Poverty Kills As The Rich Live Longer Than Ever (INFOGRAPHIC)

The Republican war on poor people has been killing Americans and now we have the proof. A study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows clearly that poverty compounded by Republican refusal to spend money on the poor is unnecessarily shortening the lives of millions of people. We know that it’s unnecessary because in the parts of the country where the poor are not treated like animals, they live longer.

It’s so bad that in some of the poorer parts of America, people have a life expectancy on par with developing African nations:

The poor in some cities — big ones like New York and Los Angeles, and also quite a few smaller ones like Birmingham, Ala. — live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or have seen rising life expectancy in the 21st century. But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter.

Meanwhile, the rich continue to live longer because in America, even longevity is for sale to the highest bidder:

…the gap in life spans between rich and poor widened from 2001 to 2014. The top 1 percent in income among American men live 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent; for women, the gap is 10 years. These rich Americans have gained three years of longevity just in this century. They live longer almost without regard to where they live.

Here’s the map put together by the New York Times color coded for average lifespan. Notice that most of the low-end life expectancy is located squarely in Republican controlled states:

health

This is a direct result of Republicans refusing to lift a finger to help those most in need. Between refusing to expand Medicaid, savage cuts to food stamps and a general attitude of “die quickly,” conservative politics are killing people with their greed and inhumanity.

But it’s more than just a lack of access to doctors that is killing the poor. By denying them any kind of economic help, the poor are forced to eat junk food because that’s all they can afford. By denying them a proper education and job opportunities, the poor are highly stressed, already bad for your health, and have been turning to drugs and alcohol to cope:

Life expectancy for the poor is lowest in a large swath that cuts through the middle of the country, and it appears in pockets in the rest of the country, in places like Nevada. David M. Cutler, a Harvard economist and an author of the paper, calls it the “drug overdose belt,” because the area matches in part a map of where the nation’s opioid epidemic is concentrated.

The good news/bad news is that in the places where the poor are not treated like lepers, they love much longer and healthier lives. Birmingham, Alabama took numerous measures to improve the public’s health and, shockingly, it helped:

In the area in and around Birmingham, Ala., the life span for adults in the bottom quarter of income rose 3.8 years for men and 2.2 years for women from 2001 to 2014.

Clearly, they must have used the big government to tell you what size soda to drink, right? Well, not so much:

The county expanded availability of preventive health care like vaccinations and mammograms by opening clinics in poorer neighborhoods in the 1990s and early 2000s (though recently it has closed some of the clinics). Although a relatively high percentage of the population lacks health insurance, a portion of local taxes goes to hospital care for those who cannot pay. The county has been ahead of the rest of Alabama in banning smoking in restaurants and workplaces, with a law enacted in 2012. And philanthropic foundations backed by old industrial money have funded campaigns to make people healthier in the Birmingham area.

If the Republican-controlled legislature of Alabama had expanded Medicaid instead of throwing a temper tantrum, these measures would be even MORE effective. Still, Birmingham proves that even with a state government dedicated to hurting the poor, local governments can, and do, still mitigate much of the damage.

The bottom line here is that while the rich reap the benefits of better doctors, less stress and access to healthy foods, the poor in large swathes of the country are denied the same, mostly by the rich and their puppets in the Republican Party. The net result is that millions of people are dying before their time so a small group of people can amass more wealth and power. Sadly, this drive to succeed at the expense of others is the new American Dream.

The only silver lining here is that many of those same poor people have finally, finally figured out that Republicans are not going to help them. Sure, they turned to Donald Trump for leadership but even after he’s gone, they’ll remember who’s been stabbing them in the back for decades. They may never embrace the Democrats but maybe, just maybe, they’ll start demanding Republicans stop catering to the rich while throwing the poor the crumbs.

We can only hope.


Featured image via NY Times