SIGNS OF THE TIMES — PART 2: DECLINING LIFE EXPECTANCY

Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Kröller-Müller Museum. Sorrowing old man (“At Eternity’s Gate”) (from here).

Here we have Part 2 in a series of posts. For an explanation of the reason for this series and links to the other posts, please see SIGNS OF THE TIMES — PART 1: AN APPROACHING CRISIS?

What is this post about? Does the declining life expectancy of the American people indicate mounting frustration and brewing anger?

Consider how this report from NPR begins.

One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live.

So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65.

“This is a big deal,” says Philip Morgan, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who was not involved in the new analysis.

“There’s not a better indicator of well-being than life expectancy,” he says. “The fact that it’s leveling off in the U.S. is a striking finding.” (continued here)

Here are a couple of other reports which examine the causes of America’s declining life expectancy (H/T to marmoewp). It seems the decline in life expectancy is due to increasing despair.

  • The Forces Driving Middle-Aged White People’s ‘Deaths Of Despair’

    In 2015, when researchers Anne Case and Angus Deaton discovered that death rates had been rising dramatically since 1999 among middle-aged white Americans, they weren’t sure why people were dying younger, reversing decades of longer life expectancy.

    Now the husband-and-wife economists say they have a better understanding of what’s causing these “deaths of despair” by suicide, drugs and alcohol. (continued here)

  • Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century: What is interesting about this report is that a particular group seems to be dying from despair.

    In “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century,” Princeton Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton follow up on their groundbreaking 2015 paper that revealed a shocking increase in midlife mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans, exploring patterns and contributing factors to the troubling trend.

    Case and Deaton find that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair”—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.

    The combined effect means that mortality rates of whites with no more than a high school degree, which were around 30 percent lower than mortality rates of blacks in 1999, grew to be 30 percent higher than blacks by 2015. (continued here)

The second of these two articles contains this video clip. It is worth taking the time to listen.

Effectively, when people die from despair, they commit suicide.  So here are some articles on why people commit suicide.

There are various theories as to why people kill themselves.  The way researchers Case and Deaton tell it white blue-collar workers are killing themselves because their job prospects are bleak. Then they go on to tell us how important healthcare reform is to blue-collar, middle-aged white people.

But what is the problem? Is it just the smaller size of a paycheck? Is it an economic problem or a spiritual problem?

What do people need? What is our materialistic ideal? It is a respectable job; a substantial home; an attractive spouse; a few healthy, well-behaved children; a couple of new cars in the garage; and so forth.  That’s the so-called American dream for which so many have sacrificed so much.

Were we right to chase the materialistic ideal? What people need most are other people they can love, people who love them. Yet we live in a society where we are increasingly becoming isolated from each other. Whereas Americans once lived in small communities among people they had known all their lives, many of us now have to go to work for social contact. So if blue-collar, middle-age white people are suffering despair, my guess is that they are dying from social isolation and loneliness. We usually don’t form the same kind of relationships with the people at work that we form with family and neighbors, but all our families are scattered across the country, and our neighbors work at different places. On most days, we cannot even find them at home.

So what about that question? Does the declining life expectancy of the American people indicate mounting frustration and brewing anger? There is no easy answer. When people start experiencing enough despair to harm themselves, we can rightly say they are getting desperate. That certainly indicates frustration.

How do people react to unrelenting frustration, to extreme stress? Well, we don’t all react the same way. Some people despair and turn their violence inward. Others get angry. Instead of blaming and destroying themselves, they blame others. Is that happening? All we can say for certain about America’s declining life expectancy is that something is not right.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES — PART 1: AN APPROACHING CRISIS?


What is this series about? Well, let’s first consider some questions.

  • What kind of national crises do we have the capacity to predict?
  • Are there signs of trouble ahead? What signs? What kind of signs should we consider?
  • Are we approaching a crisis?

The word “crisis” is a bit overused. Stick the word crisis in Google, and you will get somewhere in the neighborhood of 447,000,000 hits. So let’s make it clear this series will address an impending crisis that involves lots of people dying.

What kind of crisis? A self-inflicted crisis. Natural disasters can cause greater calamity, but they tend to surprise us because they are largely outside our control. Self inflicted disasters — human conflicts — can be more easily predicted because we cause them. To predict wars between ourselves, we just have to consider the logical consequences of our own actions. To predict human conflict, we just have to take the time to look. Then we can see the signs of how we strive against each other, often quite irrationally. Then we can see why it is rightly said that we are own worst enemies.

What sort of signs should we consider? Well, let’s consider how a supposedly peaceful society becomes roiled in conflict. What happens? Over the years doesn’t every society begin to accumulate customs, regulations, and laws that either don’t serve a purpose or actually hinder members of that society? Unfortunately, when those in power benefit from them, we find it almost impossible to terminate customs, regulations, and laws; no matter how foolish they have become. Therefore, those hindered and even shackled by wrongful customs, regulations, and laws can grow exceedingly frustrated.

