Disparity

HW(pitcherinthewry.blogspot.com) supplied us a N.Y. Times article indicating that lifespan disparity between the rich and poor in the U.S. had increased to incredible proportions.While modified by gender,race,and ethnicity the fact of income disparity dominating life expectation appears indisputable.       (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/health/disparity-in-life-spans-of-the-rich-and-the-poor-is-growing.html?_r=1)

Research studies do not abound but what exists produces argument along familiar lines.

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29 Comments

  1. Daedal2207 states: “Survival in evolutionary language has nothing to do with subduing. It has everything to do with adaptation.”
    Consider: Adaptation cannot occur without subduing those forces that would hinder the needed adjustments. Not only must all life adapt to natural environments, a species must exist among competitive forms of life, many of which threaten its survival as all undergo their adaptations. (Some species, in order to survive, need to subdue the human species – let’s hope that they do not succeed). I don’t think that it is incorrect to use the term “subdue” both in reference to conquering (adapting to) the threats of natural environments and the threats presented by other life forms. A need to “subdue” can also include a range of threats that form within the species as dysfunctions of any kind. These can be social in nature and must be subdued if the species is not to be weakened perhaps to extinction (consider the proliferation of nuclear weapons in conjunction with the belief that “God” demands they be used.)
    The big changes that we usually associate with the recognition of distinctly evolved species did take eons, but as regards “rate of change” – evolution is an ongoing (right now – every moment) process. It is this process that is referred to when I assert that it is a fundamental truth of nature – as gravity is a truth. We need to learn how to navigate wisely within this constantly-with-us force of nature otherwise we are likely to waste energy and other resources that will be needed for our successful “adaptation”.
    Science can give us the comparative measurements that are needed in order to REASONABLY guide us to form (adapt to) the best social-political “values”. Without these most objective of measurements we should rely on what? The wishfully imagined certitudes of Faith? Secular faith-like beliefs such as Communism? Faith in Progressivism? Religions? Which one? Astrology? Maybe we might disastrously and faithfully follow charismatic leaders like Hitler or idea leaders such as Nietzsche? Faith, be it religious or secular, tends to lock in errors. (Admittedly, it sometimes stumbles on good principles as well. The tools of science can help us identify the fittest (what works best) and that which does not.)
    Science gives us a (the most?) reasonable way to error and adjust. Its most certain truth is that of the hypothesis which is always subject to skepticism and correction.

  2. Social Darwinism – Red in tooth and claw.
    Herbert Spencer coined the expression “survival of the fittest” after reading Darwin. No matter the mind adventures that this concept inspired in H. Spencer, we can examine some of its logical implications without stumbling among 19th century fashions of thought. Daedal2207 mentioned these terms as if they necessarily represented something negative rather than just something descriptive of a truth that we would like to avoid. Some analysis of this concept could help us steer clear of endeavors that lead to waste and failure. The “fittest” represents not only people of physical, mental, or economic power, it also represents social structures that most fittingly operate to the survival of the species. It can represent conceptual tools that we employ to guide our judgments such as liberty, equality, justice, dignity, diversity, and compassion too. “Fittest” can be considered synonymous with “what works best”. In economics there is a term called “creative destruction”. Better ways make obsolete older ways. The sooner the better displaces the obsolete, the least waste is experienced in terms of human potential. But those dependent on the lesser ways face destruction, thus “red in tooth and claw” can be recognized as the unavoidable way of all natural life forces. The best future cannot evolve without those who are least fit and that which is least “fit” suffering various forms of destruction. Wailing against what may be considered an unpleasant-to-believe reality is wastefully futile. I think that quality of judgment as regards the use of our conceptual tools is a prime factor in our survival (which is linked to the greatest reduction of suffering possible) –the improvement of judgment is central (and a primary goal of this blog).

