America, Land of the Dying? Alarming Study Shows U.S. Killing Its Own Population

Yves here. Recall that one of Lambert’s rules of neoliberalism is “Go die”. So as he also often says, everything is going according to plan. Note that the study that Lynn Parramore summarizes found that mortality in America started diverging from other wealthy nations in 1980, just when neoliberal policies were getting traction.

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

With its economic and military might, America is hard to beat on technological wonders, space exploration, and top-notch universities. But when it comes to health, a fundamental prerequisite to a fulfilling life, the US isn’t delivering and hasn’t been for a long time. Researchers now find that the big picture of health failings is even graver than we already knew.

Piles of studies have called attention to the fact that in the country ranking number one in healthcare spending per capita, people are living shorter lives, feeling more depressed, and are more likely to skip treatment due to cost than in many developed nations. In a performance ranking of 11 high-income countries compiled by the Commonwealth Fund in 2021, the American healthcare system came in dead last, with the worst outcomes of any of the nations studied.

“The only wealth is life,” wrote the nineteenth-century critic John Ruskin. Recent research indicates that America may be rich in dollars, but getting poorer in ways that matter most.

In a stunning new report, “Missing Americans: Early Death in the United States, 1933-2021,” Boston University professor of global health and epidemiology Jacob Bor and colleagues pored over data from the CDC and a global mortality database. During the period investigated, they compared U.S. mortality rates with those of Canada, Japan, and 16 Western European countries. How many American lives would have been saved each year, asked the researchers, if U.S. mortality rates had matched those of other wealthy nations?

A staggering number, is the answer.

Millions Gone Missing

According to the researchers, the U.S. started out of the gate in 1933 as a global health frontrunner, showing a significant advantage in mortality rates over the peer countries studied. But starting in the 1970s, something went awry. Overall, Americans began to die at higher rates than their peers, a trend that grew steadily and picked up steam in the 2000s.

By the year 2019, the number of annual “excess deaths” had reached a stunning 656,353. Bor and his colleagues refer to these people who died as “missing Americans” — the friends, family members, and colleagues who would still be with us if only modern U.S. healthcare and social policy lived up to their early promise.

Consider, the figure of 656,353 missing Americans is the number of excess deaths just in the year 2019 alone. In a single year, we lost – needlessly – more than the population of Detroit, Las Vegas, or Baltimore. More than Atlanta and Miami combined. And this was before the pandemic. In 2021, the number of missing Americans swelled to 1,092,293 – a whole lot more than you could put on milk cartons. Even worse: half of them were under age 65.

Bor and his fellow researchers found that on average, not only were there more Americans dying relative to their peers abroad, the deaths were becoming younger.

These are human beings who didn’t have to leave us. People who had children, elders, and neighbors to look after. Contributions to make. Love and laughter to share. The researchers found a haunting way to help us envision the profound depth of the tragedy. Based on the age at which Americans succumbed and the number of years they could have been expected to live had they been born in Finland, Spain, Japan, or the other countries studied, Bor and colleagues tabulate that in a single year, 2021, America sustained 25 million years of life lost.

Again, the figure of 25 million years of life lost is only for the year 2021. In 2022, as even more people die at 60 instead of 80, millions more future years of life will never be lived. The coronavirus is supposed to prey most viciously on the elderly, but in America, people still in their working years have been dropping away at higher rates during the pandemic than in peer nations – as they have been for years. Unsurprisingly, Black and Native Americans make up a disproportionate share of those vanished years and lives.

What Changed?

Why, in a country with so much to spend – and so much spent on medical care – are so many lives being cut short? How did we start out so well and end up so badly?

Bor notes that the American mortality advantage in the late 1930s and 1940s was impacted by the high death rates in peer countries due to WWII and that the disadvantage of much of Europe and Japan likely continued for about a decade after the war because of the widespread devastation. But he also points to several other factors that probably helped Americans live longer up into the 1950s, such as the relative strength of organized labor and consequent rising wages, plus the large public investments that helped boost the middle class, like the GI bill and the promotion of high home ownership (with the caveat that these advantages were primarily available to White Americans).

Bor observes that the later period of American mortality advantage was likely bolstered by President Johnson’s War on Poverty and the marked expansion of the safety net by Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the racial integration of hospitals in 1963 and environmental regulation which made water and air healthier. “All of these programs and policies took some of the gains that occurred in the 1950s and expanded them so that it wasn’t just people with middle-class incomes and White people who had access to the determinants of a healthy, long life,” he explains.

