Monday, September 24, 2012

Chaos, Controlled, Purposive Chaos Rules, U.S. Citizens Die Needlessly, and MSM Promotes Wingnuts Wildly (Or Is That Wild Wingnuts?) Again and Again

September 22, 2012

Shocker Stat of the Day:  Life Expectancy Decreases by 4 Years Among Poor White People in the U.S.

By Kathleen Geier

Yesterday, the New York Times reported on an alarming new study: researchers have documented that the least educated white Americans are experiencing sharp declines in life expectancy. Between 1990 and 2008, white women without a high school diploma lost a full five years of their lives, while their male counterparts lost three years.
Experts say that declines in life expectancy in developed countries are exceedingly rare, and that in the U.S., decreases on this scale “have not been seen in the U.S. since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918.” Even during the Great Depression, which wrought economic devastation and severe psychic trauma for millions of Americans, average life expectancy was on the increase.

What are the reasons for the disturbing drop in life expectancy among poor white folks, and in particular for the unusually large magnitude of the decline? According to the Times, researchers are baffled: one expert said, “There’s this enormous issue of why … It’s very puzzling and we don’t have a great explanation.” 

Undoubtedly, the increasing numbers of low-income Americans without health insurance is a major contributor factor. Researchers also say that lifestyle factors such as smoking, which has increased among low-income white women, play a role; poor folks tend to engage in more risky health behaviors than their more affluent counterparts.

I will offer an alternative hypothesis, one which is not explicitly identified in the Times article: inequality. In the U.S., the period between 1990 and 2008, which is a period that saw such steep declines in life expectancy for the least well-off white people, is also a period during which economic inequality soared.
Moreover, there is a compelling body of research that suggests that inequality itself — quite apart from low incomes, or lack of health insurance — is associated with more negative health outcomes for those at the bottom of the heap. One of the most famous series of studies of the social determinants of health, Britain’s Whitehall Studies, had as their subjects British civil servants, all of whom health insurance and (presumably) decent enough jobs. Intriguingly, these studies

found a strong association between grade levels of civil servant employment and mortality rates from a range of causes. Men in the lowest grade (messengers, doorkeepers, etc.) had a mortality rate three times higher than that of men in the highest grade (administrators).
The Whitehall studies found that while workers in the lower grades were more likely to be at risk for coronary heart disease due to factors such as higher rates of smoking, higher blood pressure, etc., even after controlling for those confounding factors, these workers still experienced significantly higher mortality rates.
So what was behind such disparate health incomes among high-status and low-status workers? Researchers pointed the finger at inequality, hypothesizing that various psychosocial factors associated with inequality — such as the higher levels of stress at work and at home experienced by the lower tier workers, as well as their lower levels of self-esteem — were behind the dramatic differences in mortality rates.

I believe that inequality-related stressors are likely to be the determining factors in declining American life expectancies, as well. I’m surprised, in fact, that the Times article did not specifically identify inequality as a causal factor, because the health risks associated with economic inequality are well-established in the scientific literature.
For decades, the United States has been making a series of political choices that has distributed wealth and power upwards and left working Americans not only poorer and sicker, but also feeling far more burdened and distressed, and experiencing far less security and control over their lives.
The consequences of these choices have been devastating, and absent a dramatic reversal in our political course, they are likely to get even worse. Where inequality is concerned, Republicans have their foot on the accelerator, while the best the Democrats seem to be able to do is to (temporarily) put their foot on the brake.

We are on a trajectory all right, and it’s not a good one.
RepublicanPointOfView on September 22, 2012 9:34 AM:
So what!
We republicans will still argue that the eligibility ages for social security and medicare should be raised.

Anonymous on September 22, 2012 10:10 AM:
If the white folks have jobs at all, they're always on the brink of losing them, both, or all three of them.
Most of those jobs don't have benefits.
If they don't, and buy health care, that cost has escalated dramatically.
If they had any savings, they're gone/Pensions, sold out from under them.
If they had a home, the value has gone down in the past 4 years.
If they have children, the cost of higher education has skyrocketed.

On top of that, hating on "The Other" people is very stressful.

They drink more.
Take take drugs, legal and illegal.

All of that stress, the lack of cheap, quality health care, and little time to go to doctors if they wanted to, and little or no hope for the future, adds up to shorter lifespans.

Of course, the fact that they voted against their best interests, causing some, if not most of those problems, will never occur to them.

And many of them will go out on November 6th, and vote the straight Republican ticket, possibly shortening the lifespans of the rest of us, as well.
White folks - there is no better proof than this study, that shows that racism kills - not just the ones you want to see killed, but yourselves.

