First up, a video from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on the lethal nature of poverty in America:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on aging, held a hearing to discuss the extraordinary disparities in life expectancy that exist between regions of the United States and even neighborhoods within cities.
From his website:
Sanders said that a recurring theme from witnesses was that “poverty in America is in fact very expensive.” He added, “If people don’t have access to health care, if they don’t have access to education, if they don’t have access to jobs and affordable housing then we end up paying not only in terms of human suffering and the shortening of life expectancy but in actual dollars.”
He cited a report by the Institute of Medicine that found Americans have shorter life expectancies than people in 16 other high-income countries. Another study ranked life expectancy in the U.S. 40th for males and 39th for females across 187 countries in 2010. The disparity between the U.S. and other nations occurs despite the fact that Americans spend more on health care than any other country in the world, Sanders noted.
While overall U.S. life expectancy is inching up, the gains are less than in other countries and vary widely depending on income, gender, race and education. Those without a high school degree in the U.S. live shorter lives and experience poorer health than those with higher levels of education.
For women in the United States there is a 12-year gap in life expectancy between wealthy Marin County, Calif., where the average person lives to be 85 years old, and Perry County, Ky., with an average life expectancy of 73 years.
American men live the longest in Fairfax County, Va. Life expectancy for men in the wealthy Washington, D.C. suburbs is 82 years compared to 64 for men in McDowell County, W. Va., just 350 miles away.
Nationwide, the poor have higher rates of many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, and disability, according to Dr. Steven Woolf, director of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The lower people’s income, the earlier they die and the sicker they live,” he said. “Neighborhoods in Boston and Baltimore have a lower life expectancy than Ethiopia and Sudan. Azerbajian has a higher life expectancy than areas of Chicago.”
By way of contrast, consider this gem from Fox & Friends, and that 70’s porn star clone and Ayn Rand groupie John Stossel, via Think Progress:
Fox News warns against giving money to the poor
From Think Progress:
Donning a fake beard, Stossel sat on a New York City sidewalk with a cardboard sign asking people for help. “I just begged for an hour but I did well,” he said. “If I did this for an eight-hour day I would’ve made 90 bucks. Twenty-three thou for a year. Tax-free.”
Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who recently purchased a $4 million home in Greenwich, gasped in horror at the prospect of poor people earning $23,000 a year. Some people asking for money “are actually scammers,” Hasselbeck warned, seemingly unaware of the irony that the only panhandling “scammer” Fox News identified was Stossel.
Because he was able to successfully convince good-hearted pedestrians that he was poor, Stossel went on to chastise people who gave the homeless money because, in his view, “most are not…for real.”
He implored viewers to stop giving money to poor people because if you do, “you’re an enabler.”