Yet even during the period of relative mortality advantages, America’s inequality and structural racism likely held back the country’s longevity record from being as good as it could have been. Older populations in the U.S. have tended to have better mortality outcomes relative to peer countries than younger groups. Bor cites the fact that Americans have to reach the age of 65 before benefits like universal health care kick in as negatively impacting younger peoples’ life expectancy. This age-related trend shifted somewhat from 1980 to 2000, but the researchers found that in the 2000s, the age-related mortality picture is clear: the story of the U.S. disadvantage is primarily about people under 65 dying at higher rates than in peer countries.

The year when America’s overall mortality numbers diverged from other wealthy nations is 1980, according to the researchers’ findings. If the name Ronald Reagan comes to mind, you’re not alone: Bor notes that a Twitter discussion of the team’s work has homed in on this association. However, he emphasizes that the story is more complicated than one man’s presidency and its attendant policy changes, citing multiple factors such as the rise in opioid-related deaths in the 2000s, as well as increasing deaths due to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Gun violence has also increased America’s relative death toll.

In considering the widening gap between the US and peer countries in the 2000s, Bor points to the work of Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton on “deaths of despair” – the term for lives lost to preventable causes like suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism. Researchers like sociologist Shannon Monnat, who has studied the opioid crisis, have built upon this work, trying to understand why these deaths occur so frequently in the US.

Bor mentions the combined stressors of economic dislocation due to globalization and the loss of jobs and economic opportunity in some parts of the country, especially among those lacking college degrees, and the social implications of these trends, such as increasing numbers of men without jobs who are no longer considered husband material and thus lose the social support that comes with marriage. Compounding the problem, in Bor’s view, is “the failure of our politics to address it, or to even see it coming – and this was happening under both George W. Bush and Obama.”

As Bor and his researchers note, inequality is surely a big part of the picture. In 2017, economist Peter Temin described how America began to diverge into what are essentially two separate nations in the 1970s. One nation – around 20% of the total population — boasts college educations, good jobs, and access to quality healthcare. The other nation, where the 80% majority resides, is stuck with low wages, insecure jobs, fewer education opportunities, and unaffordable and inadequate healthcare. These are the people getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. Temin observes that the US economic structure now looks a lot more like that of a developing nation than a wealthy superpower, which may help explain why the country’s mortality rates as a whole can’t compete with peer countries where such bifurcation is less pronounced. Thomas Ferguson, Director of Research at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), has studied America’s increasing turn to money-driven politics, which has resulted in public-minded policies giving way to free market-driven policies that do not consider the needs of the majority.

These two worlds, the high-income and low-wage sectors, interact less and less, which might explain why many affluent Americans, including the doctors who attend them, are unaware of how dire the country’s overall health record has become or how many are dying young compared to peer nations.

But the low-wage world knows something about it first-hand. The Covid crisis has illustrated how many Americans are not simply ignored, but placed directly in harm’s way — expected to sacrifice their very lives for the benefit of the affluent. This attitude was succinctly expressed by Dan Patrick, lieutenant governor of Texas, as the pandemic raged: “There are more important things than living,” he stated. Like an economy that mostly benefits the few?

Bor acknowledges the need to discuss policies that would help the U.S. turn around its dismal mortality record, but he believes that the first step is to make the public aware of the urgency of the situation. Even he, an epidemiologist, has been taken aback by what he and his colleagues found. “What surprised me in this research is how huge the number of missing Americans is, and how little a part of our public conversation… I am sure if you did a survey, people would have no idea of the scale of excess mortality in the U.S. We’re just way behind.”

A Turn for the Worse?

Unfortunately, if America was a patient, the doctor would likely be predicting a turn for the worse.

For starters, the nation’s pandemic response has been widely criticized, with data showing clearly that the U.S. record in saving people from the ravages of the virus is below average in the world and among the worst among developed and high-income nations. That’s certainly not helping the mortality crisis.

In the broader view, the fracturing of the country into a dual economy is not improving. To add further stress, Peter Temin has illuminated in his most recent book that racial disparities in the U.S. economy appear to be getting worse, not better.

