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Medicine United States Science

US Life Expectancy May Have Peaked 1053

Posted by timothy
from the so-lose-some-weight-and-eat-some-spinach dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Live Science reports that although life expectancy in the United States has risen to an all-time high of 77.9 years in 2007 up from 77.7 in 2006, gains in life expectancy may be pretty much over, as some groups — particularly people in rural locations are already stagnating or slipping in contrast to all other industrialized nations. Hardest hit are regions in the Deep South, along the Mississippi River, in Appalachia and also the southern part of the Midwest reaching into Texas. The culprits — largely preventable with better diet and access to medical services — are diabetes, cancers and heart disease caused by smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. What the new analysis reveals is the reality of two Americas, one on par with most of Europe and parts of Asia, and another no different than a third-world nation with the United States placing 41st on the 2008 CIA World Factbook list, behind Bosnia but still edging out Albania. 'Beginning in the early 1980s and continuing through 1999 those who were already disadvantaged did not benefit from the gains in life expectancy experienced by the advantaged, and some became even worse off,' says a report published in PLoS Medicine by a team led by Harvard's Majid Ezzati, adding that 'study results are troubling because an oft-stated aim of the US health system is the improvement of the health of "all people, and especially those at greater risk of health disparities.'"
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US Life Expectancy May Have Peaked

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  • Third World America (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:51PM (#29136651) Homepage Journal

    Large portions of the low life expectancy part of America also take in close to 20% more federal funds than they put into the system. If you've ever stopped off at a gas station between New Orleans and Atlanta on I-10, you'd know how low the standard of living is there. We're talking large swaths of the states in that area with average incomes barely breaking the $20,000 mark. In defense of Texas, the portion they're talking about is between Beaumont and Texarkana, right on the border, bleeding into the Tyler/Longview area. Houston/Dallas/Austin have some of the highest standards of living (and lowest cost of living) in the country.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:55PM (#29136717) Journal
    Because it's going to come up, I want to mention that the biggest criticism of the US health care system is often that the US has lower life expectancies (thus trying to imply that the US health care system is not as good). This is a non-sequitur, if you really dig into the numbers, you will find that the main reason for lowered life expectancies is obesity. Here is a report. [bc.edu] Check the graphs, only Greece rivals the US in plumpness.

    Another common criticism is that the US has high infant mortality rates. This is likely because of premature babies, which aren't always counted in infant mortality rates in other countries. If you are planning on having a baby prematurely, the US is a good place to do it (but please don't plan on that).

    There are a lot of problems with the US health care system, for example, it is hard to get insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, the cost of malpractice lawsuits (and other things) drives up costs, not everybody has insurance (although we end up paying for them anyway when they go to the emergency room: no one can be turned away without treatment, which is good), but shouldn't we try to solve the real problems that are in the system, instead of trying to rewrite the whole thing from scratch? There are relatively simple solutions to all these problems, and as any programmer knows, drastically changing the structure of your program is only going to introduce more problems.
  • USA vs Europe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by homer_s (799572) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:59PM (#29136775)
    Here [blogspot.com] is a comparison of life expectancies between the US and Europe.

    For unadjusted life expectancy, the U.S. ranks #14 out of 16 countries, but for the adjusted standardized life expectancy, (adjusted for the effects of premature death resulting from non-health-related fatal injuries) the U.S. ranks #1.
  • drudge-dot? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:06PM (#29136919) Homepage Journal

    Oh stop already with the politics

    Yeah, you'll show em when you get political on the matter!

    "Stupid people do stupid things that cause them to die sooner." Not that there aren't stupid people everywhere, but in America we still have the right to be wrong to a much greater extent than the nanny states in Europe.

    So then are you saying that anyone who makes less money than you is inherently stupid in comparison to you?

    Enough with this continual blather about the 'disadvantaged/poor/etc.' if you nitwits aren't going to deal with the actual problem.

    Then kindly enlighten us 'nitwits', if you could.

    To a very high degree of correlation, the 'poor' aren't living in poverty because of a lack of money.

    Really? I don't know where you live, but I haven't heard of many people who are born into families with money and then end up broke.

    They lack money because they have make poor lifestyle decisions that RESULT in a lack of money.

    Which is ignoring the fact that some good decisions require money...

