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Inequality Is (Literally) Killing America


Health & Wellness  (tags: dishonesty, cover-up, americans, abuse, elections, economy, ethics, healthcare, healthcare, news, politics, u.s., usa, risks, research, safety, study, society, treatment, warning, prevention, protection, humans, illness, investigation, medicine, disease )

JL
- 142 days ago - thenation.com
Only a few miles separate the Baltimore neighborhoods of Roland Park & Upton Druid Heights. But residents of the two areas can measure the distance between them in years--twenty years, to be exact. That's the difference in life expectancy between Roland



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Comments

Stephen Brian (24)
Wednesday November 27, 2013, 11:32 pm
There are a few specific claims in this one that are definitely disputable, but the policy-prescriptive central thrust seems to be a major point of agreement across the political spectrum, something for which a solution may be politically viable even with modern degrees of polarization. Public health, whether through infrastructure, environmental care, economic policy, or otherwise, is a place where government-intervention is absolutely appropriate. There are disputes as to how much the government should intervene in individual care (the whole healthcare debate), but public health matters like clean water and epidemic-prevention are something that everybody seems to agree upon. (One of the specific points where I think the article is wrong is in the political challenge: One of the hardest conservatives with whom I have ever communicated published quite a bit of work promoting regulation for the sake of public health. The biggest difference is in where people put the onus of proof, on those who assume that the programs actually help public health and are effective, or on skeptics.)

That said, unfortunately there are aspects of public health for which intervention is just too blunt an approach: Individual diets, for example, are remarkably difficult to change. Some foods just cost more to produce and bring to market, no matter how much healthier they are than others. Birthrates, through crowding and infectious disease, play a part as well, and birthrates really will not be controlled.

Then there is the difference in support for education from home: Specific communal histories and conditions of poverty, especially chronic unemployment, can easily create subcultures and conditions that hinder children's education. If I grew up with parents who had no jobs and came to believe that was normal, I doubt that I would have seen the benefit in caring about school. If, for many generations, my family had lived under conditions where education would not count for much in terms of available careers, I doubt that I would have received the support that I did for school.

Crime-rates may also be a major issue:
http://www.spotcrime.com/md/baltimore/roland+park#Upton%20Druid%20Heights
http://www.spotcrime.com/md/baltimore/roland+park
Note which one had shootings and which had none in the past two months. It's not like the shootings themselves are directly changing the life-expectancy that much. However, a community where people fear and distrust each other will have a lot more trouble organizing for everybody's well-being, and is a lot less likely to have people do their part to help informally. Unfortunately, the only statistics I ever saw on this came from Hurricane Sandy, after which a study apparently found, adjusting for the amount of support, damage, and initial finances, that high-trust communities reached the same benchmarks for recovery five times faster than did low-trust communities. I would generally expect anything that impacts recovery that much to impact growth, whether economic or otherwise, as well.

I am worried that trying to treat inequality without addressing crime and household-support for education (or lack thereof) may be a matter of treating the symptoms rather than preventing the disease, as the article says that the U.S. does with healthcare I think the biggest challenge is just that this is very complicated and difficult, perhaps even impossible, to do with the blunt instruments available to those not actually of the poor communities, and certainly far from easy to do from within
 

Gloria picchetti (279)
Thursday November 28, 2013, 4:47 am
Inequality does kill but it's not quick enough to bring real relief.
 

Theodore Shayne (56)
Thursday November 28, 2013, 5:51 am
Welcome to austerity economics that began with Reagan. I remember the comment made by one of the Blackwater boys [before they became XE Intl. and got bought out by Monsanto] after Katrina. They were complaining that New Orleans was like being in a banana republic and how the pay was so much better in Iraq.
Throughout the states this seems to be a burgeoning trend that isn't helped by ALEC or people like the Koch brothers. People have become and are becoming disposable assets to be utilized and then disposed of.
 

Nancy M. (219)
Thursday November 28, 2013, 8:34 am
"“The lower people’s income, the earlier they die and the sicker they live,” testified Dr. Steven Woolf, who directs the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University."

Sad to think but I think that is actually what some on the right want. Let the lower income die.
 

lee e. (114)
Thursday November 28, 2013, 10:19 am
I do believe that without government intervention the inequality that exists today will remain a nagging problem for us all. Who can possibly say that Citizens United didn't feed the plutocrat's purse at the expense of the poor, or that without the earned benefits that are available to us the poor and even the middle class (if it exists any longer), would render mass starvation and almost certain death to many hundreds of thousands. That wages are no longer sufficient for most people to survive on, or to pay for college and/or graduate degrees, and those fortunate enough to have a college degree are now in years of debt to pay back the institution. More young adults are living with their parents, because of these debts and the higher rents and/or costs of homes.
It is indeed the privileged who live longer - the stress of living day to day, hoping that sickness doesn't fall on the household, or for those of us who have already experienced the devastation of the loss of health and/or the death of a spouse and find themselves as single parents, while it is difficult enough to raise children on 2 incomes - all of these situations are political.
The idea that women shouldn't have the control of her body as the GOP so desires, would only exasperate the single mother syndrome. The denial of earned benefits, higher minimum wages, less taxation and more tax "loopholes", more job outsourcing to overseas, as well as overseas tax shelters, less investments in our schools and higher education - nearly all the "trickle-down" economics that Reagan indeed espoused (incontinence?) - and that the GOP is attempting to advance, is detrimental to the poor and middle class, and will of course effect the health of their victims, and I haven't even mentioned health care!
It does indeed seem to be a deliberate attempt by the plutocrats to rid the country of the poor and "welfare queens" - a bit of murder while keeping their hands clean!
 

Patricia Raven (407)
Thursday November 28, 2013, 12:14 pm
There seems to be no equality as long as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
 

JL A. (269)
Thursday November 28, 2013, 6:43 pm
Excellent points Lee. For those interested in the factual characteristics known to relate to differential mortality (health departments in cities, counties and states use the same proven methods for comparisons) the poorer community's data is compared to the rest of Baltimore's neighborhoods at:
http://www.baltimorehealth.org/info/neighborhood2011/53%20Upton.pdf

And Baltimore deserves kudos for the efforts shown to address the level of lead poisoning negligent landlords creates and related negative impacts on health and school measures.
 

Shirley S. (171)
Thursday November 28, 2013, 9:39 pm
America needs to recover from years of financing wars & project more money into helping people who are struggling to live.
 

ewoud k. (73)
Friday November 29, 2013, 2:15 pm
Like some former president once said: Its the poverty, stupid!

But try to explain that to he rich....

Thanks for posting!
 

JL A. (269)
Friday November 29, 2013, 4:42 pm
You are welcome Ewoud!
 

Dandelion G. (401)
Friday November 29, 2013, 5:27 pm
Within the article it read:

While the country as a whole has gotten richer and healthier, the poor have gotten poorer, the middle class has shrunk and Americans without high school diplomas have seen their life expectancy slide back to what it was in the 1950s. Economic inequalities manifest not in numbers, but in sick and dying bodies.

My comment: So much for going back to the "good" old days.
 

Shanti S. (0)
Saturday November 30, 2013, 9:55 am
Thank you.
 

JL A. (269)
Saturday November 30, 2013, 10:37 am
You are welcome Shanti.
 

Michael A. (25)
Monday December 2, 2013, 12:50 am
Thanks!
 

JL A. (269)
Monday December 2, 2013, 8:16 am
You are welcome Michael!
 
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