Among the relevant factors contributing to the woes facing the nation now is the dramatic decline in the life expectancy of middle aged white males. Health data on this matter has been clouded by the ways in which data from the Covid-19 pandemic has obscured the situation.
White males in the U.S., in particular, are dying at an accelerating rate, so no wonder they’re freaking out.
Of course, notwithstanding all other factors, the single biggest factor is what is doing more than anything else to screw up American life overall, the fact that the top 1 percent of the population now controls more wealth than the other 99 percent, and the disparity continues to rise.
This monstrous inequality is allowed to eat us up while we debate any and all lesser things, even as this contributes to all those lesser things.
The main fix we need to make is that one. Compared to pre-1980 (Reagan revolution) days, what corporate greed in its many forms is getting away with now in America is downright absurd.
Yes, we are told there are many more Bernie Madoffs out there, flying under radars that are programmed to have a blind eye to them.
On the political side of this, dark money permitted by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, has enabled those eager to perpetuate this system to buy with millions and put into their pockets decision makers at all levels. The corruption among the ranks of public officials is its own pandemic now.
For many readers of this column, such realities are not a surprise, while staying focused on them requires an uncommon concentration of both thought and action that will be obfuscated by almost any ordinary newscast.
The issues of gun killings, drug overdoses, suicides, the impact of wars, fights over gender issues, lack of reproductive rights and resources for mental health, health care, child benefits and a host of elder care needs of a population that is growing older are all predicates defined by our most fundamental inequality, the inequality of wealth as it impacts the common person.
Most recently coming into this mess are two factors that will definitely exacerbate the problem for average Americans whose death rates are already on the rise.
The first is legalized gambling from the comfort of one’s home, and the second is legalized drug use and its impact on poorer, more compromised, households. There is one word that is forbidden to be used in the marketing for both of these things: addiction.
Take gambling. There is a reason the old phrase, “Baby needs a new pair of shoes” (as said by someone shaking and pitching dice) has survived so long for its association with gambling. It paints a sadly vivid picture of a desperate parent feeling compelled to gamble away whatever might be left of resources to pay for its child’s basic needs. The desperation is both for the child’s needs and the parent’s inability to shake an addiction to gambling.
We now live in a society, ruled by those stealing its wealth, in which a premium is placed on propagating a deadly myth of autonomy in matters of individual behavior and identity.
This myth has destroyed our national morality almost beyond recognition, allowing for every excess of self-destructive and antisocial behavior. It is propagated as the ruling class’ way of atomizing any impulse toward collective action among the general population, to undermine anything associated with a true revolt against them.
The myth is propagated through our popular mass culture. Don’t think for a moment that what we are led to watch on TV or in the movies or read in popular books or magazines is not carefully curated by malleable tools of these greed-driven people. They do it by circumscribing choices. It’s why only live theater, for example, or the self-publishing of books has a chance to be free from that subtle censorship, but are carefully monitored to escape narrow ranges of acceptable exposure levels.
This is literally killing America. Masters of our culture must relent and help define a new and refreshed morality modeled on the 1947 United Nations “Declaration of the International Rights of Man (and Woman–ed.).”