    Things like failure to get an education

    That is an excellent example of one. If you are in a poor family, you might not even have access to enough credit for student loans.

    Though even more so, if we want to talk about health care (which most reasonable people would agree has at least some correlation to life expectancy), we should note the relationship between health care and education:

    If you want a higher education:

    • You need insurance
    • Which requires a job
    • Which requires time
    • Which impedes on study time

    Hence many people of lower income status are stuck in failure spirals. While providing them with health care may not be enough to get them out, it should at least be able to help some people, both from that classification and others.

    Normally I wouldn't flame so hard but this entire article so reeks of slashkos politics I just couldn't hold back. Enough with the thinly disguised political stories outside the politics topic. Raise your hand if you actually think this was 'news for nerds' and not the DNC talking points being put into action.

    Were you not reading yesterday when a conservative opinion got made the slashdot front page [slashdot.org] and lead to a conservative orgy in the discussion?

    But don't worry, there may be some conservatives running around with left-over mod points who will mod your post up to +5 just as they did with several from other conservative authors yesterday.

    I thought that was what the current argument was about, whether we were going to HAVE a single "US health system" or not

    Perhaps you haven't been reading the news? Congress gave up on single payer health care at least a full month ago. It won't happen in this congressional session, period. Really the discussion now is just on how much the democrats will fold on any sort of change whatsoever; will they fold like a nice origami piece (perhaps a swan or a dove would be nice), or completely down like a lawn chair (to be stuffed away for the indefinite future in someone's garage)?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by couchslug (175151) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:17PM (#29137129)

    American popular culture, with its veneration of stupidity and trivial entertainment along with savage loathing of science and knowledge, is to blame for many of the social ills of the backward.

    I don't care about their life expectancy since their only function is to help make our society a Hellmouth. They can die young, and it would be nice if they take their window-licking fatass demon spawn with them.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:17PM (#29137131) Homepage Journal

    If people took care of their body then they wouldn't need to see the doctor's all the damn time.

    Actually, there has been quite a bit of talk about prevention programs, things like physical education in school, and other inexpensive options to try to get people to take better care of themselves.

    The problem is, that there is no good way to correlate it to money saved. If we spent X number of dollars on getting people to get off the couch and walking, it would be nearly impossible to say that it saved Y dollars on long-term health care (regardless of whether you choose a Y less than, greater than, or equal to X). And with all the calamity over the cost of the health care reform that hasn't yet passed either house, it is hard to sell prevention right now.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by saintlupus (227599) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:22PM (#29137211) Homepage

    I live in Buffalo, NY, the second- or third-poorest city in America, depending on who you ask. Yes, the city neighborhoods tend to have lots of corner stores that sell grape drink and Li'l Debbie knockoffs. But there are supermarkets and farmer's markets all over the city as well.

    The entire city is fewer than ten miles wide. A bicycle trip with a backpack could retrieve a week's worth of fresh produce in less than an hour.

    The problem isn't availability, it's education. Unfortunately, since poor neighborhoods also tend to have lots of single parents and a tremendous high school dropout rate, teaching that there's better food -- and a better life -- available is a bit of an uphill battle.

    --saint

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:25PM (#29137253)
    "We can dismiss the parents" ... the parents were children of some other nitwit parents, you can't blame anyone under your criteria, so how about just not blaming anyone? Or better yet, blame yourself for not going out there and educating these poor people.

    Unfortunately, these poor and uneducated people are poor or uneducated by choice. How often do you see a shanty with a DirecTV dish and a new Silverado out front? They are everywhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, West Virginia and northern Alabama. These people make choices about what is important.

    How many of you remember that nitwit in your classes that never did any work? Maybe he/she compensated by acting like a jerk or by acting pompous. You cannot force people to make different choices just because you know they're better, you can't control everyone's lives. All you can do is give them the opportunity to work for themselves, and when they take that opportunity and lease a new pick-up truck instead of buying healthcare for their family you can't go out an penalize the well-to-do because this asshat has different priorities.

    How many of you have worked a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter? There are plenty of hungry and homeless that have just had a shitty hand of cards and needs a helping hand, but for every one of those there's 15 that are just taking advantage of the system for free stuff. And for each one of those 15 taking advantage of charity, there's another 2 that are choosing to steal not from charities but from the penitentiary by getting free food and a room for a minimal crime, because it's easier than begging for food. For every 1 person that needs help, another 45 are just taking advantage. That one person that truly needs help won't know that they can get free healthcare from the government if it ever passes because they don't have a TV, or live in a rural area where access to healthcare means driving for 2 hours.

