST

    •  It's well-established in economic theory (11+ / 0-)

      that expectations of future legislative or regulatory change will change economic behavior in the present.  It's exactly that theory, in fact, that attributes the current drop in the rate of increase of health care costs to the coming implementation of the ACA next year.

      This guy was clearly unstable mentally and financially, but adding to what he perceived as unbearable pressure was the possibility he would lose his job in the near future.

      If we want to start summing up the political, social, and economic costs of the sequester, I do think it's within the bounds of reality to consider people who take drastic and irrational action based on it.

      When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

      by litho on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:59:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because there's absolutely no way that a person (10+ / 0-)

      could become depressed enough by the prospect of losing their job, their livelihood, their homes, foreseeing a future of themselves and their family living in a cardboard box and eating out of dumpsters, to implode and try to end it all.

      You're right; that doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Clearly there must be some other, simpler explanation.

      •  Without the gun, he couldn't have done (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Victor Ward, Joe Bob, SilentBrook

        anything when he "imploded".

        Furlough is not layoff.  You work a day less per pay period and take the corresponding financial hit.  

        David Koch is Longshanks, and Occupy is the real Braveheart.

        by PsychoSavannah on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:38:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And if you're living on the edge (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Youffraita, marina, SilentBrook, gerrilea

          the prospect of losing 10 or 20% of your income can still be a heavy burden.  We don't know what their financial situation was like, but if they just shut down a business I can't imagine things were looking all that rosy.  If they were already carrying a debt burden the prospect of furloughs could still have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

          Or are you saying if I told you starting next week you're going to lose 20% of your weekly income for an indeterminate time into the future that this would have absolutely no impact on your stress levels?

          I certainly can't say what was in this guys head.  I don't know if the prospect of layoffs or furloughs factored into this thinking.  But I also do not think it is an implausible scenario.  Let me tell you a little story of firsthand experience:

          My wife suffers terribly from anxiety and depression disorders and I've seen firsthand how obsessing relentlessly over things, even ones that are unlikely and that may never come to pass can ruin one's mind, body, and relationships.  Before she got treatment, for example, she worried relentlessly about reporting our income for taxes (because she once heard a story about the IRS supposedly taking away some little old lady's house for some minor infraction on her tax documents -- my wife had a totally irrational terror of taxes and the IRS because of this story).  To the point that one time I was out of town for a weekend for a class and when I got home found she had just about turned the apartment inside out and was in the middle of the living room floor literally in helpless tears because she couldn't find some minor bank document of little importance and she was convinced the IRS was going to audit us because of it and they'd take away everything we owned.  A similar event happened a few years later where her mom got her wound up over another minor bank document and to satisfy her anxiety over it we turned the house inside out in the middle of the night (on a weeknight) trying to find it, to no avail.  I remember going through our filing cabinet for the third for fourth time at 2 a.m. because my wife Would. Not. Let. It. Go.  This was weeks before our tax appointment and with plenty of time to request a replacement document from the bank --- but that didn't matter to my wife's anxiety disorder because she couldn't lay her hands on it NOW.  Turns out the bank had mailed it to my mother-in-law's (for important documents we often used her parents' mailing address because we moved relatively frequently early in our marriage) and the whole time we were turning the house inside out it was sitting in a stack of mail on MIL's kitchen table and she had missed seeing it and assumed she'd given it to us already.

          So, yeah, I can totally absolutely see where the mere possibility of something bad happening at some indeterminate time in the future and trip someone over the edge into irrational behavior.

          •  And if he didn't have a gun, he may have time (0+ / 0-)

            to learn that a furlough is not a layoff and it's not the end of the world and he wouldn't have killed his family.

            I'm sorry for your family's troubles, but trying to blame this on the sequester is.......not right.

            David Koch is Longshanks, and Occupy is the real Braveheart.

            by PsychoSavannah on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 12:09:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't disagree (0+ / 0-)

              which is why I noted early in my comment that I don't know what the man was thinking or whether the possibility of layoffs or furloughs had any influence.

              I agree that there is just not enough information about the incident to say.  It is a bit much to place the blame on the sequester for this, at least until more information about the man's motivations are known.

              My main point in my post was to address the fact that some posters were entirely pooh-poohing the possibility  that potential furloughs could have factored into the incident.   In my opinion it is just as wrong for people to declare with certainty that it was impossible for the sequester or potential furloughs to have anything to do with it as it is to declare with certainty that it did.

      •  ok folks - it is one day a pay period (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Whatithink, Victor Ward

        Not losing his job -
        Yes - some budget impact and belt tightening needed - but come on - A government pay period runs for two weeks (10 days) the furloughs are for one day a pay period
        So they still work and receive pay for 9 days...

        And yes - my situation is looking at the same thing - but come on - to then try to claim that this guy reasoning to murder his family and you "fill his pain".

