"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Time's Up!

Not to take anything away from all the beautiful (and rich!) people at the Golden Globes, garbed in black and declaring their fealty to "Times UP!" (okay, to take something away from it), but this issue is a bit more important than what a pig Harvey Weinstein was, and can't be solved by Oprah giving her studio audience members cars or turning to Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil:

Living in the US increasingly looks like a health risk. Average life expectancy here dropped for the second year in a row, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grim trend stems from a toxic mixture of more drug- and alcohol-related deaths and more heart disease and obesity in many parts of the country. And it puts Americans at a higher risk of early death compared to their counterparts in other wealthy countries.

But what’s often lost in the conversation about the uptick in mortality here is that this trend isn’t affecting all Americans. In fact, there’s one group in the US that’s actually doing better than ever: the rich. While poor and middle-class Americans are dying earlier these days, the wealthiest among us are enjoying unprecedented longevity.

So when we talk about life expectancy slipping, what we should also talk about is the growing problem of health inequality in America. And it’s an increasingly urgent discussion, health researchers are warning, because of policy changes on the horizon that are poised to make the mortality gap even wider.

Maybe we could call this the "Not ME!" movement, because it doesn't affect anyone on that stage last weekend in the glare of the lights and the leer of the cameras; and because it probably doesn't affect any of the writers of the countless articles on just the websites I frequent about the Golden Globes and who wore black best and whether they should have worn black and whether what Oprah said makes her a shoo-in for President in 2020, or just amounts to her inauguration speech.

Okay, definitely to take something away from it.

I get itchy when rich and powerful people start talking about social justice for themselves and others similarly situated, because there are so many invisible Americans who don't get any attention at all.  "#MeToo" is not "TimesUP!", and more attention is paid to the complaints of Rose McGowan (who, I had to ask) than to all the people anonymously dying because they don't have the benefits of healthcare access that money buys.

This is America:  money talks, bullshit walks.  Money was screaming and applauding itself on that stage in front of the cameras, and tout le internet was properly outraged about who said what and made which jokes and won which award or wore whose gown.  And the poor and middle-class Americans dying earlier and earlier and skewing the numbers?  They're bullshit; they walk.  Nobody cares about bullshit.  Scrape it off your shoe if you happen to step in it, and walk on.  Money is chattering in your ear.

Here's the chart, if you want to see it.  It doesn't come festooned in a black designer gown, or stand on stage and accept an award with an inspiring speech that is about the other "invisible people" (i.e., not the ones dying off faster because they are poorer, which, ironically, is "us" actually.  Talk about "missing the point"!)   In matters of life, avoiding death pretty much is the point:

Here's another, courtesy of Vox, to save you clicking the link to find it.  This one, though, is only about men, so perhaps that's inappropriate for a discussion about sexual harassment:

Rich men live longer.  Sorry poor guys:  time's up!

This problem is complicated, and it isn't caused solely by access to healthcare; it is also tied to life choices, diet, exercise, the usual suspects.  Thinking in concrete ways about what needs to change I remember Mayor Bloomberg's doomed effort to limit the size of soft drinks sold in New York City.  That direct an approach won't work, but what indirect approaches are we attempting?  The Vox article ends with the concern that we won't see the solutions to this "early death" problem.  I'm more concerned that we even see the problem


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