    1. To apply the Darwinian”concept of “fittest” to a social structure takes it from the realm of human construction to the realm of something evolutionarily imposed.;it simply won’t do! How far must one go to claim history to be unfurling in accord with unjustified claims to moral,physical and intellectual superiority?My guess is that it is unintentional but the trend of thought mimics both”Man and Superman” and “Mein Kampf”.(…quality of judgment as regards the use of conceptual tools…)

      1. Daedal2207 writes: “How far must one go to claim history to be unfurling in accord with unjustified claims to moral, physical and intellectual superiority? … but the trend of thought mimics both “Man and Superman” and “Mein Kampf”. (…quality of judgment as regards the use of conceptual tools…)”
        How does one know “weaker” and “stronger”? By definition, “survival” exists only on the basis of its having subdued that which threatened it. If these terms have any meaning at all, it is a simple conclusion (a truth) that survival equates with the fittest. “Fittest” – that which works best.
        Nothing I have written makes a claim that history is “unfurling in accord with unjustified claims to moral, physical and intellectual superiority.” The fact that a truth can be misread and misused does not negate the truth. And yes, it is by quality of logic (judgment) that we increase the probability that what we design is foundationally based on truths and thereby capable of surviving the ills of poor judgment.

        1. Survival in evolutionary language has nothing to do with subduing.It has everything to do with adaptation.The time rate of change in accord with this is in millions of years.There is no evolutionary law similarly dictating inexorably the social constructs that we use. There is no way of knowing which are better than which except in accord with values and the unfurling of history.Social psychiatry is based on the reasonably demonstrated ability of the social environment, with modification,to accommodate almost all psychological types.Those modifications unfortunately,are usually not based on science but on sociopolitical values.Of course they can be informed by science but science’s attention is inconstant.(Follows the money…)
          If one decides that an elite(based on status historically granted or power politically gained) can determine enduringly that social environment then we are dealing with Nietzche,Hitler etc.The poorest judgment involves the giving up of the ability to err and subsequently course correct which is the strength of democracy.

  3. Susanna (reference comment 29 Feb 6:07 pm) – We all have feelings. My effort is to guide them to appropriateness. Here in context is the statement that so upset you:
    “Believing that it is your group that has been wronged provides a magnified (bigger than yourself) pain – and along with that the potential to be part of a delicious, bigger-than-self cause. It is important that this cause be just, and not just a dangerously addictive means to feel more important,”
    This is a general statement about an important driving force that affects all of us. We all crave that which gives us the feeling that we have importance, that we are a meaningful part of something significant. That craving is a major reason that ideas can be addictive (resistant to correction).
    Do you agree with my observation?
    If so, why is a statement that is true considered offensive?
    If the “black cause” is just, the feeling of importance is not there “just” to enable that group to feel better. There is no issue.
    So, possibly this is the crux of the matter: Susanna and I have a difference of opinion. I think that we are finally beyond that point where “black” discontent is just. I have been clear that I would recommend that we ignore race differences in preference to a system focused on individual rights, so it is true that I believe that using race as a justification for any kind of quota-like distribution is detrimental to society achieving its best future. I want merit to be the favored element no matter the body in which it is found. And, if it is true that individuals who think of themselves as black have access to rewards on the basis of possessing equal merit, a claim that it is otherwise is not just, and much of the discontent may in truth be riding on an addictive craving for meaning. So the question should be that of equal merit achieving equal rewards. Susanna is not mean or cruel because she is advancing a race-centered view which in my opinion is causing harm. Why would my recommending a different, more inclusive point of view shunt me into a category of bad character called “cruel”?

  4. I make an observation that there will never be a time when all humans are made by nature equally healthy or wise. Nature will never provide a “level playing field”. This is true for individuals and true for any “groups” that we might imaginatively sculpt from the blended stuff of life. We can try our best to provide for our fellow individual humans, with all their unequal attributes, an equality under the law. This, along with competitive free markets prevents anyone from legally becoming “chattel”. I do recommend that we select organizational systems that encourage the best talents in our species to contribute to the maximum their productivity (of product and idea) toward the advancement of mankind. WHEREVER merit exists – free it, encourage it. It is contrary to our best interests to stifle freedoms with forceful religious or wishful ideological or race-based “moral” templates (Templates that presume to “know” what we are supposed to feel and are ready to hammer us into shapes that conform to its presumed wisdom.)