        Takin it to the Streets! time to GOTV

        by totallynext on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:06:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You know what? We all do this to each other. (3+ / 0-)

        When I stop buying something, or I decide to buy it elsewhere, I am part of a process that might put someone out of a job or cut their compensation.  The idea that I'm responsible for what some disturbed person might do in response to that loss of job or compensation is crazy.  There is healthy communitarianism and then there is unhealthy something-else.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:37:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Amen (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA

      The realities of life can be brutally harsh and translate into stresses that seem unbearable at times but we rely on our mental health to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and start all over again with self restraint, discipline, and hard work. When some people who lack the coping skills instead act in oppositional ways by hurting others, maiming, killing, or self abuse that makes the realities no less real nor does it reduce their own personal responsibility. Yes, stability, safety, support, and mutual responsibility are all desirable but are not and never will be the norm nor will they be a replacement for personal responsibility.

      Sure there are morals to this story. but using this human tragedy to make a political point fails on every level and has nothing to do with Democratic principles. And sure, politicians have personal responsibility too, and it impacts others' lives and livelihoods. But this man did what he did because of his own tragic mind which none of us can begin to know or project.

  •  Blaming something (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    totallynext, Victor Ward, PavePusher

    that has not happened and may well not happen is absurd in the extreme. This guy had serious issues that go way beyond what this tory is trying to peddle.

    Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?

    by jsfox on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:59:01 AM PST

  •  We're all under pressure, this guy had a lot of (4+ / 0-)

    other issues.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:01:03 AM PST

  •  Typical sloppy "journalism." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    totallynext, Catte Nappe, Victor Ward

    "furloughed one day per pay period" not equal to "losing his job."

    (And the FAA may be misquoted.  What we are being told in DoD is one day per week = 2 days per pay period, which I understood was what was being sought for the entire Federal workforce.)

    What I wonder more about is "recently been (sic) taken a job ..for the FAA."  That implies that his tenure status is career conditional, not career.  Which has implications if this mess carries over into next year.  But also, what were the conditions he was hired under?  Is he a term employee?  If so, one of the things they are looking at if sequestration cuts happen is not renewing term employees.  So, with the misinformation/lacking information, one can not assess how rationale the fear of losing his job was.

    I will say this: I've been through the gov't shutdown when Newt was speaker, and the furlough that happened one year during Bush II's? administration when we didn't have a budget and no CRA.  I have never seen the workforce as worried as they are this time.  And I assign a lot of the blame to the media's fear mongering.  It does not help that contingency planning is being reported as a done deal.    

    Republicans: if they only had a heart.

    by leu2500 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:03:57 AM PST

    •  I talked to a guy in a psychiatric hospital 20 (9+ / 0-)

      years ago who had his salary cut - from $125000 down to 89000 a year.

      he became suicidal.

      I was making $8.90/hr. Sympathy was hard to come by, but that WAS his response to that move.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:38:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But, you know (0+ / 0-)

        Just because that was his stated reason doesn't really make it the case.  There's got to be other reasons he felt that way.

        Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

        by yet another liberal on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:42:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Its what he talked about. (6+ / 0-)

          I assumed he was living beyond his means and his usual lifestyle was going to crash....

          I think he was a pilot with a big airline having difficulty at the time.

          The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

          by xxdr zombiexx on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:46:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have to break into this (0+ / 0-)

            because in my list of recommended diaries, yours is the last one, preceded by:

            Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: GOP capitulation on Obamacare, losing one's mind over sequestration.

            There is a lot of anxiety and despair in this country. We've already had enough evidence that Beck, Rush, Savage, et al have inspired border line unstable folks to use guns on people shock jocks talk about or who fit a general label.

            The 30's saw a lot of suicides and they have been more frequent since '09. Right now I hear ads for a financial person or group predicting some new economic debacle coming soon, several times a day. I suspect a lot of us have some sense of 'it could happen again, the crooks are still running the biggest banks.'

            How many of the elderly in the summer of '11 were scared their Social Security checks wouldn't come? Count my mom and others in her Senior Residence.

            And these are the folks who have fussed over the 'uncertainty' that Obama was creating for the financial gamblers. My coffee needs a splash of rum...

            "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

            by Ginny in CO on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 05:57:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  They just don't understand what is happening. (6+ / 0-)

        I see suicides in Europe every day and there is no question the economy was at fault.

        But here?

        Bootstraps all the way to the grave.

        "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

        by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:55:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rich in PA

          Are they murder-suicides, or just suicides?

          Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

          by yet another liberal on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:56:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The pychological trigger for murder and (4+ / 0-)

            suicide is the same

            Your question is irrelevant.

            "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

            by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:11:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Too bad his family got murdered (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SilentBrook

              I'm sure he had his reasons.  And I'm sure somebody happily sold him the gun.  He obviously can pass the background check to keep his family safe.

              Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

              by yet another liberal on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:16:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Bingo! (5+ / 0-)

              See my comment about suicide further on down the thread.  

              As for means, that too is irrelevant.  This kind of thing has happened many times before, and it is not always men who do it.  Andrea Yeats drowned her kids.  Joseph Goebbels poisoned his kids before taking his own life with his pistol.  

              I have spent much of my adult life studying suicide and murder and have taught a post-graduate course on the subject.  Sometimes they are hard to tell apart.  