    Life expectancy will continually go up, there are biomedical advances daily that are finding our to increase the rate of DNA repair, or preventing oxidative damage. Nutritional sciences is finding the foods that are best for us. My children's children might be able to see a Preventive care physician on a regular basis and not ever have to die from old age, we have the ability to make that kind of incremental advance. National life expectancy is a social issue, and every socialist that has tried has discovered that society cannot be controlled. All we can do is give people the opportunities and incentives to live in a manner that is best for everyone as a sum. Quit trying to micromanage, the complexity of such a system will only ensure its collapse.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:26PM (#29137273)

    Pff, the article sucks ass, but it's the 21st century, can we please dispose of this protestant ethic bullshit of "bad things happened because you're a bad person"? Sure, there's quite a few people out there who've made bad choices, but it's a recession, and I'm tired of hearing people claim that 10% of us don't have jobs (and another 7% are flipping burgers despite their education) because we're stupid, incompetent, or otherwise undeserving of your awesome god's holy blessing. I'm sure every last employee of Enron was a complete retard, and that's why they couldn't hold onto their jobs.

    Personal responsibility is for more than just the little people. Executives who destroy their company and the economy should be held responsible as well.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:26PM (#29137275) Homepage Journal

    " the portion they're talking about is between Beaumont and Texarkana, right on the border"

    Which makes me wonder if this was a study of US Citizens or merely US Residents?

    It might be hard to eliminate the illegal population from those areas, without finishing the job that the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo stopped [wikipedia.org] and annex all of Mexico.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:28PM (#29137303) Homepage Journal
    "Note that the places where expectancy is low in the US is where there's the least chance of those poor folks having insurance? How is it a suprise that without health care you don't live as long?"

    It isn't JUST a health care availability issue. In the US, it is largely a cultural thing too, IMHO. According to the article, it notes it is lower in the southern US. I live in New Orleans, and I can attest to how it is different down here. Food, drink and fun are such an integral part of life down here. We like our food fried, butter is your friend, etc. And down in the south, drinking is much more a part of life. I never saw people get so hot under the collar when you mentioned you got a little bombed the other night and had to be careful driving home....until I started talking to people from up north. Down here, not as much a stigma.

    Heck, we still have drive through daiquiri shops down here, and bars give you a 'to go' cup to take your drink with you when you leave.

    We still smoke a lot too in the south...especially in NOLA.

    But, back to the food. Southern food is really good. Many of us down here "live to eat" rather than "eat to live". Obesity is huge down here. I've been changing my life around, cutting back on booze, and trying to eat better and exercise regularly, and it is still hard. You know they old saying "never trust a skinny chef"? Well, damned near everyone down here I know is at the least a great home chef...we love to cook and eat. Families still get together over food quite a bit down here...nothing like a big crawfish boil to get a group of friends to hang out, be good company and have some drinks.

    Sure, we do have a large number of poor in the area...but, medicaid covers most of the truly poor, poor, poor people. The people in the projects are covered...I've seen that in practice.

    And also, especially in this area...(from here to Houston really IMHO), it is known as Cancer Alley [wikipedia.org] . I know the wiki says it is anecdotal, but, I've seen studies and reports on the news from the past telling that it is prevelant down here due to the large number of oil/chemical processing down here. We also are exposed to everything in the MS river, that comes from the rest of the country.

    But you know...I've come to the conclusion, that there is Quality of life, vs Quantity of life. You have to strike a balance. I'd hate to life a boring, bland life that was long, than one that was a bit shorter but full of adventure, food, fun and friends. So far...I've been blessed with the latter.

    I personally love living in the south, and especially New Orleans. The people are so much nicer, and you still see people being polite to each other. Quality of life vs Quantity of life.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:30PM (#29137363)

    "My understanding is that in England, most of the time if you are born in the "working class", your children will die as part of the "working class". If you look at U.S. statistics, you discover that most of the people in the bottom quarter of wealth in the population ten years ago, aren't in the bottom quarter today."

