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How the GOP is killing (Yes, literally) America

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This is not hyperbole. The Republican party literally is killing Americans.

Column: America’s decline in life expectancy speaks volumes about our problems
U.S. average life expectancies are lowest in the Southeast, highest on the West Coast and the Northeast. But why?(Jeremy Ney / American Inequality), BY MICHAEL HILTZIK, BUSINESS COLUMNIST, APRIL 5, 2023 5 AM PT

Years of widening economic inequality, compounded by the pandemic and political storm and stress, have given Americans the impression that the country is on the wrong track. Now there’s empirical data to show just how far the country has run off the rails: Life expectancies have been falling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that life expectancy at birth fell in 2021 to its lowest level since 1996, a decline of nearly a year on average from 2020. That was after a decline by 1.8 years from 2019 to 2020, producing the worst two-year decline since 1921-23.

These figures open a window on a set of pathologies unique to America among developed countries.

America is seeing the greatest gap in life expectancy across regions in the last 40 years.

COVID-19 is the most obvious and convenient culprit, both for the absolute decline in life expectancy and the divergence between the experiences of the U.S. and its economic peers.

Most developed countries have begun to recover the longevity losses they experienced during the pandemic; thus far, there’s scant evidence that the U.S. is following the trend.

The U.S. suffered a greater rise in mortality and premature deaths than its peer countries during the pandemic years of 2019-21, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation Health System Tracker.

Remember how initially President Donald Trump denied the severity of COVID, and said it would “just go away.” He lied. It didn’t.

His public attitude led to Republicans refusing masks, refusing vaccination, chasing fake cures like  hydroxychloroquine, and foolishly gathering in crowds that caused the spread of the infection.

Loyalty to Trump over America demanded a cavalier attitude about contagion and healthcare.

“COVID-19 has erased two decades of life expectancy growth in the U.S., whereas the average life expectancy for comparable countries has decreased only marginally, to 2018 levels,” the Health System Tracker found.

That may not be surprising. Few developed countries other than the U.S. turned COVID and anti-pandemic options into political issues, converting such proven treatments as vaccines into partisan litmus tests.

Hundreds of thousands (!) of Americans died needlessly because of Trump’s lies and the Republican party’s obsequence.

Even now, in 2023, more than 90,000 Americans per year die from COVID. The vast majority of deaths  could have been prevented by vaccination.

A CDC chart showing COVID deaths in the US by vaccination status over a photo of a syringe drawing from a vial.
Unvaccinated people were 6.1 times more likely than fully vaccinated people to test positive for COVID-19 and 11.3 times more likely to die from it.

The GOP ignored warnings from legitimate sources like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who ironically, now is being vilified for not claiming the COVID virus came from a Chinese lab.

Blaming the Chinese for all our ills is a familiar Trumpian coverup tactic. 

Rather than blaming Trump for his role in causing the lethal spread of COVID, the GOP blames Fauci, who repeatedly warned about the dangers of the disease. Such is the GOP mentality.

But COVID is far from the only explanation for America’s dismal trend line.

The pandemic accounted for about half the decline in life expectancy, according to the CDC. “Unintentional injuries,” a category that includes drug overdoses, contributed an additional 16%, followed by heart disease (4.1%), chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (3%) and suicide (2.1%).

Those factors are connected to economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies, racism, climate change and political systems.

All of the above are denied and/or exacerbated by the Republican party.

The GOP is the party that wishes to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits, increase FICA taxes on salaried workers, eliminate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), reduce the Child Tax Credit, cut the SNAP (food stamp) program, reduce unemployment compensation.

As an overall goal, the GOP does everything possible to make the poor poorer and the rich richer.

The GOP values dollars over human life, so any Democratic effort to reduce air or water pollution, increase benefits to the poor, or to reduce gun violence, is met by GOP resistance.

Americans with the shortest life expectancies “tend to have the most poverty, face the most food insecurity, and have less or no access to healthcare,” Robert H. Shmerling of Harvard Medical School wrote in October.

“Additionally, groups with lower life expectancy tend to have higher-risk jobs that can’t be performed virtually, live in more crowded settings, and have less access to vaccination, which increases the risk of becoming sick with or dying of COVID-19.”

The most important governing factor is economics,observes Jeremy Ney, an expert in graphically displaying social and economic disparities.

“There’s a really strong relationship between life expectancy and income,” Ney told me. “Income is tied in with a lot of other things, like your ability to afford healthcare, your housing security, your distance from a toxic chemical site, things like that.”

“America is seeing the greatest gap in life expectancy across regions in the last 40 years,” Ney says.

America’s life expectancy is falling behind its international peers, including all high-income countries and Japan.  China’s life expectancy outstripped the U.S. in 2020.

That tells only part of the story. The lowest average life expectancies are seen in the states of the Southeast (the so-called “red states): South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi all had average life expectancies from birth of less than 75 years. 

The highest life expectancies were generally in states on the West Coast, the northern Midwest and the Northeast. Hawaii ranks first at 80.7, followed by Washington, Minnesota, California, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, all with average life expectancies of 79 or higher.