Unbridled capitalism is not good for life expectancy. For example, the increasing move of private equity into healthcare since the 1980s in the US has alarmed many experts, as INET has highlighted in research by Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt, and also in work by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen on private equity’s political contributions. A series of articles on the pressure put on emergency rooms by private equity to cut costs has further illuminated the danger to American lives from this rapacious part of the financial sector, which squeezes ever-steeper profits from human bodies.

Meanwhile, as the health of Americans is deteriorating, the Supreme Court attacks environmental regulation, gun protections, and delivers a shocking blow to women’s health. If U.S. programs and policies of the 1960s expanded upon the gains that occurred in the 1950s, then many of those in the 2020s are doing the opposite – they are intensifying the failures of past decades.

“It’s one of the tragic ironies of our era,” says Bor. “Populations that have seen some of the worst trends in health outcomes over the last 40 years are electing leaders who will further exacerbate those trends through policies that are inimical to public health – whether that’s a failure to expand Medicaid, failure to regulate guns, or abortion restrictions that will lead to negative short-term and long-term health consequences for women.”

All of this points to the uncomfortable reality that US democracy is not functioning as it should. When elected officials do not reflect the will of the people, which surely, at a most basic level, is to live, then something has gone badly wrong. “The thing that I find most frustrating is that you’d expect in a democracy that the political system would respond when there’s a mass health crisis, when peoples’ material realities have been in decline,” says Bor. “What you see is exactly the opposite. It seems very bleak but then you think, gosh, there has to be an opportunity for a new politics here.”

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  1. Amfortas the hippie

    almost nothing angers me like this thoroughly evil reality.
    ive mentioned it all before…likely many times.
    6 1/2 years to get a hip replacement…laid up most of that time…still unemployable(at least out here, and within my skillset)
    the government disability insurance i paid the premiums on all my working life: worthless.
    what it was good for was stigma(moocher, lazy, etc) and the spectacle of my employees(the people who administer it) reckoning by default that i was attempting to defraud the gov.

    just a minute ago, i was looking around for where to get a passport…so i can go to Mexico to get major dental work done, without spending an arm and a leg.
    also researching Mexican Dentistry….in the “richest country” in the history of the world.

    it is shameful, to say the least…and that i know so many uppermiddle and above who have no idea of just how bad it is…and deny to the point of anger that we’re already a failed state for a whole lot of us hoi polloi…is still shocking, to me.
    this even in this far place, tight knit, and where the local bougie class is literally confronted with the problem daily….as in they all have relatives and people they know well that simply cannot obtain timely healthcare without falling further into penury.
    bake sales as healthcare plans.

    and Dan Patrick…”the Radio Preacher”…is on my list to be included in the Texas leg of the Piss On Their Grave Tour….he encapsulates the cruel idiocy of this state better than just about anybody i can think of.

  2. Alice X

    A vital though disturbing piece, thank you!

    And as to:

    Dan Patrick on coronavirus: ‘More important things than living’

    It is difficult to believe a public official could utter something so appalling.

  3. Carla

    To me, nothing, and no one, said “Go Die” quite as clearly and succinctly as the 47 Republicans who voted against the $35 cap on insulin prices. Breathtaking!

    1. T_Reg

      What about the 193 Republicans who voted against the House standalone bill (HR6833)?

      BTW, can’t find a Senate vote on this type of bill. Amendment, maybe?

      1. Carla

        100% agreed. Insulin should be free.

        Also 100% agree with your comment below: Biden should issue his own executive order. Oh, the mendacity…

        1. orlbucfan

          Oh for petessake, Byedone is a bought off RWinger. You can bet his Covid recovery was due to his being part of the $$worthless$$ class getting the platinum healthcare we all deserve. Amfortas, I’ll up you one: I live in Floridumb, the land of tRump, Sick Rott (R. Scott), and DeathSantis.

      2. sadie the cat

        Absolutely, bipartisan. There are no good guys here, except for Trump who actually did something decent! Then Biden quashed it. It’s bad enough that both parties are callous and on-the-take, but we don’t help ourselves with vague recollections about who did what.

        Thx for the link.

    2. MT_Wild

      Which of course begs the question why doesn’t Biden issue his own insulin price cap Executive Order if it’s a priority for the Democrats?

      Go die. Because markets.

        1. Judith

          “Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is displeased by the legislative sprint to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, the sweeping energy bill financed in part by reductions in the price of key pharmaceuticals.

          “I want to say it is very disappointing that they are choosing to single out one industry,” Bourla said during a call with investors last week.