Anonymous on September 22, 2012 10:32 AM:
Ta-Nahisi Coates: We are all welfare queens now. 

Bob on September 22, 2012 1:33 PM:
I can't say I'm surprised. Poverty is increasing. 40% of the nation needs help in one way or another or doesn't have health insurance. It's not just the Republicans, who by their own admission don't care about this 47%, but also Democrats who are all-too willing to suck up to the Gods of the Market by dropping the public option. Health care may not be a Constitutionally-mandated "right" -- but the Right to Life, Liberty, etc. does include the word "life" and only an idiot thinks that life can be maintained without healthcare. That's why were 20-something-th in life expectancy. Even Mexico takes care of all its people. What a country we live in.

The following is lifted in full from my mentor Driftglass. (Because he's just that good.)

Read it and weep for your country's future.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

Hey look, it's David Brooks!

Hey look, it's Bay Buchanan!

Hey look, it's Joe Scarborough!

Hey look, it's Ann Fucking Coulter!  On a major network political teevee show!  For the third time this year!
Hey look, it's me dying a little more inside!

Honestly, you don't have to worry about "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" anymore.  For the third time this year -- without apology or explanation -- George Robert Stephanopoulos has used his position as the anchor of one America's most highly rated political talk shows to put slandering wingnut welfare gorgon Ann Coulter on the public airwaves.  Sadly, Mr.  Stephanopoulos did not put her on camera as a cautionary tale or object of derision. Instead, he presented her to America once again as a "Conservative pundit" cloaked in all the credibility his name and network could lend her, and thus -- like any other thrice-convicted public masturbator -- forfeits his right to be taken seriously about anything.

In other words, The Gingrich Rules were in full effect.

Regular readers know the drill (from me in June, 2012):

...If your idea of biting-into-aluminum thrill-seeking is peeping through the curtains of a post-apocalyptic abattoir-cum-knocking shop after closing time to see what sorts of slithery, unnatural things clamber up from the basement in the gloaming hours, then the Mouse Circus was the place for you Sunday for one reason:  Ann Coulter.

Ms. Coulter makes her way in the world by plying her one, very specific skill: scuttling from one microphone to the next, wrapping herself around it like a hagged-out "Alien" face-hugger, ramming her screechy, Conservative ovipositor into her audience's ears and laying her loathsome eggs in their skulls.

And most of the time, there she remains...skittering around and around the wingnut welfare circuit over and over again from Hate Radio to Fox teevee, with an annual stop at Regnery press feeding trough to extrude books like "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America", "Godless: The Church of Liberalism", "Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism" and so after day offering the same gnarly, bile-soaked handjobs to the same imbeciles in the back alleys on the wrong side of town...

...until the day comes -- as it inevitably does -- when the big, air-conditioned, network teevee limo sighs to a stop next to her, pops the door open and offers her another chance to take her freakshow uptown.

Usually such Sunday morning outreaches to the mutant hellbeast community are done by David Gregory, but  at least once a year, George Stephanopolous steps up to pay down the vig on whatever unholy debt the mutant hellbeast community is holding over his head.

... And speaking of "Meet the Press", for sheer train-wreck theatricality, it would be hard to beat Bay Buchanan's dead doll-eye-stare, obsessive raptor-talon-flexing and (literally) panting rage as she bulldozed a straight line right off the edge of the world, because it was three wholly different ki(n)ds of fun.
First, the idea of Pat Buchanan's batshit sister being decanted and rolled out  as a paid Romney troll on America's most highly-rated network political talk show is just hilarious in and of itself.  Second, actually watching her mental stick-shift lock up and leave her unable to present any dimension except "snarling, snapping lunatic liar" was Big Fun too. And third, it was Very Big Fun indeed to see the look on David Brooks' face as the constraints of the format forced him to treat Ms. Buchanan's unhinged Bag Lady MacBeth performance with a kind of horrified, congealed collegiality instead of the way I imagine he usually deals with such raving unpleasantness: by flicking a quarter at it and sprinting for his car.

Which, in a way, made Sunday's "Meet the Press" a perfect specimen for future generations to study when they try to understand why the United States had a complete nervous breakdown during the last few decades of the 20th Century and the first few decades of the 21st:

Bay Buchanan on "Meet the Press" arguing with Joe Scarborough and David Brooks about how Conservatives don't get enough time on teevee.
The best comedy ever, and as it's Jon Stewart, it's waaay beyond that.


Bustednuckles said...

RE: decreasing lifespan.

I saw today that suicides overtook automobiles for the number of deaths in the US .

Suzan said...

That's certainly a reasonable development, Busted.

After all, they've been working on it for over 30 years.

Thanks for your insight!

Love ya,