Want an example? Think back to slavery and the American Civil War. Slavery is a hideous idea, but slave masters never seem to think so. Prior to the Civil War, slave masters reveled in and self-righteously defended their privilege status. Yet the anger of both slaves and those who sympathized with their plight slowly grew to a boil. When the slaves and those who sympathized with their plight reached the boiling point, and they finally acted, the “crisis” — the American Civil War — officially began. Then a divided nation began to count its dead, maimed, and wounded.

To predict a “crisis”, we do not need to count and classify endless customs, regulations, and laws. To predict a “crisis”, deadly conflict, we need only to put our finger on signs of mounting frustration and brewing anger.

So what would be proper signs of an impending crisis? Please come back to consider the following posts.

  • PART 2: DECLINING LIFE EXPECTANCY
  • PART 3: DECLINING ECONOMIC GROWTH
  • PART 4: FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS
  • PART 5: INCREASINGLY JAMMED TRAFFIC

Finally, let’s look a possible answer. How can “we” solve all these and so many other problems?

  • PART 6: THE “MAGICAL” SOLUTION — WHAT IT IS AND WHY IT WORKS!

 

 

IT IS DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE CHILDREN

Because some people supposedly care so much, our nation spends hundreds of billions every year, and we have changed longstanding traditions.  What if the people who care so much really only care about themselves? What if we have spent trillions of dollars and departed from fundamentally sound traditions for the sake of lies?

Here are examples of how much people supposedly care.

Are these “news” stories about caring people? No. These are stories brought to us by shameless purveyors of garbage values posing as caring people.

Where did I get this list of stories? I got it from this editorial.

Transgendered child abuse

Last year, NBC News did a two-part series dubbed “transgender kids,” that featured “the stories of 5-year-old Jacob Lemay and 8-year-old Malisa Phillips, two children transitioning to live as their authentic selves.”

In December, Good Housekeeping wrote an essay detailing a family with two transgender children, both a son and a daughter, who swapped roles. And while the parents “didn’t totally understand it, they knew their love was unconditional.”

In January, National Geographic put a photo of a nine-year-old transgender girl on its cover, simply labeled “The Gender Revolution,” and The New York Times did a report on “Raising a Transgender Child.”

Then in February, Katie Couric profiled families with transgender children for a documentary, and the Huffington Post wrote a column on how “Transgender kids are changing the world.”

The Washington Post followed it up, with a personal essay: “My 7-year-old daughter Henry is transgender. She’d change Trump’s mind,” lamenting President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind Barack Obama’s bathroom executive order.

And then this month, HBO is ran a special called “Trans Youth” which provided “an inside look at the families of transgender youth and how they are coming to terms with the gender identity of their children,” weeks before the Supreme Court’s decision to send the bathroom case back to the Appeals court. (continued here)

The denizens of the news media make their living by reporting on controversy.  Sometimes, to find something controversial to jabber about, they push the envelope. That sounds brave, but what the news media does is not brave. The talking heads just take some idiotic notion seriously and report on it sympathetically.  They even stage “debates,” giving both the pro and the con sides of a dumb idea equal attention and respect.

What if their dumb idea blows up in their faces.  Well, the “brave” people in the news media don’t take sides.  They are just objective reporters of the “news”. On the other hand, if enough of the public takes the idiotic notion seriously, they are just mainstream or “moderate”.

What has this sort of insanity accomplished? Behavior we would have formerly regarded as foolish, sick, or just unfortunate too many now regard as heroic and worthy of imitation.

Is the news media solely to blame for the degradation of our nation’s values? No. For that we owe much “thanks” to our secularized public education system. Unfortunately, instead of learning about our nation’s religious and political traditions and growing to respect those traditions, too many of our public schools teach our children that God does not matter and that government, not God gives us our rights.

Consider. Think about the way the news media wants us regard two homosexual men holding hands in public. “My oh my! They have come out of the closet! How proud they must be to show their love for each other!” Can you imagine sodomizing someone you love? That is healthy and good behavior? Seriously? Yet the news media wants us to regard two men and adopted children as a normal family.

When we were born, we knew almost nothing.  Boy? Girl? These are concepts and physical realities that slowly matured in us. If we were fortunate, our parents and the other adults around us provided us good role models and guided our behavior. If we were unfortunate, the adults around us confused us.  There is nothing righteous about confusing children, but it happens.

Are there sometimes real biological issues with gender? Yes, but don’t expect anything that deep from the news media. A news story about simply fixing what is physically broken is not spicy enough. No. Talking about feelings is so much easier and fun, and making “other people” — everyone — do what we think they ought to do is such a big ego trip.

FOCUS ON WINNING THE WAR

Obamacare is one of those disasters half of us would just like to go away. The other half either has selfish financial interests or Utopian pipe dreams tied up in such Socialist legislation. Think I am being unfair to the other half? From the beginning we knew Obamacare would not work. Obamacare is economically unsound. So from the beginning we knew what the Democrats wanted was a single payer, government-run healthcare monopoly. Don’t we know how, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, Obamacare would have been fixed? Don’t we already know Obamacare needs to be fixed?

