America is hurting. Even as the job market tightens and wealthy Americans are thriving, tens of millions of Americans are struggling to keep food on the table and secure adequate healthcare. The “American dream” — the faith in upward economic mobility and personal freedom — has been a foundational belief even though it left out large numbers of Americans. But now it is under siege.
The latest evidence of the threat to American lives and livelihoods comes in a new study that has found that life expectancy in the United States has declined in the past few years at the highest rate in nearly 100 years. The impact has been felt across the board, but the most severe consequences have been for Black and Hispanic Americans, with an even higher rate of decline among Native Americans and Alaska natives.
The precise causal effects of this devastating development have not been determined, but Dr. Steven Woolf has cited the following trends, as summarized by the New York Times:
“[A] fragmented, profit-driven health care system; poor diet and a lack of physical activity; and pervasive risk factors such as smoking, widespread access to guns, poverty and pollution. The problems are compounded for marginalized groups by racism and segregation.”
Many of these factors are tied to behavioral and cultural issues, like the dogged attachment to easy access to guns among many Americans and the opposition to masking in response to the COVID pandemic, but the other crucial issue is the failure to adequately invest in public health, anti-poverty programs, and environmental protection. This is in sharp contrast to the penchant of the executive branch and Congress to lavish near-record amounts of funding on the Pentagon. If the majority in Congress has its way, spending on the Pentagon and work on nuclear weapons at the Department of Energy will hit $850 billion next year, far higher than at the height of the Korean or Vietnam Wars or the peak year of the Cold War, adjusted for inflation.
Read the full piece in Inkstick Media.