    Might be true, might be false, I don't know. But I'd like to hear your references. Also - you should match like with like. You suggest people in England born poor die poor, but people in USA (of undeclared age, you're not suggesting new born) ten years later are more wealthy. This is not matching like with like. Give me equivalent statistics for both places and I'd be interested to hear more. You might expect somebody aged 20 to move up the wealth scale in both countries by the time they reach the age of 30. It's a different argument to suggest that somebody born into a socio-economic group in England is more likely to die in that group than in the USA.

    Interested to read your arguments once referenced though, they are certainly an interesting theories.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:34PM (#29137443)

    > The real question is what happens to the children of these "nitwits"?

    Very good question. To start trying to answer it we can begin with the sad list of things we have already tried and know don't work.

    1. Progressivism in general. Redistribution of wealth, class envy, the workers seizing the means of production, all that rot.

    2. Government schools. We already throw away more money per student than most countries and we piss away a lot on the worst schools. See our nation's capital, Washington D.C. for a vivid example.

    3. The welfare state, Progressivism's compromise between full blown socialism and the old Classical Liberalism they are seeking always to supplant. Bring up a kid watching mom walk to the mailbox on the first of the month and you can forget em seeing the value of getting an education and a job.

    The problem isn't one of money. And it isn't a lack of government. Add up the Sagan's of cash we have taxed and spent away in the War on Poverty and the answer is clear, that money in the private sector would have lifted a lot more people up by a general increase in GDP than the multigenerational poverty the Great Society bought us.

    We have a long history of people showing up on our border with the cloths on their backs, living poor but boosting their children into the middle class and and few of their children making it to the upper ranks. Katrina flushed out tens of thousands of forth and fifth generation wards of the state. There is your problem. The problem is a moral and philosophical one, not an economic one.

  • Get the Facts Folks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gpronger (1142181) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:34PM (#29137445) Journal
    It seems that we're interested in making some political points and (or) walking lock-step with some biases.

    If you check the data from the PLoS Med citation (http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/slideshow.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050066&imageURI=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050066.g003#) you'll discover that finishing high school would appear to be a detriment to longevity (my personal guess is that a fair number of more educated folks cash in earlier due to stress).

    When you talk poor and rural, there appears to be two, one in the south and one in the northern Midwest. It's true that the rural south has seen a decline, but looking at the "WebMed" citation (http://www.webmd.com/news/20060913/top-states-for-life-expectancy), unless you've got the technology to convert your genetics to become a non-Pacific island Asian (defined as America 1), you're next best bet is to join "America 2" defined as; "3.6 million low-income rural whites living in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska with income and education below the national average. Average life expectancy: 79 years."

    My personal read with "America 2" is simply (again) a more "kicked-back" (less stress) lifestyle. In wandering the U.P. (home of the "Uppers", namely the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) if there is a common trait among the folk, is that they're simply taking it easier than most folks in urban settings. They're "in-to" out of doors (less sedentary) and if you want to get one's attention, its not by the latest fashion, but where there's a better hunting / fishing / biking / beer joint (meet a Upper and you'll understand the last item). Cars are rusty but the barrels are clean and the reels oiled.

    I've added a fair amount of personal opinion, which is clearly open to argument (and I hope that any Uppers reading this do not take offense that I secretly...or at least used to secretly...covet their lifestyle) but none-the-less, if you're about to write spout off on the subject, at least read the citations.

    In a nutshell, we tend to be fat and lazy, which doesn't take a high school education to figure out, and we're also way too stressed.

    Greg
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:43PM (#29137629)

    Just FYI: vitamins A, D, E and K aren't water soluble, so eating vegetables with fatty food helps your body absorb these vitamins.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rising Ape (1620461) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:14PM (#29138201)

    And the relevance of that is? The most amazing care in the world is of no consequence if you can't afford it. I can't see how a system optimized for the super-rich can be considered the best for a society as a whole. A better measure would be where someone on an average income would be best served, or someone with no income.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:53PM (#29138923)
    Does sunlight require that I walk upstairs from the basement?
  • Re:USA vs Europe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by careysub (976506) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:00PM (#29139043)

    I guess it is based on bullshit data. For instance, Switzerland has a much higher life expentancy, see here [admin.ch]. 80 years for men, 84 for women.

    adjusted for the effects of premature death resulting from non-health-related fatal injuries

    Why this adjustment ? Oh, to make data fit to your conclusion ? You live in a violent country [washingtonpost.com], deal with it.