          The legislation, said Bourla, includes “specific measures to affect only the pharma industry, particularly when we are out of a pandemic, where this industry has proven the value that brings to public health and to the global economy.”

  4. Patrick Donnelly

    Democracy is representational.
    Professional politicians cause cronyism that overrides even mercantilism. Having a fake two party system means there is no accountability.

    We know where that eventually leads.

  5. JTerth

    “Consider, the figure of 656,353 missing Americans is the number of excess deaths just in the year 2019 alone. In a single year, we lost – needlessly – more than the population of Detroit, Las Vegas, or Baltimore. More than Atlanta and Miami combined.”

    No, it does not equal more than those cities combined. Furthermore it is a misleading presentation of numbers. Atlanta has a population under 500k within city limits, but a metro area over 6 million.

    1. Joe Well

      I have seen that comparison made with Boston a lot (“San Antonio has more people than Boston!”) and it always annoys. Counting urban population is another way the US is an international outlier.

  6. Daniil Adamov

    Democracy is good for one thing: hindering political actions that would harm the self-perceived interest of the majority. “Self-perceived” being one of the main limiting factors.

    1. Synoia

      What is this “democracy” of which you write? There is some Periodic Ritual we endure, but no influence that I can discern.

  7. YankeeFrank

    “With its economic and military might, America is hard to beat on technological wonders, space exploration, and top-notch universities. But when it comes to health…”

    The sad truth is that our “massive” economy is made up of financial speculation and service jobs and our military might is a bunch of aging nukes that would do nothing but destroy the entire world. Our technological wonders these days are mostly just a thousand websites for ordering stuff and pharma drugs that kill and maim (but make a lot of money!). And space exploration? We went to the moon in 1969. Now we can’t even keep the ISS flying w/o the Russians. And as for top-notch universities: they’ve been in decline for many decades and now produce… profits and largely useless degrees (but a lot of networking opportunities and new buildings).

    The quoted paragraph is just sad cope. Our nation is completely hollowed out and can’t sustain itself and is showing this in a thousand ways plain for all to see but our spoiled and corrupt so-called “elites” who have failed catastrophically to maintain the legacy they were bequeathed. The psychological break when it finishes its collapse will be the most dangerous time in human history, which we are seeing the contours of forming now. Stopping the elites from blowing up the world when they realize the calamity of their failure will be our most important moment. There will be no glory. Only grim reality.

    I’d say “I hope I’m wrong” but I honestly can’t take much more of greedy old fools like Pelosi and the rest looting us and goading Russia and China into war. Gerontocracy is horrifying indeed.

    The left, such as it is, is eating itself and descending into grotesque decadence and the right just doubles down on libertarian nonsense and posing as tough guys. They spend their days shouting past each other with dead ideas not realizing they are the flip sides of the same collapse.

    Will enough of the American people wake up in time and will it even matter?

    1. Tom Stone

      No,it will not matter if the American populace “Wakes up”, there is no mechanism for peaceful change in the USA.
      Change is coming soon nonetheless and we will need some serious good luck to avoid nuclear armageddon.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Are former Confederate states the only states of concern? If antibortionism tracks with a militant religious-based opposition to human rights and even-handed secularism in general, then several Plains and Mountain states which are strongly antibortionist and pro-religionist also have
          launchable nuclear weapons. And bomber-delivered H-bombs can be flown to a base in any state that the antibortionist Civil Warriors want to fly them to if they can find sympathetic supporters within a fracturing Air Force to fly them there. And are any nuclear-missile submarines based in antibortion states?

  8. Eclair

    We returned last night from two weeks spent in a very affluent New Jersey suburb, built around the NJ Transit rail station with direct service to Hoboken and thence into the FIRE sector headquarters of Manhattan.

    Gracious early 20th century houses on tree-lined streets, a diversity of trendy boutiques and chic ethnic eateries, dog-walkers and joggers in the early morning and late evenings. Then they all disappear into their spacious, air-conditioned houses to escape the 90 degree heat.

    A human infrastructure supports this insulated lifestyle: cleaning ladies, yard maintenance guys, painters, A/C technicians, renovators, junk removers, trash men, dog minders, who are almost all Black, brown and/or immigrants. Amazon and UPS vans roam the streets, their drivers delivering packages of goodies, stuff ranging from new iPhones, to furniture, to books, to clothes and shoes. All to make life pleasant and contact-free for the fortunate inhabitants.

