If it had happened to gays, it would have been the AIDS crisis. But since it has happened to white people, ordinary white people, there is no ten-year-long screaming in the media about our lack of compassion for the sick and dying, there is no equivalent of AIDS Awareness Week, no Gay Men’s Health Crisis, no shouting at Presidents by dying gay men, no upper class adoption of poor whites as a mascot group.
Mark Cunningham in the New York Post nails it, and I recommend you go to his story too.
Consider a huge story that vanished almost immediately in early November: Two Princeton economists discovered that deaths are soaring among middle-aged, low-education whites.
The rise in mortality from 1999 to 2014 was 22 percent: Up 134 deaths per 100,000 for whites aged 45 to 54 whose education ended in high school.
To blame: jumps in suicides and in deaths from drug abuse — that is, from alcoholic liver disease plus overdoses of heroin and prescription opiates.
AIDS won headlines for a decade. The Deaton findings basically vanished from the media after a day.
The study is found here: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.full.pdf
The headnote of the study says:
This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife,and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall. This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases inmortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases. Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.
The mortality reversal observed in this period bears a resemblance to the mortality decline slowdown in the United States during the height of the AIDS epidemic, which took the lives of 650,000 Americans (1981 to mid-2015). A combination of behavioral change and drug therapy brought the US AIDS epidemic under control; age-adjusted deaths per 100,000 fell from 10.2 in 1990 to 2.1 in 2013 (12). However, public awareness of the enormity of the AIDS crisis was far greater than for the epidemic described here.
The high and mighty are in consternation that Trump is beating his opponents. The National Post this weekend, of all places, was fulminating against him as an empty vessel, and much worse. They don’t get it, do they?
I saw an interview of Trump back in 1990 with Larry King. In it, a much less loudmouthed Trump explains that he gets along with and is understood by taxi drivers, construction workers and blue collar types much better than the élite, or should I say the Eloi.
Orwell once remarked that it takes all of our imagination and insight to see what is before our eyes. This is another such case.
Charles Murray, of the Bell Curve fame, has much the same to say in his article in the Wall Street Journal.Murray speaks of growing separation between a new American upper class and the rest of the country, in particular the white poor, who increasingly are dropouts from traditional pursuits of work and marriage.
“Then things started to change. For white working-class men in their 30s and 40s—what should be the prime decades for working and raising a family—participation in the labor force dropped from 96% in 1968 to 79% in 2015. Over that same period, the portion of these men who were married dropped from 86% to 52%. (The numbers for nonwhite working-class males show declines as well, though not as steep and not as continuous.)
These are stunning changes, and they are visible across the country. In today’s average white working-class neighborhood, about one out of five men in the prime of life isn’t even looking for work; they are living off girlfriends, siblings or parents, on disability, or else subsisting on off-the-books or criminal income. Almost half aren’t married, with all the collateral social problems that go with large numbers of unattached males.
In these communities, about half the children are born to unmarried women, with all the problems that go with growing up without fathers, especially for boys. Drugs also have become a major problem, in small towns as well as in urban areas.
Consider how these trends have affected life in working-class communities for everyone, including those who are still playing by the old rules. They find themselves working and raising their families in neighborhoods where the old civic culture is gone—neighborhoods that are no longer friendly or pleasant or even safe.
These major changes in American class structure were taking place alongside another sea change: large-scale ideological defection from the principles of liberty and individualism, two of the pillars of the American creed. This came about in large measure because of the civil rights and feminist movements, both of which began as classic invocations of the creed, rightly demanding that America make good on its ideals for blacks and women.
But the success of both movements soon produced policies that directly contradicted the creed. Affirmative action demanded that people be treated as groups. Equality of outcome trumped equality before the law. Group-based policies continued to multiply, with ever more policies embracing ever more groups.
By the beginning of the 1980s, Democratic elites overwhelmingly subscribed to an ideology in open conflict with liberty and individualism as traditionally understood. This consolidated the Democratic Party’s longtime popularity with ethnic minorities, single women and low-income women, but it alienated another key Democratic constituency: the white working class.
The revolt of the white working and non-working classes from the Democrats is ongoing, and has found its champion in Donald Trump, of all people.
You have been warned.