    Close - it is bullshit analysis. What they did was fit a curve to the OECD data set for injury and per capita income, then using the U.S. per capita income and the assumption that it is a normal OECD country they calculate its "adjusted" life expectancy. They are thus crediting the U.S. with both a typical OECD injury death rate and a typical OECD relationship for GDP to life expectancy, when in fact it is much lower.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:07PM (#29139183)

    > Of course, the problem is that the ailing schools need money fix their problems.

    No they don't. Two choices really.

    1. End the unions and tenure in K12 education. Tenure is a means of protecting freedom of thought in the academy, to allow intellectuals to study, teach and write in an environment free from undue influence. That is a good idea for a university but a lousy one for a K12 environment. A K12 teacher has a very different task than a university professor. A K12 teacher isn't supposed to be creating knowledge, they are supposed to be teaching the basics and hopefully getting some of the kids to think a bit. But they are supposed to be instilling a standardized curriculum, not pushing their own agenda in the classroom, the kids should get to wait for college for that. All tenure (and the education unions) do is make it impossible to get rid of teachers who burn out. Once it is actually possible to clean out the deadwood, get control as close to the local parents as possible by clearing out as much of the state and federal crapola as possible.

    2. Or just do the right thing and end the government monopoly on schools. If education of the young is seen as a imperative (moral or policy) for the State then hand out vouchers. And just like the 'public option' being discussed currently in health care, if the State schools were forced to compete on a level field they would quickly die out. So make sure it IS a level field by ensuring the public schools received only the funding in the vouchers or tuitions from parents, exactly like the private schools would be funded with.

    > Not in a "dump cash in them until they're better" way, but in a "we're not going to be able to
    > attract good teachers and bring facilities up to par without spending some money.

    I really don't understand this mindset. We have been doing exactly this 'dumping' of good money after bad for several generations now and expecting a different result from past performance each time. Insanity! Unless and until you change the basic assumptions built into the failed government education system it is irrational to expect a different result from yet another cash infusion. Yet if we DID fix the defects in the system improvement would be possible with the current funding.

    > The even bigger problem is that we don't have a way to judge success in a reliable manner.
    > Standardized tests are the worst method,

    You state that like it were a uncontroversial fact. It isn't. A standardized test is a lousy way to judge writing ability, creativity, etc. It is a wonderful way to judge most of what a child needs to learn in the earlier grades. Set them a hundred random arithmetic problems of the sort they should be able to solve and if one child answers 80% of them that student is almost certainly doing better than one who only answered 50%. And neither is ready to advance. Same for basic reading comprehension, spelling, etc.

    If you object to standardized testing you must be prepared to propose something better. Keep in mind that in the real world (and the same effect will taint any proposal you advance for K12) standardized testing is almost universal. They have proven themselves as the best defense against the EEOC and the trial lawyers.

  • Re:wow only 77 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:12PM (#29139273)

    Well, not exactly. You'd get a clearer picture if you broke the US population down by demographics.

    The US has more immigration, for one thing, and a greater disparity between rich and poor. Our drug problems seem to be worse. Mexicans use our Emergency Rooms for free and then go back to their country so they don't have to pay, but we're stuck with the bill. Or some stay here. Mexican immigrants have lower life expectancy.

    Stillborne births are counted differently in some European countries, with a baby sucking one breath in the US being counted as living for one day, while the same baby in some European countries (don't know about the UK) would be called a stillbirth and ignored by the statistics. (Accounting for this still just brings the US up only into the top 15 or so countries in ranking, but it is a factor.)

    The high end care in the US is some of the best in the world, and people come here from Europe for cancer treatment. Also, the fact that the US doesn't have price controls and Europe does means that the American market is the primary engine funding drug development. Europe is basically a free rider. If America enacted price controls on drugs (and why shouldn't we, to be economically competitive with the rest of the world) then Europe would see the drugs its cost-controlled medical system had access to dwindle.

    Incidentally, the rate of organ transplants in the US is much higher than in Europe.