    1. We have been to this point many times and ,unlike chess,there is no draw through repetition of moves.Again I quote George Santayana…”those who cannot learn from history are compelled to repeat it”.chattelry is both an historical reality and an ever present sociopsychological mental state.Only the historical reality lies (mostly) in the nation’s past,the law cannot eliminate human trafficking.Alexander points out(verbal communication)that we are hierarchical primates and status order is evolutionarily embedded.DS'”wishful” templates are not stifling and forceful but are freeing and weak and are the only hope to avoid Spencerian decreed chaos.The fear of loss of status and increased vulnerability to falling into the ranks of the lesser prestiged and privileged explain the clinging to a rose colored past and a false presumption that the status conferred by past events was truly merit based.I will no longer circle the drain on this issue. No Mas !

      1. In regard to Daedal2207’s request for “no mas” (going over the same ground again and again) I sent him the following personal e-mail. He suggested that it be included in the blog.

        Water metaphor:
        It is true. We have been circling, but not in waters that are shallow, but in waters that are deep with meaning and nowhere near a drain. I have been expecting you to break the circle by stirring to the surface some of the logical variables that could legitimately follow from my statements.
        Chess metaphor:
        It is a game of logic. I think that I can see well ahead the likely play of the game given the various moves already taken. But secondary to me is a desire to “win” over my opponent. Primary is the fact that playing the game may reveal faults in my own thinking, faults in my logic. My (most important) personal sense of “status” is linked soundly to a desire to spend the least amount of time (It is my one and only life after all) believing and acting on things that are not true, and worse, mistakenly doing dumb and destructive things with that gift of life. And, as Octogenarians with a blog we have an audience and thus can provide for others an example of how to play the game well, how to find inspiration by engaging a mind-nourishing, constantly testing, growth activity.
        A Doctor metaphor:
        The patient has provided the symptoms. An accurate and helpful diagnosis needs to acknowledge and account for them. Consider the following symptoms:
        I like and agree with this quote by George Santayana …” Those who cannot learn from history are compelled to repeat it.” I agree that “chattelry is both an historical reality and an ever present socio psychological mental state. I agree that “the law cannot eliminate human trafficking”. I also agree with Alexander “that we are hierarchical primates and status order is evolutionarily embedded.” Also I agree that wishful templates are not ALWAYS stifling and forceful AND CAN BE freeing and weak.
        The doctor, by believing that the “illness” is linked to a mind that does not believe these things is diagnosing a disease that the patient does not have.
        Back to the water metaphor:
        I realize that I am challenging some very important-to-you beliefs, as yours are challenging to some of mine. This is the very reason the waters are deep, and the currents are strong. I appreciate the format that you have created for the testing of our vessels and navigation skills with which to maneuver to the better places in spite of the many natural (historic and social) forces that tend to sweep us in dangerous directions.

        1. I second the sentiment as expressed by DS: “I realize that I am challenging some very important-to-you beliefs, as yours are challenging to some of mine.” Don, you certainly make sure that this blog is not an echo chamber … and, that in itself is much appreciated. I respectfully agree to equally respectfully disagree if the occasion arises.

  5. A class act that isn’t.
    It seems to be well established (for many reasons) that we gravitate to others who are “like us” (subject to the variables of self-identity). And it is evident that we have the imagination with which we can reap emotional benefits by (falsely or justly) elevating the “status” of our group(s) and demeaning that of others. So, based on a seemingly innumerable number of imaginative methods of blended forms of division we tend to clump ourselves into distinct class structures. Through history that has been (and still is) the prevailing story of societies. And then evolved an idea that diminished many of the negatives suffered because of these divisive tendencies. The founders of our country advanced an idea, a constitution that guaranteed equal dignity (rights) under the law to every INDIVIDUAL citizen. The emotional benefits of class differentiation lost some of its justifications. Individuals with protected equal rights (equal liberty under the law) could move so much more easily among the various “classes” that this fluidity diffused the psychological powers of “class”. Divisions and the forces that fuel them still exist. “Agendas” can be advanced by exaggerating and manipulating differences. But our country has demonstrated how much the destructiveness of “class” divisions can be subdued. Even so, E Pluribus Unum is under constant attack by ideological agendas that grow their power by focusing on unity’s opposite – “diversity”.

