24 March 2017   Leave a comment

Anne Case and Angus Deaton have been pioneers in documenting the health effects of deteriorating economic circumstances.  This issue seems to be intuitive, but is devilishly difficult to document.  Their analysis of the deterioration of the life expectancy of rural white male Americans is quite sobering:

“While midlife mortality continued to fall in other rich countries, and in other racial and ethnic groups in the US, white non-Hispanic mortality rates for those aged 45-54 increased from 1998 through 2013. Mortality declines from the two biggest killers in middle age—cancer and heart disease— were offset by marked increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcohol-related liver mortality in this period. By 2014, rising mortality in midlife, led by these “deaths of despair,” was large enough to offset mortality gains for children and the elderly (Kochanek, Arias, and Bastian 2016), leading to a decline in life expectancy at birth among white non-Hispanics between 2013 and 2014 (Arias 2016), and a decline in overall life expectancy in the US between 2014 and 2015 (Xu et al 2016). Mortality increases for whites in midlife were paralleled by morbidity increases, including deteriorations in self-reported physical and mental health, and rising reports of chronic pain.”

There are serious consequences to ignoring the economic hollowing-out of the American middle class.  Those consequences are not simply the rise of right-wing political sentiments and demand redress.

Just a few days after New Zealand declared its Whanganui river a “living entity”, a court in India has followed suit and declared that the Ganga and Yamuna rivers are also living entities.  The declaration allows human guardians to be appointed to protect the vitality of the rivers and gives those guardians legal status to sue those who degrade the rivers. The decisions marks incredibly important steps in environmental protection as well as a dramatic shift away from the perspective that humans have the right to exploit natural resources without regard for the sustainability of those resources.


It is a serious mistake to think that imperialism fades away once the once-colonized peoples achieve independence.  No where is this more obvious than in the Middle East which continues to be rattled by the territorial lines drawn by the British and French in the middle of World War I.  The secret agreement, known as the Sykes-Picot Treaty, divided up the crumbling Ottoman Empire into French and British Zones without regard for the political, ethnic, and religious identities of the people living within those territories.   To this day, the territorial lines contribute to the conflict that exists in the region as many nations reside within the political control of states they regard as illegitimate.

Second version

Posted March 24, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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