    Also, frankly, the average American diet is awful. To give just one example; we don't test cattle for BSE (Mad Cow) because "it's never been found on this continent" though the lack of testing would make it impossible to find it so it's kindof a circular argument. US cows are slaughtered younger, so symptoms wouldn't appear in infected animals. Also, wild deer have been found with a BSE like prion, indicating that it is, in fact, on this continent. (Avoid US beef like the plague that it is.)

    And hydrogenated oils should have been, by the FDAs own standards, approved only as an additive rather than a foodstuff.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by radtea (464814) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:25PM (#29139467)

    But every shill is an idiot, so the "but I repeat myself" follows. I was paraphrasing the famous American humourist, Mark Twain, who once said, "Are you a member of Congress? Are you an idiot? But I repeat myself..."

    The best comparator for the US with regard to life expectancy is Canada, because while we have many similarities, we (Canadians) live several years longer than you (Americans.)

    The two biggest differences between the countries are that our income distribution is significantly flatter than yours, and our health care system is universal and paid for via taxation (there is a nominal fee structure in some provinces, but it is equivalent to taxation.)

    There are other differences: we have greater ethnic diversity than you--our Native American population alone is 4%. One in three Canadians is an immigrant. We have to deal with two official languages as well as a number of important minority languages: Hindi on the West Coast, Cree on the prairies, etc. We have a much more thinly spread population, so delivery of care and having enough people in one place to pay for big-ticket items is quite a bit harder for us than for you, with your larger, richer, denser population.

    Those things are going to make it harder to deliver quality health care to Canadians, making our much longer lifespans quite remarkable. We also have a relatively large fraction of our male population working in mining, fishing, logging and farming, all of which kill people at much higher rates than other occupations (which is why they are done by men, because men dying has always been ok in all societies everywhere.)

    How much of our longer lifespan is due to our flatter income distribution and how much is due to universal health care is not clear, but I think between them those are the major factors. Our flatter income distribution is achieved through more strongly progressive taxation at the top, and more robust income support at the bottom, which gives people at the bottom more latitude to make mistakes and learn from them productively, and gives people at the top less incentive to climb to the top by stepping on the faces of the oppressed masses.

    Canadian society is also more democratic than American, with much hand-wringing over a recent federal election turnout that wasn't quite as low as the highest American turnouts in the past thirty years.

    We are also politically and economically much more free than Americans, with far less implicit and explicit coercion regarding diversity of political opinions--as witnessed by our healthy minority and regional parties.

    As a sometime small business-person who has friends doing similar work in the States I can say first hand that the burden of regulation/paperwork/bullshit on me is much smaller than in the US. You can incorporate here federally over the Web for $220 and the federal/provincial joint agreement in my province automatically handles provincial incorporation as well.

    So those are some of the factors that MIGHT influence the difference, but you'd have to actually look in detail at the data and see:

    a) who is dying
    b) what are they dying from

    to get a better sense of the actual causes. It's known as empiricism, and I highly recommend it.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cml4524 (1520403) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @06:52PM (#29140585)

    but I'm trying to figure out where people feel they should be privileged to the best medical care in the world without having to pay for it or provide back to society an equal or greater benefit.

    Why do you feel entitled to freedom of speech? There is no such thing, inherently. There is no universal rule that you must be allowed to speak freely. If that right is taken from you and you're silenced, the universe will simply continue on as if nothing happened, save for the immediate differences it makes in your tiny little insignificant piece of this planet.

    Some of us simply believe that in an affluent and supposedly just society we should view the situation as a moral prerogative. If you disagree, that's fine, but, frankly, it's a pretty crummy way to view the people around you. I tend to view human life as a little more valuable than that. Honestly, I've seriously tried to get my wife to leave this country because of people like you, though. What sense is there in living in a "society" that views its citizens with such incredible contempt that you would even think to say something so ridiculously callous and selfish? We might as well just revert to animalistic anarchy and let the strong cull the weak. A situation, I might add, you likely wouldn't survive (nor I).

    I would not ask a stranger to pay for my life. It's just not right. I would gladly accept death.

    I'm going to go ahead and say the odds are pretty well-stacked against that being true. I'm sure there are a very few people like that around, but if I had to bet and you really went to your deathbed, I'd go ahead and lay down a pretty heft sum that you're full of crap with that statement.

    Too many people are in "Me" mode.

    Like the people who value green paper in their wallet over an actual human's life?