    These are the people who truly believe that the voters in other states who support Trump are racist ‘deplorables.’
    Who believe that the Planet is warming and decide to buy a more ‘sustainable’ dish soap. Who will, of course, live longer and healthier than their yard guy because they have an excellent, employer-provided health plan.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if all the . . . ” cleaning ladies, yard maintenance guys, painters, A/C technicians, renovators, junk removers, trash men, dog minders, who are almost all Black, brown and/or immigrants. Amazon and UPS vans roam the streets, their drivers delivering packages of goodies, stuff ranging from new iPhones, to furniture, to books, to clothes and shoes ” – type of people all had their very own political party? What would it support on their behalf? Or rather, what would they support through it?

      In a very real and non-sarcastic sense, since sarcasm is free and worthless at that price; what would such a party call itself?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Many names should be suggested. The more names, the more choice. Perhaps many such wannabe-the-one parties should be launched, and the strongest might emerge victorious enough to do battle in the wider electoral system.

          I have thought of Legal Abortion New Deal Party . . . LAND Party ( This LAND is Our LAND), or maybe Lower Class Majority Party, which could become a majority party if enough members of the Lower Class Majority are prepared to admit to themselves that they are Lower Class and never will be millionaires.

          Other possible names should be welcomed for consideration.

  9. LAS

    But, but, but … (snark) isn’t our growing concern for the “unborn” proof of our high regard for life? (snark)

  10. tegnost

    ““Populations that have seen some of the worst trends in health outcomes over the last 40 years are electing leaders who will further exacerbate those trends through policies that are inimical to public health – whether that’s a failure to expand Medicaid”

    This is a disappointing article in many ways when you put the “but in the real world” filter on it…
    B Sanders was completely robbed, whatever you might think of him from the center or the left. Indeed pretty much every working class person i talked to, republican or dem would have voted for him but he was summarily denied in rooms full of smoke and grifters.
    Also the million people under 65 dying, well social security needs poor people to die if it’s going to be able to send rich people checks until they’re 100.
    Considering the number of the true blue who claimed “but the economy” re covid, dan patrick just said the quiet part out loud. On the bright side wealthy people can now get 7000 bucks towards their new electric car….where’s larry summers talking about how inflationary that is and worrying that it’ll keep them from working like he did over the trump money? And to cap it all off the seattle paper yesterday had a rodney danferfield type pic of biden on the front page with the headline something like “what’s a guy gotta do to get a little respect around here…”

  11. LawnDart

    Inaccessible healthcare, crappy food, crappy jobs, a time-pressed, high-stress, precarious existence… screw that.

    Maybe we can make ’24 the year of the Great American General Strike?

  12. Mirjonray

    Navigating through the US healthcare system is like trying to navigate through land mines and bear traps. You make one mistake and you’re on the hook for thousands of dollars for diagnostic procedures alone. Heaven help the poor sinner who needs actual treatment! The system is designed to discourage useage at every possible entry point.

    1. Tom Stone

      Thousands of Dollars?
      Make that hundreds of thousands of dollars,at least.
      My Co pays for chemo ( And the 5 trips to the ER and the 5 days in ICU ) were in excess of $350,000.

  13. Rolf

    All of this points to the uncomfortable reality that US democracy is not functioning as it should. When elected officials do not reflect the will of the people, which surely, at a most basic level, is to live, then something has gone badly wrong.

    Something has indeed gone badly wrong, and the simplest, Occam’s razor-rational conclusion is that we no longer have a democracy, republican or otherwise. Publications by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, among others, over decades have shown that the will of the majority of Americans, regardless of party, is statistically insignificant compared to that of corporations and a tiny number of extremely wealthy families and individuals. One could conclude from this that the US has only the trappings, the relict artifacts of democracy — not the real deal. “Just vote!” is the retort by Obama, Pelosi, and other enablers of this farce. Why?

    Will this corrupt political house somehow manage to annihilate itself, or will the dollarized system that supports it crater catastrophically? I clearly don’t know, but from my limited perspective it seems change has to come from without, not within.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > the majority of Americans, regardless of party, is statistically insignificant compared to that of corporations and a tiny number of extremely wealthy families and individuals

      I don’t remember voting for “Let ‘er rip.”

    2. thoughtfulperson

      Yes, I was just thinking of that study.

      Lets face it: The billionaires have all the influence and power.