So now we have this stinking albatross around our neck. What is the best way to get rid of it? There is no quick and simple answer.  Budget reconciliation does not clearly provide it.

The reconciliation process, created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93–344, 88 Stat. 297, 2 U.S.C. §§ 601–688), establishes the mechanism by which Congress can move controversial legislation without it being subject to a filibuster in the Senate. But to use the authority, Congress must take certain prescribed steps and avoid potential pitfalls. (continued here)

Pitfalls! So it is that Congress cannot include matters extraneous to budget reconciliation in a budget reconciliation bill.

Specifically, section 313(b)(1) of the Congressional Budget Act defines “extraneous” matters as those that:

  • do not produce a change in outlays or revenues;

  • produce changes in outlays or revenue which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;

  • are outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;

  • increase outlays or decrease revenue if the provision’s title, as a whole, fails to achieve the Senate reporting committee’s reconciliation instructions;

  • increase net outlays or decrease revenue during a fiscal year after the years covered by the reconciliation bill unless the provision’s title, as a whole, remains budget neutral; or

  • contain recommendations regarding the OASDI (social security) trust funds.

(from here)

Thus, when Congress tried to repeal Obamacare in 2015 they ran into problems in the Senate.

In October 2015, the House passed H.R. 3762: Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom, which repealed significant portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including:

  • the Automatic Enrollment Requirement,
  • the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF, also referred to as the “Obamacare slush fund”),
  • both the Individual and Employer Mandates,
  • the Medical Device Tax, and
  • the health insurance “Cadillac Tax,”.

The bill also prohibited federal funds for Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics for one year. Instead, the bill designated an additional $235 million for the Community Health Center Fund.

When the bill reached the Senate in January 2016, the Senate parliamentarian reviewed the House-passed bill to see if provisions of the bill met the extraneous matter requirements of the Byrd Rule.  She determined that repeal of the individual mandate and employer mandate, were extraneous policies, and not primarily budgetary in nature.  As a result, they were dropped from the bill and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amended version of the reconciliation bill that retained the policy of the individual and employer mandates, but eliminated the penalty for non-compliance.

Final passage from the conference committee occurred January 6, 2016 and was vetoed by President Obama two days later. (from here)

So even if the House passes the bill before it, the Senate may weaken it.  Unfortunately, we have little reason to believe the Senate dislikes big government.

So let consider a solution for this problem. Let’s begin by properly defining the problem. How did Obamacare happen? Democrats, politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions, got control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Therefore, to repeal Obamcare, we need control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, we are not quite there. So, the solution is getting there, getting enough Conservative politicians to pass Conservative legislation.

Why do the American people elect politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions? That is both a problem of the heart and the heart of the problem. To the extent we can do something about it, it is an education problem. Before the Democrats created budget-busting boondoggles like Social Security, Medicare, and now Obamacare, they took over the education of our nation’s children. So it is we have public funding of schools starting in kindergarten and ending with the completion of doctoral programs. Inevitably, people educated in socialist institutions by people who make their living off socialist institutions have difficulty seeing what is wrong with Socialism.  Inevitably, when the absence of instruction suggests such things don’t matter, children raised in secularized institutions have a difficult time relating to God and God-given rights. Therefore, if we don’t want everything run by our government, we must privatize our education system.

Are you familiar with school choice? Even if you are, you may find it useful to visit What is School Choice?  This is an article provided by Focus on the Family, which some would call a right-wing Christian organization. Here is how that article begins.

School choice is a nationwide movement that empowers parents by enabling them to make the best possible choice for their children’s education. In short, it puts power in the hands of parents to decide which type of education best fits the needs of their particular child – whether that is a public, private or religious institution, or educating their child at home.

School choice also protects parents’ constitutional rights to direct their children’s upbringing in accordance with the values, principles and religious convictions they hold dear. (continued here)

Think about it. Has the notion of the People running the own lives — educating their own children as they see fit — become as scary to our government as it was to the British Crown in 1776?

So what do we do with President Donald Trump’s and Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill, the American Health Care Act? I suggest we help Trump and Ryan pass the bill.  It is not perfect, but we need to keep our allies strong.  Trump and Ryan need the win, and half a loaf is better than none. At this point, half a loaf is all we can expect.

Why must we keep Trump and Ryan strong? Although we must fight our school choice battles predominantly at the state level, we must keep strong advocates for school choice in charge of the Federal Government. Otherwise, Democrats will win the fight to federalize the education of our nation’s children with programs like Common Core. See the following.

Is Common Core is a commie plot? Who knows?  The point is that the Constitution does not authorize a Federally run educational bureaucracy. Even if the Constitution did authorize Federal spending on education, do we actually need massive numbers of bureaucrats to educate our children? What possible good could they do?