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Lower Incomes Kill People

Lately I have gotten a number of blog responses and Facebook feedback indicating that the disappearance of the Middle Class in America is unimportant. It seems to some folks – usually those who occupy lower income strata themselves – that Americans who have lost their middle-income jobs in manufacturing and other industries should just learn to live with less, and simplify their lives. They argue that employers shouldn’t need to provide health care benefits, and that the long waits and other maladies of socialized medicine are just an inevitability that America must come to grips with, and embrace.

Recent studies by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation report that African Americans die from diabetes twice as often as white Americans, the life expectancy of black American men is 6.3 years shorter than that of white American men, native Americans are 2.6 times as likely as white Americans to have diabetes, and Hispanic children under the age of three are 18% less likely to be in good health. Why? Because some American neighborhoods are healthier places to live than others, according to the Foundation’s Public Affairs Director, Adam Coyne.

Among the factors noted are: an abundance of liquor stores and “convenience” stores selling tobacco and fast food, a dearth of retailers offering fresh fruits and vegetables, and little open space devoted to exercise and fresh air. It’s also fairly obvious to experienced observer that drug abuse, violent crime, and generally unhygienic environments typify lower income neighborhoods. An article by Rick Docksai in The Futurist magazine (http://www.wfs.org/node/1128) quotes Jim Marks, the Foundation’s Senior Vice President: “If you’re in inner-city Detroit, where there are hardly any supermarkets, where are you going to get fresh foods? It’s structured such that it discourages some from leading a healthy life.”

Research conducted in 2008 by the Center for Health Disparities Solutions at Johns Hopkins University (seems there is a foundation or an institute for everything these days) confirms that people with lower incomes tend to die sooner, and for similar reasons, citing: Supermarkets are 4.3 times more likely to be located in predominantly white neighborhoods, full-service restaurants are 3.4 times more likely to be located in predominantly white neighborhoods, low-income African American neighborhoods have eight times as many liquor stores as other neighborhoods, and tobacco companies advertise more heavily in African American neighborhoods. Researcher Tom LaVeist says: “You put anyone in a low-income environment, and they are going to be sick. It doesn’t matter what race they are.”

Researchers like LaVeist want to move us all toward socialized medicine, relying upon a combination of “universal health coverage (see my blog on Obamacare), expanded health care services, and community enhancements” to achieve equality in the heath of all Americans. Unfortunately, just as allowing American jobs to be exported is “leveling the playing field” by lowering the annual wages of displaced manufacturing workers by roughly $30,000, leveling the health conditions for all Americans would require a tremendous redistribution of wealth from productive middle-class America to those without an adequate income to provide it. Rather than addressing the root cause of declining incomes due to the declining industrial base in America, they support moving toward the models of Great Britain and Canada. In that scenario, we place heavier and heavier tax burdens on income producers until almost no one can afford decent heath care, decent food, or a clean hygienic place to live. Only the elite upper class will be able to afford the effective modern health care and fresh, nutritious food that Middle Class America enjoys today.

I believe the solution is not more government intervention. The solution is restoration of America’s industrial base and American jobs that pay middle class wages. We need to provide opportunities for the people in lower-income neighborhoods to go to work and earn a decent living, providing for their families in a way that lifts them out of poverty and enables their children to do better.

What do you think?

4 Responses to “Lower Incomes Kill People”

  1. Marie Luft says:

    I agree. However, “middle class wages” in this day and age is not the same as “middle class wages” of even 50 years ago and therein lies the problem. Wages (and cost of living) has been steadily increasing until, at some point, they are no longer sustainable and maybe now, with globalization, we have reached that point. There are jobs out there, but the mind set is that they do not pay enough and our traditional work ethic has gone out the window. There are training and retraining programs out there also, tho it might take a little effort to find one. “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible, but is a good thought to keep in mind -:)

    • I agree wholeheartedly. You may have seen an exchange with one of my neices on Facebook a couple of weeks ago where she was lamenting the fact that there was no job “waiting for her” when she graduated from college with “a worthless degree”, and a lot of debt. We all have to live with the choices we make, and in the vast majority of cases, it comes down to how hard we are willing to work. I realize that’s not always true, but after 50 years of observation, I believe it to be the case most of the time.

  2. Marie Luft says:

    I think I pretty much repeated myself in my first comments, so just scratch that. (lol)

    However, in my opinion, there are two things that need to be addressed in order to get lower income people jobs of any kind;

    1) Good availability to public transportation. I found, in helping youngest son in recent years, that transportation is a real problem. If you cannot afford an automobile, you must live in a large city, where there is public transportation, and then you must work during the hours that it is provided; (for example, Davenport buses only run until 6 p.m. and not at all on Sunday). That means a lot of walking (if you are able) or riding a bicycle (if you are able) and being out in the elements.
    Luckily for some, we do have one plant in DeWitt (Guardian) that operates a shuttle for employees from Clinton to the DeWitt plant and back …

    2) Good availability to “cheap” child care. Child care is expensive also and will fast eat up a paycheck. It’s nice when one has a neighbor or friend that can help out, but that’s not always possible. I guess the bigger companies do have help for this, but I don’t know of any help for the low income people that work for example in restaurants, retail, etc. …

    Unfortunately, these are social programs and it is hard to get funding for those …

    • Low cost child care will be required more as more mothers enter full time employment. Some would point to this as a condition caused by the decline in middle class wages that causes both spouses to produce an income in order to survive. Others would say that it points to the growth in a materialistic condition in American society.

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