  • by benjamindees (441808) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @07:09PM (#29140817) Homepage

    Yeah, right. I'd like to go to the gym more often and lose some weight but I seem to be busy working two jobs to pay for other people's health problems and taxes for a whole bunch of other stupid failures of the craptacular government we have had for the last ten years.

  • Re:wow only 77 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @07:19PM (#29140915) Homepage
  • Re:Slashrush (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ultranova (717540) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @07:28PM (#29140989)

    Let's see: Just shy of 72 years ago, my grandfather arrived in this country with $32 and unable to speak the language. He lived in a ghetto style apartment with a brother who had come over to America from Europe 18 months earlier. He spent a week learning enough English to get a job in a machine shop for about $1 an hour.

    In short, he was just about as low as you can go on the totem pole in America.

    So basically you're saying that a monthly rent of an apartment back then was equivalent to 32 hours of lowest-paid work? Assuming, of course, that your grandfather ate rats in his ghetto-style apartment. Getting a job with no education (you didn't forgot that, did you ?) and unable to speak more than a few words is a nice bonus too.

    40 years later, he died, living in a house he had built and paid for, on 40 acres of land overlooking a river. He had married and had a daughter (my mom). He left a small, but not unsubstantial amount of money behind.

    SNIP

    My parents weren't given anything.

    Try to make up your mind.

    Their parents literally had *NOTHING* on coming to America. Nothing was given to them either.

    They were given a job on ridiculously low qualifications. They were also given almost-free housing.

    It takes one good decision to break the cycle, but you would rather claim that no one can make that decision, and that the "privileged few" are somehow so enlightened and empowered that they should make decisions for the poor.

    No, it takes a good opportunity to break the cycle. Such as, for example, your grandfather landing a job.

    I agree that people shouldn't make decisions for the poor, but providing opportunities - such as free college education - is a good idea.

    The moment I turn to you, pull out a gun and demand that *YOU* pay for the poor people because I feel bad about it (even though I won't spend my own money) then I have crossed the line, just as our government will if it does the same.

    Perhaps. But unfortunately experience shows that if the poor are left to the nonexistent mercy of voluntary charity, the end result is them dying in the streets. This, then, gives me a choice: either I turn on you with a gun and demand that you pay for social security - along with me, of course - or I watch them die. Most people apparently prefer the former choice, and vote politicians who then do the forcible wealth distribution on their behalf.

    You sir, are the problem.

    No, people like you are. You tell the story of your grandfather making it - mostly by luck, it seems - and think that this means that anyone can if they just try hard enough. It's a stupid fantasy, and sadly common with libertarian crowd.

    You, sir, perpetuate the system that condemns these people to the life they are stuck in. You say, "There but for the grace of God..." but do not dare look into the real problem, for fear you might somehow dirty yourself. You are like the people who sleep in a tent one night and claim to understand the Homeless. You point at the poor and say you care, but you do not understand the system that has made them that way.

    Well, not being able to get a job with no education like your grandfather did most likely has something to do with it. Oh, sorry: one man made it 72 years ago, so obviously they just aren't trying hard enough.

    While you decry the "system" that keeps people down, I argue that it is the very government you are clearly implying should step in, that created that system.

    Which is a pretty good argument for having said government change said system, actually.

  • Re:Not entirely (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:15AM (#29144085)

    There really are areas where you can't easily get to a grocery store: they are called "food deserts" by those who work on issues surrounding food supplies in poor urban areas

    A lack of community contributes to this effect. Bulk dried foods will trump everything else on price. A dozen families can combine to order 500lb shipments of beans, rice, and veggies delivered to anywhere in the country at an unbeatable cost. Yeah, it's bland, it's labor intensive, and it requires organization, but claiming that someone has no options beyond $1.50 can of soup vs $1 frozen pizza is overlooking cheaper and healthier alternatives.

    However, there is something to be said for the fact that the type of people who will create and maintain a food co-op like this are not the individuals that are likely to remain in cyclic poverty.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BoberFett (127537) on Friday August 21, 2009 @11:37AM (#29146875)

    So what you're saying is that the GOVERNMENT RUN MEDICAID program wouldn't pay for her treatment, and that the only answer to that is a GOVERNMENT RUN PLAN?

    Sorry about your sister, but think about what you're saying.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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