              The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

              by Otteray Scribe on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:35:59 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think that's kind of crazy (0+ / 0-)

                I can tell the difference between suicide and murder.  If somebody else kills themself, then I'm still alive.

                Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

                by yet another liberal on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:42:53 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You did not understand the point. (5+ / 0-)

                  I have worked on a number of cases where it was not clear if the death was a suicide, murder or accidental death.  

                  The last time I testified in Federal District Court, there were conflicting claims by law enforcement, the medical examiner and insurance company doctors whether the deceased person's cause of death was an accident or suicide. As a result of my research and investigation, which I explained to the jury, they came back with a verdict of accident.  The insurance company had to pay his policy.

                  Sometimes it really is hard to tell.  You do not teach a doctoral level course based on fluff and opinion pulled out of thin air. It is a research based course.  

                  The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                  by Otteray Scribe on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:52:07 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

                    But it isn't unclear in the case the diarist brought up, right?  The guy murdered his family, then killed himself.  He could have been a decent person (un-evil) and just killed himself and let them live.  They didn't want to die.

                    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

                    by yet another liberal on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:55:30 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I was responding to Horace, (5+ / 0-)

                      not to Doc in that comment.  Your response to me was that you can tell the difference between murder and suicide, implying that such a determination is easy.  In most cases it is, but a good investigator never takes anything for granted.

                      I have worked on cases where the suicidal person cleverly staged the suicide to look like murder to either frame somebody, or to get insurance to pay.  Some murders are disguised as suicides.  

                      All too many insurance companies are quick to claim accidental deaths are suicide, such as single car accidents.

                      There are experts in what is called psychological autopsy who have made a study...and a good living...by being able to sort out the difference.  

                      The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                      by Otteray Scribe on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:11:58 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Suicidal ideation is not normal thinking (0+ / 0-)

                      at all. You do not consider the killing of a spouse or children as something awful. It is to spare them the horror of life you perceive. Legally it is murder. Even I knew it would be considered murder. My mind was convinced it was the best for them.

                      Fortunately, I had a lot of ways to stall and delay in the probability the thoughts would pass. Also had an out many who are suicidal don't. Mine was SAD. All I had to do was move about 2000 miles south.

                      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

                      by Ginny in CO on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 04:55:12 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  They aren't understanding the psychological (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Otteray Scribe, gerrilea

                    dynamics of morals.

                    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

                    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:25:18 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  An ATC controller has one of the ten most (8+ / 0-)

    stressful jobs in the world.  I have known controllers who committed suicide, but never one like this.  No suicide is a sudden act triggered by a single stressor.  This must have been building up for some time.  It is reasonable to hypothesize the final act was a reaction to the "last straw," as Doc posits.

    Four elements must be present for a genuine suicide attempt to take place:

    The person feels hopeless and there is no solution to the problems. No hope for a future.

    Anger or hostility.  The anger must have built up to the point of wanting to kill. The word "suicide" translates from the Latin root words meaning "self murder." That is almost always borne out of frustration.

    Low ego strength or low self esteem.  "I am so worthless I should not even be living."

    Suicidal ideation.  This is obvious on the face of it, but the person who commits suicide has probably been ruminating about it for quite some time, possibly even years.  Death as a way out from the pain of living.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:12:45 AM PST

    •  Numerous men have killed their families since the (6+ / 0-)

      Bush years because of losing everything they have and they feal - wrongly, I have to add - that nobody will take care f their family.

      Mindy McCready shot her dog before shooting herself. No, it;s not at all logical thinking but it fits a pattern.

      In India some time recently I saw reports of waves of suicides by men who lost their ability to produce income.

      men go around with these expectations that they achieve this and that and that they be the breadwinners for the family and when they are faced with being unable to do this, some of those wrapped less tightly will fall apart.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:44:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yup. Hardly a new phenomenon. (6+ / 0-)

        There are a number of instances recorded in history where this happened.  

        I interviewed a schizophrenic young man several years ago who said God instructed him to, "Come unto me and bring those who surround you."  

        He killed seven members of his family in their sleep, but his suicide attempt failed.  

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:54:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Two things (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Whatithink, PavePusher

    1) That individual is responsible for his actions. Period.

    2) The President is just as complicit in the sequester threat as the gop.

  •  i just saw somewhere that 40% of gun deaths (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xxdr zombiexx, a2nite, SilentBrook

    a family member targeting others in the family.

    it's a twisted world...  how does a father decide to kill his children? and how do we keep electing idiots that perform theater instead of governing?

  •  I know you'll agree with this (3+ / 0-)

    Somebody should have given him a bong hit instead of fucking gun and spared his family.  But no, the gun kept his family safe.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:32:07 AM PST

  •  Guns don't kill people, Sequesters do. (4+ / 0-)

    Fonzi, meet Shark.

    Notice: This Comment © 2013 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:56:09 AM PST

  •  The title itself tells the (0+ / 0-)

    reader that the report about the cause of the shootings is a guess on the part of the newspaper.  


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:22:35 AM PST

  •  We should lower taxes, right? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm pretty sure that people have killed themselves over tax liens or potential prison time for tax evasion.

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