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White Lives Matter

Uploaded: Nov 13, 2015

That may be especially true of middle-aged Caucasians with limited educations. Their plight deserves social and political attention, because they are dying at an accelerated clip. So says a new paper published by the National Academy of Sciences from Princeton economists Ann Case and recent Nobel laureate Angus Deaton.

Let’s start by defining terms. The “mortality rate” is the number of people who die in a given time interval (usually a year), per 100,000 population. Those are “absolute rates,” which can be subdivided and compared relatively among ages and ethnicities, and traced across time to reveal trends. And the trend here is alarming.

Mortality rates in general are declining across the globe, especially in relatively peaceful nations. You’ll see in this graph that the US rate for Non-Hispanic Whites, ages 45-54, has bucked that trend by rising slightly, going from 401 in 1990 to about 412 now. When the numbers are controlled by limited education, they jump by fully 20%. Denominated in lives, that’s almost half-a-million lost early this century, versus a steady decline seen in prior years.

Contrast the rates for several similar countries, including the UK (400 to 270), France (455 to 320), neighboring Canada (360 to 249) and everybody’s favorite socialist example Sweden (340 to 204). Note, too, that the Hispanic White rate in the US fell from 380 to 262 (all values eye-balled). The similar African American mortality rate (not shown) is higher than 412, but it, too, has fallen significantly since 1990.

What’s going on here?

Case and Deaton suspect that several factors may be at-play. They do not relate primarily to traditional scourges like cancer (lung cancer is a big cause, but on the decline) or heart disease.

Looking at this next graph, poisonings, suicides and liver disease and way up, and they now account for a much larger share of deaths than they did in 1990, with diabetes up enough to worry about, but a lesser factor in the increase. Poisoning is a proxy for drug abuse.

Because those are self-destructive “lifestyle” behaviors rather than, say, infectious diseases or calamities, this phenomenon begs the question of why they occur with greater recent frequency. Case and Deaton point to two possibilities: drug abuse via now-more-available opioids, alcohol abuse and ultimately despair born of a segment of the population that has particularly “lost control of the narratives of their lives.”

As an 'aside,' part of the natural process of aging is a passing of the cultural narrative to another generation, in both conscious indignities and unconscious changes. Thus, we boomers are having to cope with a city we didn’t build on rock-n-roll -- and that we barely recognize anymore, movies, music and pop culture references meant for somebody else, and, of course, that point when you let those newest, coolest, next tech innovations pass you by. It’s a slow-creeping, incremental loss that is basically expected, and to which we grudgingly surrender, bit-by-bit.

This is that process on steroids, way faster and with a much earlier onset – and greater impact. It is a despair that arises out of the economic insecurity of lost jobs and absent prospects, a perception of loss of control, and a world of deteriorating “compositional amenities” that were the stuff of another recent tome in this series. It’s easy to suspect that it also finds political expression in the under-focused rage embodied in those anti-immigrant/when-I’m-President-we’ll-all-say-Merry-Christmas-again ravings of a certain presidential contender.

All that despondency has fueled an epidemic of self-medication, leading to severe health effects and suicides, posit Case and Deaton. They further surmise that African Americans and Hispanic Whites do not share the same mortality increase because their prospects were never as high, and they may perceive themselves as collectively making some progress. If they’re right, this is ultimately an artifact of the demographic changing-of-the-guard that proceeds apace in these environs – dare I say the lingering, gradual demise of so-called white privilege?

It should be noted that the study’s conclusions have been challenged by other academics and the punditocracy. Columbia statistician Andrew Gelman questions up to half of the increase for reasons beyond my undergraduate mastery of his craft, but even so, he writes “the change compared to other countries and groups is [still huge.” Tim Worstall writing in Forbes would also like to minimize the impact, but he appears to be motivated more by wishing away the policy implications than by satisfaction with his reasoning.

Others on The Right have surmised, of course, that it’s all Obama’s fault. As Paul Krugman notes, they suggest that “generous social programs have created a culture of dependency and despair, while secular humanists have undermined traditional values.” The evidence is contrary, however, as “life expectancy is high and rising in the Northeast and California, where social benefits are highest and traditional values weakest. Meanwhile, low and stagnant or declining life expectancy is concentrated in the Bible Belt.”