    1. DS says: “It seems to be well established (for many reasons) that we gravitate to others who are “like us” (subject to the variables of self-identity). And it is evident that we have the imagination with which we can reap emotional benefits by (falsely or justly) elevating the “status” of our group(s) and demeaning that of others.”

      Yeah … easy for one to say when one is of the indistinguishable white tribe that can hide all “kinds” of sub-tribes without the worry/fear of being instantly visually profiled. We’re all striving for that utopia with the rational knowledge that it is fiction. Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop us from the struggle of trying to level the playing field towards real equal opportunity … not referring to outcome (too many variables, including … hm … yes, unencumbered capability). The “E Pluribus Unum” crowd provides a noble slogan, certainly an idealism for which to strive, while at the same time back-handing with practices/policies that negate that result. Acknowledging that one-size-fits-all approaches do not address the problems might be a common ground to work in … rather than delighting in the oversimplifying judgmental generality of “well established … emotional benefits (falsely or justly)” conclusions. A fitting reference to the late Nelle Harper Lee: “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” To Kill a Mockingbird.4 J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960. The eternal challenge. Is hope truly eternal? Difficult when you’re damaged goods.

      1. Yes Susanna,once again well said.Elevating the status of the demeaned does not mean(despite the DS implication) lowering the status of everyone else unless that elevated status is defined by the right to exploit and manipulate.A functioning human social order is not a zero sum game.Herbert Spencer did not understand Darwin.”Survival of the fittest” under the aegis of a “Nature,red in tooth and claw” was and is for organisms unable to alter their environment except at the speed of evolutionary process.The power of capitalism to make the pie bigger coupled with democracy is the model that we(the U.S.A) need to nurture and demonstrate that it can work with large populations.

      2. There are lots of “damaged goods” out there. Not only race-inflicted damage, but as Daedal2207 pointed out earlier, various class groupings with their “in groups” and “outcasts”. I venture to say that not one of us has lived many years without experiencing traumatic emotional (and material), unjustified and justified, rejections. I have not commented on how “hard” it may be to heal the damages. I can say, however, that it would be wasteful not to heal as quickly as possible. My recommendation is that of asking where do we go from here? In every case we try to heal past damage and try to avoid future damage. To be successful it would be good to understand the objective truths of just what “here” is, and then we may more realistically project from this “here” the better paths. If one chooses a “get even” path it would be a good idea to blame and correct that which is truly responsible and not flail away at that which is not. I have heard it said, (Louis Mumford) “The city is man magnified”. I think that we can extrapolate from that the idea that any “group” provides for our sentiments a form of magnification (for good and for ill). An individual wronged is painful. Believing that it is your group that has been wronged provides a magnified (bigger than yourself) pain – and along with that the potential to be part of a delicious, bigger-than-self cause. It is important that this cause be just, and not just a dangerously addictive means to feel more important.

        1. DS said: “It is important that this cause be just, and not just a dangerously addictive means to feel more important.”

          The above is a blind, insultingly arrogant and insensitive concluding statement. One has to wonder if there is cruelty equally expressed in the respondent’s art?

          Chris Rock, last night: “What I’m trying to say is, you know, it’s not about boycotting anything. It’s just, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. Not just once. Leo gets a great part every year and, you know, everybody, all you guys, get great parts all the time.”

          This is not pandering to “feel more important.” This is reality. There might be innocent unawareness by those creating such opportunities, but to suggest that one points out those oversights in order to make one’s self feel “more important” is to sink to a new low … guilt transfer. It begs another question: is the respondent that damaged and/or insecure? It’s merely rhetorical … no answer needed.