These geographical disparities aren’t artifacts of pure geography or demographics; they’re the consequences of policy decisions at the state level.

On average, the citizens of solid Republican states have the shortest lives. This is not a coincidence.

Of the 20 states with the worst life expectancies, eight are among the 12 that have not implemented Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The consequences of this obstinate Republican-driven resistance to a program whose expense is more than 90% covered by the federal government include closures of rural hospitals and high rates of uninsured residents.

In 1995, U.S. life expectancy was about six months less than those of high-income countries; by 2020 it was about three years, according to the World Bank.

In 1995, the U.S. had a commanding lead over China, which was about 5 1/2 years behind the U.S.; China then roared ahead, outstripping the U.S. in 2020, when its average life expectancy clocked in at 78.08 years, compared with America’s 77.28.

Read this article: The Child Tax Credit is our greatest antipoverty program. Why is Congress letting it wither?

— The enhanced credit, enacted in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan, the government’s pandemic relief package, reduced the child poverty rate by about 30%, keeping as many as 3.7 million children out of poverty by the end of that year.

— When the enhancements expired in January, the child poverty rate spiked to 17% from 12.1%, plunging 3.7 million children back under the poverty line. 

When one examines the factors exerting the greatest influence on longevity, the issue comes sharply into focus.

“Inequality in America is about so much more than income,” Ney says. “It’s healthcare and housing and education and taxes and race and gender and location.

Life-expectancy inequality in America is tied up in all these very different factors. “

At this moment, the quest for solutions appears to be moving in reverse. Consider the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned nearly half a century of federal safeguards of abortion rights and has opened the door to punitive attacks on women’s reproductive health care in dozens of states.

Even before Dobbs, health outcomes in Mississippi, the state whose antiabortion statute led to the decision, were “abysmal for both women and children,” the dissent by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan observed.

“Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the country, and some of the highest rates for preterm birth, low birthweight, cesarean section, and maternal death,” they wrote. “It is approximately 75 times more dangerous for a woman in the state to carry a pregnancy to term than to have an abortion.”

Not only do red states refuse to participate in ACA (which gives each state a financial profit), but they actively try to prevent their citizens from avoiding illness.

State seeks to ban mask, COVID testing rules by businesses A House committee Monday approved a bill that would prohibit businesses from requiring people to wear masks or take COVID-19 tests to enter their facilities. By Ryan Dailey News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — A House committee on Monday approved a bill that would prohibit businesses and government agencies from requiring people to take COVID-19 tests or wear masks to enter their facilities, with the measure’s sponsor calling such mandates “discriminatory practices.”

The proposal would build on prohibitions passed by the Florida Legislature earlier in the pandemic regarding health measures such as vaccination requirements, which are top priorities of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Republican-dominated committee approved the bill (HB 1013) in a 12-5 vote Monday, with Democrats decrying its potential impact on private companies.

“The keyword is private. Private businesses have the right to make their own decisions,” Rep. Marie Woodson, D-Hollywood, said before voting against the proposal.

The measure also would impose similar prohibitions on educational institutions, including provisions that would bar institutions from requiring COVID-19 tests or imposing mask requirements.

Under the bill, educational institutions also could face $5,000 fines for violations.

Then we move from the misguided to the absolute crazy:

The measure also would add requirements for health care practitioners. It would require practitioners to “obtain the informed consent” of a patient or their legal representative before prescribing any medications to treat coronavirus.

Under the bill, informed consent would include an “explanation of alternative medications” for treating COVID-19 and the “relative advantages, disadvantages, and risks” associated with those drugs.

A House staff analysis of the measure included Hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, Methanol and herbal medicines as examples of such “alternative” medications.

Use of drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin sparked nationwide debates during the pandemic, with DeSantis in 2020 backing the state’s bulk purchase of Hydroxychloroquine, despite research that showed it didn’t work on the coronavirus.

Under the 2021 laws, Florida private-sector workers can avoid vaccination requirements if they provide medical reasons, religious reasons or can demonstrate “COVID-19 immunity.”

In other words, the Republican party discourages vaccination but encourages Hydroxychloroquine.

Lawmakers in 2021 also barred government agencies from requiring workers to be vaccinated and reinforced a law known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that banned student mask and vaccination requirements in public schools.

Mandatory vaccination in schools has helped prevent the transmission of childhood diseases, many of which are potentially fatal.Easy-to-read child schedule

Easy-to-read teen schedule

Somehow, refusing vaccination has become a test of one’s loyalty to Donald Trump (who has had all his vaccinations) and to the Republican Party.

To avoid being branded a RINO (Republican In Name Only), one is expected to refuse vaccination on the basis of “freedom,” fake articles about the dangers of vaccination, or manliness.

The GOP has become the “We want you to die young” party. It’s followers are paying the price.

In summary, richer people live longer than poorer people, and the GOP is devoted to widening the Gap between the rich and the rest.

In addition to denying the results of elections they lose, the GOP denies science, healthcare, poverty, and via gerrymandering, the will of the people.

In a clear case of “you get what you vote for,” the GOP counts millions of poor people among its voters. And yet, they are the ones who suffer from their vote.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


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