What-to-do-about-it is an even thornier issue, which has a great deal to do with public policies to counteract job-loss and the general hollowing-out of the middle class. The Right will trot-out (usually unspecified) commerce-killing regulations (and maybe even further tax cuts to promote widely discredited tricklage*), while The Left will argue for publically funded education, training, infra-structure programs and taxes-on-the-wealthy to fund them.

Either way, as we all listen to campaign proposals and promises over the coming year, it’s vitally important to recognize that success or failure Matters. It will be denominated in Lives.

* One memorable commenter varied an old saying and wrote “don’t trickle on my head and tell me it’s raining money.”
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 15, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Many Latinos and African Americans have not been hindered by racial/ethnic hatred. There will always high achievers in all racial/ethnic groups. Tragically, many good Americans do not realize their full potential.

Substance abuse will always limit the expectations/lives of abusers. Unfortunately, many good Americans have died from such abuse. Chemical dependency is an equal opportunity disease.

I agree that Trump may be at least half Coo-Coo Clock!

Medical and social benefits reduce the stress in the lives of many people resulting in longer and more full filled lives...that is wonderful!

It seems to me that for some folks, the hens have come home to roost. Who is perceived as privileged is changing. At 73, I'm as happy as a June Bug to be A L I V E and i mean it! Incidentally, I have always supported increased taxes for the wealthy. NO MERCY!

Your article reminds me of the history of British and French COLONIALISM. There was a time when those colonial powers, like any disease, had not mercy. I guess the hens have come home to roost?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 15, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Correction: There was time when those colonial powers, like any disease, had no mercy!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 15, 2015 at 2:27 pm



Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 16, 2015 at 9:15 am

I think that the demographics tell the story. White, middle aged, poorly educated, Red State men. This is basically a description of the heart of the Fox News demographic. And what is the world view they are force fed on a daily basis? The world is going to hell-in-a-handbasket. Fear, doom and gloom. War on Christianity. War on police. Illegal immigrants coming over the border with Ebola to rape our women and take our jobs. Those "other" people getting stuff we're not getting so they can live in an "entitlement society" while "we're" shut out. Affirmative action giving "others" an advantage we don't get.

Folks on the right are convinced the economy is terrible, when it's actually not just a whole lot better than six years ago but not bad on an objective basis. Folks on the right feel threatened by a wave of crime, when crime rates are actually half what they were 30 years ago.

Obama uses the Constitution as toilet paper! And he's not even an American or a Christian! ACA was "rammed down our throats!" Why isn't Clinton in jail after killing those people in Benghazi?!?! The liberal media is lying to us!! Everything is horrible and there doesn't seem to be anything we can do to stop it.

If you were fed a steady diet of that bullpucky, wouldn't you be depressed? Wouldn't you want to "self-medicate?" All that fear, anger and suspicion fanned by the people you trust on the tube, the radio, and on the websites you confine yourself to has to eat away at a person's sense of well being.

Posted by Maris, a resident of Carlton Oaks,
on Nov 16, 2015 at 9:59 am

Agree too with your point of vue


Web Link

Posted by Glerman Hates, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 16, 2015 at 11:19 am

Despondent self-deportee from the blog's Comments section on suicide watch.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm

I believe that if the Limbaugh and Hannity would fly out of their closets, the world would be a calmer place!

Karnak predicts that there is another World Trade Center incident in America's future.

get ready, it's on the way...look to the left, now look to the right, that's where it's coming from...nobody is safe


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Lets not ignore this Plutonians: Web Link

I try my best to provide some research to help others understand that murder of innocents is quite common in USA history.

Lots of Americans are talking about declaring war on Syria.

I'm against a war if there is a way to avoid it. I see no valid reason to hook up with Putin to attack anybody. There are also ways to vet refugees prior to being admitted to the USA. If there is a war, what Americans, by race/ethnicity, age, religion should be enlisted? My recommendation is that all able bodied citizens between the ages of 15-50 should be drafted.