  14. shinola

    “If you want to get rich, become a doctor. People will pay nearly anything if their life or health depend on it.”

    Econ. prof. (& my student counselor) 1974…

  15. Gusgus 2021

    I have noticed that the US has a sense of dread almost ,even Canada doesn’t have the feeling ,and going to Europe you notice it as well. I mean look at the Homeless problem in any city in any state…….I thought it was supposed to be a shining city on a hill

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      That’s the American Exceptionalism Dream decoy.

      Someone should articulate an “okay town in the valley” to set against the shining city on a hill. Make that the cheaper dream of American Okayness Ordinarianism.

      Okay is good enough.
      America Number Whatever.
      MAOKA. ( Make America OK Again).
      Let America lead America. Let the World lead the World.
      America needs a cheaper dream.

      And the “okay town in the valley” could be a symbol of that cheaper dream.

    2. digi_owl

      It was only that as long as one contrasted it with the absolute monarchies and fiefdoms of Europe at the time. WW1 basically broke that system, and WW2 cleared out the remains.

      And it only really held up as long as the cavalry kept chasing away the natives. Making room for the settlers to plow and mine and generally deplete the land to the benefit of the money men on the coast.

  16. sharonsj

    Bil Maher talks a lot about health and food. I realized years ago that my eating habits weren’t great and I developed body pains because I was deficient in vitamins. I still don’t have the best eating habits, so I take a lot of vitamins and supplements and developed an interest in intermittent fasting. I’ll be 79 soon and in better shape than some of my friends.

    None of this is because of our health care system. I too needed a hip replacement, but had to wait until Medicare kicked in. Hospital charged $50,000, Medicare paid $40,000 and I was supposed to come up with the rest which almost equaled my yearly income. A charity came to the rescue. You have to be dirt poor to get any medical help or dental care. Lower middle class folks are screwed and middle class folks are learning that their insurance is often crappy. Politicians know that 2/3 of bankruptcies are due to medical bills, but they don’t care.

    1. RonR

      What a difference a country makes. My wife has had two knees & a hip replaced. Our cost? Zero. Nothing. Other than the cost of two nights in each case for me, as we were 50 miles from home. Sad, the greed in the US.

    2. digi_owl

      Because most of them earn more from peddling the CDOs and whatsnot that come out of all that debt being piled on and on and on, than they do sitting in office.

    3. BeliTsari

      We’re in the midst of watching Catastrophe Capitalism feeding we the peons to FIRE & PhARMA Sectors, in very plain sight. Media & social networking advocacy solutions, all fight tooth & nail to obfuscate & gaslight, but DENIAL is the real lethal worldwide pandemic. Not just brainwashed boomer yuppies or sneeringly obsequious PMC are watching loved-ones, coworkers & posters, online, recount mild COVID breakthroughs killing and disabling victims, months or years later & exponentially more acknowledge: our duopoly, complicit media and Intelligencia are blatantly forking poor folk to the ever more ravenously feeding sharks? Happened to see Network, again, last night, Ned Beatty’s rant?

  17. Sue inSoCal

    This isn’t anything that’s bound to change; Lambert’s nailed it. Dealing with Medicare for a chronic degenerative condition is an impossibility unless perhaps you are near a University, and I’m not. (The exception is if there’s an extremely expensive under tested newfangled drug to push.) I think I’ve mentioned this, but once I was placed on Medicare I had (and am still having) an impossible time getting (wait for it….) cheapo single use catheters!! This operates exactly as planned, imo. You throw your hands up and buy em yourself if you don’t want sepsis.

  18. TimD

    The famous Neoliberal, Margaret Thatcher once said, “There is no society.” America has embraced that and largely ignores the problems mentioned in this article. When I brought up the fact that over a million Americans died from Covid – people say that that is not many out of 320 million. They don’t even care that the US ranked in the bottom 20 countries in the world in its ability to protect its population from Covid. When I talk about declining life expectancy and a birth rate that is below replacement, people say it will be easier for them to find housing or get a better job. It is like America is some big, fat milking cow that you just take milk from – you never have to feed, clean or ensure it is healthy.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Ask not what your country can take from you – ask what you can take from your country.

  19. Darius

    Aziz Rama talks with Rania Khalek here about how the US isn’t a democracy, and the Constitution fosters rule by entrenched minorities.

