Sunday, March 23, 2008



It will probably surprise no one that under Republican presidents the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and that under Bush's regime that tendency is far more pronounced than it was under Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan or his father. The Regime's economic policies-- and the overall domestic agenda (particularly in regard to anything that pertains to regulating Big Business predatory and greed-driven policies to mediate on behalf of society and individuals)-- have noticeably widened another gap besides just the income gap: life expectancy.
Income inequality, by many measures, is now greater than it has been since the 1920's. The top 1 percent of earners in the United States made 19 percent of all income in 2005, up from 8 percent in 1975.

That 1% have benefited mightily from Bush's tax cuts and economic policies, with the average annual income in that group soaring from $2 million a year to $10 million a year. A year! And disparities between that top 1% and the rest of us in terms of life expectancy is "large and growing."
The culprits-- aside from the Bush Regime policies-- are largely heart disease and cancer.

Dr. Gopal Singh, a demographer at the Department of Heath and Human Services, says they have found "widening socioeconomic inequalities in life expectancy” at birth and at every age level." Among the explanations given for the chasm between rich and poor:

¶Doctors can detect and treat many forms of cancer and heart disease because of advances in medical science and technology. People who are affluent and better educated are more likely to take advantage of these discoveries.

¶Smoking has declined more rapidly among people with greater education and income.

¶Lower-income people are more likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods, to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior and to eat unhealthy food.

¶Lower-income people are less likely to have health insurance, so they are less likely to receive checkups, screenings, diagnostic tests, prescription drugs and other types of care.

And, despite propaganda from right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the gap is far from inevitable. Professor Nancy Krieger of the Harvard School of Public Health, "investigated changes in the rate of premature mortality (dying before the age of 65) and infant death from 1960 to 2002. She found that inequities shrank from 1966 to 1980, but then widened."
“The recent trend of growing disparities in health status is not inevitable,” she said. “From 1966 to 1980, socioeconomic disparities declined in tandem with a decline in mortality rates.”

The creation of Medicaid and Medicare, community health centers, the “war on poverty” and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 all probably contributed to the earlier narrowing of health disparities, Professor Krieger said.


Vic Wulsin is a doctor and a distinguished public health policy expert running for Congress in southweast Ohio against Bush rubber stamp Mean Jean Schmidt. We asked her to comment on the widening gap in an area she has been active in for her entire adult life:

"What's particularly tragic is that the disparities in health outcomes are preventable; yet legislators are not implementing the necessary strategies to close the gaps between rich and poor, white and persons of color, educated and un-educated. 

"Epidemiologists and other public health experts have knowledge, skills, evidence, and data demonstrating that interventions can save lives, prolong life, and improve the quality of life. For example, the Cincinnati-based program Every Child Succeeds provides pre-natal care and intensive education to at-risk pregnant women. It has demonstrated a reduction in infant mortality. 

"Policy-makers should act and put into practice successful trials and other salutary activities. Providing the necessary resources-- human, technical, administrative, financial-- will be necessary to implement effective programs on a wider and more democratic scale. A budget is a moral document. Decision-makers allocate resources according to the priorities of their constituents.  Social and economic justice requires choosing to invest in all our families."

Imagine having someone with this kind of a way of looking at public health in Congress instead of a lockstep, lemming-like Bush follower. It'll take more than imagining though. Please consider volunteering for Vic's campaign if you're in Ohio and please consider a contribution no matter where you live. You can do it here-- and no amount is too small.



At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trickle on economics. The "Gilded Age" begets golden showers. Feh!

At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wulsin Fact Check Request to the Enquirer and Dayton Daily News Editorial Page Editors, Cincinnati Beacon, March 24, 2008


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