No more enlisting people of color and the poor to fight your battles.

i rest my case...

Posted by peace at last, a resident of another community,
on Nov 16, 2015 at 1:31 pm

I'm free now - the frustration and anger have dispersed
Apathy is the only path to true happiness.

Posted by King O'Torts, a resident of Birdland,
on Nov 17, 2015 at 6:43 am

So, Monsieur Kluget, all that's needed is to find some evidence that Faux News is addictive (a reasonable explanation -- why else would people habitually subject themselves to such an unhealthy product?), and the trial lawyers will have a field day.

It'll be just like smoking, only even better for the country -- finally, a class action for middle-aged whites. It might even pull them out of their funk.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Trump DODGED the war: Web Link


It's curious that protecting America from the enemy has mostly to do with drafting the sons and daughters of racial/ethnic minorities and the poor...to die for the wealthy? duh...what's going on?

Even Trump's 3 children did not serve their country? They are all multi-millionaires and they love luv luv to kill innocent animals in Africa? What's that?

How many Plutonians pulled a fast one and NEVER EVER CONSIDERED JOINING THE US MILITARY SERVICES? HOW COME? i don't understand...afraid to die for the USA?
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...what's so bad about dying and resting 6 feet under with a nice pin and flag on your coffin/gravestone?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 19, 2015 at 11:59 am

How come JEBS life is so precious? Did he FORGET to serve in the US military? What's the story?

I have a hunch that he didn't wanna return to Texas in a body bag when he was draft eligible so instead he just said NO!

I've heard that he's waaaaaaaaaaaaaay stubborn and I guess that that's why he didn't serve our country in a war? The way I see, there's still time for he to suit up for war, join his cry for WAR ON SYRIA! and kill kill kill. tarzan say BONDULU BONDULU!

Teddy Cruz and the Mario didn't serve either? They're still young enuf to die for their VALUES.


Posted by beach bum, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm

As an independent libertarian I certainly find the political discourse on a thread such as this fairly depressing in it's own right..

I recall when the previous administration was in place we saw all kinds of similar knee-jerk venom from folks on the left.

But that was all warranted and valid back then, correct?

(disclosure: I didn't vote for either the current OR previous POTUS).

Posted by Bingo, a resident of Danbury Park,
on Nov 19, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Dear Beach Bum, You are guilty of misleading readers by way of your logical fallacy - so rampant in politics! This one is called the loaded question, not even worthy answering because the basis is faulty.
But worth pointing out so people don't take your bait. Waste of time.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Nov 22, 2015 at 1:51 am

Stacey is a registered user.

What is this racist drivel? You should be ashamed. White privilege and wealth allows for reproduction choices that others are not able to make.

Posted by Rudyard, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 22, 2015 at 6:50 am

For Stacey:

Take up the White Man's burden And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:—
"Why brought he us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?" Web Link

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Nov 24, 2015 at 2:30 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Take up the White Girl's Burden,
Send your kids to Africa to serve their social media needs,
To build without skill and instruct without knowledge,
To complain of local food and send forth tweets of their deeds.

Take up the White Boy's Burden,
A school roof fixed for proof of gain,
Give logo shirts of your missions trips,
And for every retweet, a Kony slain.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 24, 2015 at 9:44 am

Hi Stacey -- this stuff looks clever and with a distinct viewpoint, but I'm not sure I fully understand what you're saying.

Care to elaborate?

Posted by Steve, a resident of Birdland,
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Cholo, we all know the lefts belief if you keep repeating the same lie(s) eventually the praetorian guard media and the ignorant Americans will believe its the truth.
Fact of the matter is, the US military is a volunteer force.
Fact is, in 2010, 53% of all women enlisted, were 'white'. In 2010, 71% of all men enlisted, were 'white'.
Fact is, in 2013, overall, minorities made up only 30.7% of our active duty members, and minorities only made up 25.1% of our reserve/guard members.
Assuming you can do math, that shows an overwhelming percentage of our VOLUNTEER military force is comprised of (your hated race) whites.

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