    2. Don,employing a logical positivistic approach to your “unity’s opposite” conclusion,I find (Merriam Webster antonyms and synonyms) that there is NOT ONE MENTION OF DIVERSITY.Instead words like confusion,disorganization,randomness etc, abound,What may be showing through your usual lengthy but careful analytic style is Hume’s”passion”.
      There has been much said on this blog of the indebtedness of our constitutional system (our declaration of independence,our bill of rights,our constitution)to British parliamentary democracy rooted in Magna Carta etc.The implication of uniquity of judgement by all wise founding fathers has an aura of God given preordained superiority and enduringness that tends to minimize the importance of regulation and the ability to course correct.Hume’s “passions” are ubiquitous in our affairs and make “knowing”almost impossible.In the absence of certitude which we agree is dangerous, course correctability would seem to be essential to our process.(Manifest Destiny has gone the way of the Divine Right of Kings.)

    3. Mr. Spencer,

      I agree with much of your recent comment, but disagree strongly with your conclusion, which seemed to be, in my mind, the result of a misunderstanding of the use of the term ‘diversity’ in American political contexts. The idea of ‘diversity’ is indeed centered on active support of the rights of every individual citizen; that is, a ‘diversity of backgrounds,’ which, as every individual is unique, every individual surely has. When people in America speak of ‘diversity,’ they are using shorthand for ‘the practice of equal protection under the 14th Amendment’ (1868, per E Pluribus Unum). Furthermore, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ means, “Out of Many, One,” therefore, as an idea, it does not make sense for it to be attacked or defended by either concepts of unity nor diversity, because the purpose of the phrase is to demonstrate that they are intrinsically connected. It’s about being a melting pot–one pot, many ‘diverse’ ingredients.

      Additionally, you seem to wave away the seriousness of the divisive forces that still exist, mentioning them only in passing, and in that way, mirroring your experiences with them. For others subject to such divisive forces (those that drive categorical hierarchies) these experiences are constant, and they cannot be waved away or mentioned only in theory, for they are very much in practice–today, at this moment. I am proud of the steps America has taken to diminish such divisive forces, but we cannot deny that there is much more to do.

      1. I thank both Claude and Alexander, for suggesting clarification as regards the use of “diversity” and “unity”. Our efforts to accurately communicate go astray when words go wrong. My background in the arts employed a useful concept when trying to explain some aesthetic fundamentals. “Variety in unity” gives the mind a conceptual tool with which it may more easily understand why a composition feels chaotic, or why it feels dull or boring. Variety is difference – unity is sameness. (When I look up “diversity” in my thesaurus the first word listed is “variety” – “uniformity” is its antonym). Neither is bad or good by itself. But given a composition consisting of many elements, there can be too much of one or the other. We can make judgments as to their appropriate blend – and how we might correct excess in either direction. Alexander, you are correct in pointing out that diversity (variety) and unity (sameness) are “intrinsically connected” – in the arts as well as in the political sense. Our many individual differences (variations), be they physical or intellectual, are given a power of unification by being made equal under the law. (Euclid) “Two objects that are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.” The law is that thing. One (or a group) cannot be made “special” (different) under the law without diminishing to some degree another, or others right to being treated equally under the law.

        1. The issue is around undoing a specialness.(the specialness of being inferior or chattel or being the physical basis of another man’s wealth or feeling of superiority).Your argument contains an assumption of a level playing field being in existence at some status quo ante time involving the same cast of characters.This kind of special (undoing)treatment,in my view, does not carry with it the diminution of another’s right to equal treatment under the law.
          I have to thank LR for sending me Bruce Levine’s “The Fall of the House of Dixie” augmenting and enhancing my perusal of Sven Beckert’s “Empire of Cotton” ,a contribution of JGT both books are helping me follow LR’s injunction to focus.

