Thursday, May 03, 2007

Poverty Can Make You Get Sick and Die

Several studies prove it. The policies of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and the GOP, in general, have harmed Americans by attacking the public health, increasing death rates as a result.

But does it matter to Republicans? It matters if you give a damn about your country, yourself, and your neighbor. It matters if you give a damn about anything but your gated community, your golf course, your SUV. So dramatic is this issue as a "cutting" issue, a Republican is very nearly defined by the extent to which he/she doesn't care.

What might have been common sense has been left to researchers to prove: poverty and poor health go hand in hand. Poverty means many things to a growing number of people but two factors are obvious: bad nutrition and unhealthy living conditions. Indeed, every step down the economic ladder worsens overall health.

There is yet another factor. The latest research leads to the conclusion that the mere fact of inequality increases mortality rates. This is an increase having nothing to do with nutrition or living conditions. It is a matter of inequality in and of itself.

Some of these conclusions may be found in two studies published by the British Medical Journal. The conclusion is impossible for conservatives and Social Darwinists to refute: The more equally wealth is distributed the better the health of that society. There is the possibility, of course, that America's privileged elite, Bush's base, doesn't really care about the health of society. As they might say in London's East End: Oi'm awlroight, Jack!
Interestingly, states with greater inequality of income distribution also spent less per person on education, had fewer books per person in the schools, and had poorer educational performance, including worse reading skills, worse math skills, and lower rates of completion of high school.

States with greater inequality of income also had a greater proportion of babies born with low birth weight; higher rates of homicide; higher rates of violent crime; a greater proportion of the population unable to work because of disabilities; a higher proportion of the population using tobacco; and a higher proportion of the population being sedentary (inactive).

Lastly, states with greater inequality of income had higher costs per-person for medical care, and higher costs per person for police protection.

- Peter Montague, Economic Inequality and Health

Poorer and working class people in America made great gains after World War II. More enlightened taxation was at the heart of it. In those years, poverty decreased. The Post WWII era was the most egalitarian in American history. It all came to an end with the rise of Ronald Reagan. His improvident tax cut of 1982 ushered in the deepest, longest "recession" since Herbert Hoover's Great Depression. Benefiting only America's elite, Reagan's tax cut ushered in an era in which only the upper quintile would prosper. Everyone else would lose ground.

Incidentally, that trend continued until well into Bill Clniton's second term. The trend abated somewhat at that time but resumed with a vengeance when George W. Bush insisted upon tax cuts that benefitted only his "base", a shrinking elite.

The primary culprit was and continues to be a bill of goods called Supply Side Economics or Trickle Down theory. The policy had been championed by Reagan Budget Director David Stockman who later recanted, calling the bogus theory "a Trojan horse".

"It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle down,' so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle down.' Supply-side is 'trickle-down' theory."

"Yes, Stockman conceded, when one stripped away the new rhetoric emphasizing across-the-board cuts, the supply-side theory was really new clothes for the unpopular doctrine of the old Republican orthodoxy."

"…the Reagan coalition prevailed again in the House and Congress passed the tax-cut legislation with a final frenzy of trading and bargaining. Again, Stockman was not exhilarated by the victory. On the contrary, it seemed to leave a bad taste in his mouth, as though the democratic process had finally succeeded in shocking him by its intensity and its greed. Once again, Stockman participated in the trading -- special tax concessions for oil -- lease holders and real-estate tax shelters, and generous loopholes that virtually eliminated the corporate income tax. Stockman sat in the room and saw it happen."

"'Do you realize the greed that came to the forefront?' Stockman asked with wonder. 'The hogs were really feeding. The greed level, the level of opportunism, just got out of control.'"

-The Education of David Stockman 1981:

And it is still out of control.

Why Conservatives Hate America

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