    1. digi_owl

      I do not question the message, but the term minorities brings along quite a bit of baggage that may muddy the water. This much like “positive” feedback loops etc…

  20. Susan the Other

    My daughter is 47. Her generation, her high school friends, has taken a hit. She counted up the deaths of those old friends – 33 of them have died. Various accidents; lots of drug overdoses; a few alcoholics. It shocked me to hear this because almost none of my old friends have died and we are all pushing 80. Not that we don’t expect it at any time now – but still. 33 seems like such a big number. I think we live in a very strange “society.” I’m continuously amazed that it stays coherent because there is so little connection. Tolerant of things we should not be tolerant about – like inequality. It doesn’t seem to phase us. What will it take to change our understanding? It’s almost as if none of us ever learned to care. What went around came around, and these days nobody can even afford to care. Why bother to become a caring person if you can barely afford to even take care of yourself?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The “learned helplessness” lesson was taught over and over again till it was “learned” and “internalized”.

      People would have to learn “learned helpishness” in the teeth of all the learned helplessness teaching and training and re-inforcement maintained all around them and within them.

      Just as present real-time example, all the official elites and their spokes-trolls are carefully informing every American within reach of their voice that you are helpless to take actual steps which will actually prevent you from getting covid. The purpose of that teaching is to get everyone to accept the anti-public anti-health initiatives and advice designed to make sure that everyone gets covid.

      People who have decided to avoid getting covid for as long as possible and who actually find themselves not getting covid might be learning some learned helpishness. If other people see them not getting covid over the years to come and decide to ask them how they do it, they might tell those askers how they do it and also tell those askers something about learned helpishness.

  21. Another Anon

    I lived for a number of years outside the US, and I returned to the US only because my elderly parents needed a care taker. The one thing that I started to notice very soon after I arrived was that to live in the US is to live in fear.
    Fear that I won’t be able to find a decent doctor to treat my chronic condition and not someday go bankrupt.
    Fear that my financial resources will be limited and knowing that I may have to make a choice between living in a place that is inexpensive, and one where I can get good medical care because driving is not something I can do.
    Fear became the background music of my life.

    If fear is the background music of my life, depression became front and center. Depression from the realization that our overlords are both stupid AND evil. Depression from the quiet and not so quiet denigration I get when I present my food stamps or show my medicaid card.
    Depression that when dealing with officialdom, knowing that the seat on the other side of the desk was once mine.
    Depression; it can bring your life to a crawl.

    So you may ask, what keeps me going . It is
    The sense of purpose I have when helping others
    The joy of finding out new things about the universe and having once had a small role in uncovering them.
    The knowledge that there are still good people in the world and as Ian Welsh once wrote, “A cup of hot cocoa still tastes great on a cold winter night”.
    Satisfaction, it is still something that is possible to find.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Is it also possible to get satisfaction through successful revenge? If the establishment wants you to die, and staying alive in defiance of the establishment is revenge right there, and teaching others how to do the same is yet more revenge; is that another pathway to satisfaction?

  22. ckimball

    After Bernie Sanders spoke up to advocate for the addition of eye and tooth care to the Biden Inflation bill, it became as clear as day that the people who occupy the executive houses of our government have no love or respect for the people of our country or perhaps any country. The video of the moment after Bernie spoke and the background low voice response “come on Bernie”. His position did not merit anything from them. I won’t be able to forget that moment because it revealed so much more than I can know.
    I imagine generations of people raising families and working in this country the ‘new world’ all believing we were in it together to create a better opportunity for everyone without the legacy class distinction. All that sweat work in all fields to
    build a country that was all of ours. We agreed to the organization of government as a necessity to the accomplishment of a shared dream. We thought that our work was respected and necessary. We thought that the creativity and industriousness and invention that were the by products of our work and which we contributed with pride were ours as they were woven into our lives and families. Are we not as a population worthy of love?
    It is a shock that after all these years of living and being true to these ideas
    we are not worth even eye and tooth care. But then it was also a great shock
    when all that know how and strength was given to others who would have to exact less for their time. Who could believe that. These people should not feel proud of themselves for duping the American populace. It is easy to trick people who believe in the basic agreements we thought we shared and have put everything they have into it. If there is no love, what is there?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      There is the love for eachother of all those people who think that eachother deserve eye and tooth care.
      And there is the hatred that all of eachother can share against the people who think that none of the eachothers deserve eye and tooth care.

      And then can come the desire shared by all the eachothers to weaponise that hate and use it against the proper targets.

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