  6. Economists with the Brookings Institution tell us that the longevity gap between the rich and poor is widening. The lower 10% and the upper 10% are both seeing progress, however, the longevity benefits are not evenly distributed. But why should we expect equal results? Nature didn’t make us equal in abilities or in health. Those capable of cultivating the disciplines that help them become high earners are also more likely to develop the disciplines needed to maximize good health habits (which include selecting the best options among advances in medicine and health care). Those less able to make good judgments, or handicapped by poor health are likely to be among those making less money and experiencing a lesser life span. The fact that longevity has increased so much for so many is marvelous news.
    When we see statistical evidence that some racial groups in the U.S. have considerably longer life spans than others, and one of the longer living groups tends to be among the poorest, we have a much more interesting mystery. The December 21, 2015 issue of National Review published an article on race, class, and health showing that America’s Hispanics and Asian-Pacific minorities are the healthiest people on earth. Nicolas Eberstadt writes, “Mortality rates for America’s Asian and Hispanic minorities have been better than those of non-Hispanic whites for many decades – in fact, for as long as such numbers have been compiled.” “If we are to improve our country’s public-health conditions, we should try to understand what is going right in those populations, all socioeconomic disadvantages notwithstanding. Are such superior health outcomes due to behavior? To lifestyles? To outlook and attitudes? To the disproportionate representation of immigrants among them? To some combination of these things?”

    1. [This is ST”s Reply copied from email:]
      This response is the conflation of two entirely different,if related things.1.Socioeconomic minorities tend to be ethnic minorities.2.Ethnic minorities have different health risks/realities than white people.
      The stat of of Hispanics and Pacific-Asian Americans being ‘the healthiest minority on earth'(I haven’t read the study) doesn’t say anything at all. Of course that’s true,the medical care in America is the best in the world.This country is rich, and wealth is relative. If the gap between people at the top and people at the bottom continues to widen,the people at the bottom will die sooner.This is NOT racial.It is socioeconomic.So Mr. Spencer,we traverse a familiar road.The goal is not to ‘[cultivate]’disciplines to meet your idea of success,it is about strengthening the ladder,so that though always inherently “unequal’ we continue to strive for balance.
      Here are the facts: Racial minorities will be disproportionately affected by a greater gap and therefore,according to Daedal’s link,a lower life expectancy.This is because we haven’t created enough opportunities for them to climb the ladder…and I don’t mean setting a quota for minority nominations at the Oscars. I mean institutional structures(their nominations at the bottom within reach) enforced and reinforced to withstand the stampede of people who will use them if they are there.The poor will always be worse off than the wealthy, in more ways than just health.That doesn’t mean they all have to be black or Hispanic, or Southeast Asian.

      1. I agree with the journalist except for her assertion that U.S. medical care is the best in the world.Compared with other developed countries we are below par(often below a median) in infant mortality, maternal morbidity,obesity,(and associated ills like diabetes,stroke,heart disease etc.)addiction..Where public health measures count (against third world countries) we do reasonably well.Much of our highly technological interventions go to the very end of the life cycle and are spottily accessible to those who do not have outstanding health plans(despite Obamacare).

        1. Our psychiatric care (mental health care if you prefer)as pointed out prior by RMV , is a disgrace.The prisons and the streets are the major providers of long term care.(…and much short term care)

      2. “This is NOT racial. It is socioeconomic. So Mr. Spencer, we traverse a familiar road.The goal is not to ‘[cultivate]’disciplines to meet your idea of success, it is about strengthening the ladder, so that though always inherently ‘unequal’ we continue to strive for balance.”

        WELL SAID!! (I think I recognize the voice.)

        “… we haven’t created enough opportunities for them to climb the ladder… institutional structures … enforced and reinforced to withstand the stampede of people who will use them if they are there.The poor will always be worse off than the wealthy, in more ways than just health. That doesn’t mean they all have to be black or Hispanic, or Southeast Asian.”

        Precisely … and “In more ways than just health.” Plagiarizing my own post in another venue, do words have consequences? http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/us/politics/trump-pigs-blood-sister-chapel-hill-victim-barakat.html?login=email&module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=2&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/us/politics/trump-pigs-blood-sister-chapel-hill-victim-barakat.html&eventName=Watching-article-click&_r=0

        If the answer is “yes,” is accountability expected? Is there disparity in accountability? If so, is that disparity income-related … as in life expectancy (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/health/disparity-in-life-spans-of-the-rich-and-the-poor-is-growing.html?login=email&_r=2)? Definitely socioeconomics. In denying that fact, there is a callousness akin to blaming the rape victim. Where is the accountability to the Middle Class when it was the victim of fraudulent-encouraged action resulting in … oops … the floor is removed from underneath it? Now, you’re really poor/disadvantaged. Oh, yes … it should have known better than to have pursued the “American Dream” and overextended itself! What is the message? Work hard but don’t strive/dream? Again, where is the accountability of the puppeteers? OK, Bernie Madoff. And? Nowhere near the punishment visited on the poor. Justice not equal. Trump’s words, spoken by the downtrodden, would have been considered seditious … and, you know where that lands you … if you’re still alive.

        Back to how we’re to blame for the disparity between the top 1% … and the rest of us. In response to a statement made, based on the NYTimes article on the health gap, where it was pointed out that “… children of poverty didn’t ask to be born …”, it appeared that the inference was the irresponsible implications. Here’s where ST hits the nail on the head: where are the “institutional structures” to “enforce” and “reinforce?” Where is the commitment for public policy to address … rather than ridicule … the very issues that make us so contemptible to the very privileged? Birth control education = growing population = the need to feed = food = affordable healthy food = water = contamination-free water = water shortage = budgetary shortcuts = nutritional supplementation (very, very expensive) = population targeting (tobacco companies = junk food (free market excuse). Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (as the king of Siam would say). To quote Chris Rock: “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” But, of course, poor people are to blame for not having kept up with the rich in life expectancy gains. Class warfare is created by the thumb driving down instead of the ladder being there. Why the fear?

      3. Selin stated the following: “This country is rich, and wealth is relative. If the gap between people at the top and the people at the bottom continues to widen, the people at the bottom will die sooner.” The Brookings Institution economists pointed out that those at the economic bottom 10% had since 1920 compared to 1950 increased their longevity by three percent and those in the top 10% had increased their longevity by 28 percent. The people at the bottom have not been dying sooner (than they have in the past) and there is no reason to believe that they will in the future. The widening of “the gap” tells us only that those at the top are reaping greater benefits from our expanding health technology and understandings about health disciplines (and this should not be surprising for the multiple nature-imposed reasons listed earlier). It does not mean that health benefits are coming at the expense of those at the bottom. And, it does not necessarily mean that access to the rungs of the “ladder” are not available to minorities. As Selin agrees, we would expect that the wealthy have advantages that those with less do not have. This is why the National Review article should be of great interest! Nicolas Eberstadt addressed exactly that issue showing us two minorities that are clearly economically disadvantaged and yet statistically demonstrate that they on average outlive even the most economically advantaged top 10% of whites. Those of us who find ourselves part of the white or “other” category should want access to whatever “ladder” these minorities are using.

        1. Delhi India provides its own comment on the “style setting proclivities of the upper social classes”not only wanting access to a particular ladder but rioting to procure same.It seems that the lack of water for sanitation and general health for a particular section of Delhi occupied by lower caste individuals produced legislation by the national government giving special access rights to those people with economic incentives allowing purchase of water at low cost..The upper class/caste,lighter skinned people then rioted demanding that the whole region be classified as lower caste giving them the social and economic benefits as well.The original designees then wrecked the dam leaving all with the same serious lack of water
          It is significant that the battle is not over gold or wealth but a real fundamental item, water. Another real fundamental item is food and yet another, clean air.Behind all the statistics is the need to share despite the obvious fear of being displaced in a pecking order and punished for generations of abuse of the traditional other.Those who know more about the area and the history are welcome to clarify the issues further.This is contemporary news not ancient history.It should occur to some of the powerful that education is the best preempter of retaliation.(Of course that too is subject to Spencerian ((not you Don but Herbert, the “nature red in tooth and claw guy” ))interpretation. [Social Darwinism]

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