7 min read

What’s the price for one life? The Powers That Be Don’t Care about Costs.

The further away we move from democratic socialism, the quicker we cease to exist. When society doesn't value or invest in care, people die. It really is that simple.
What’s the price for one life? The Powers That Be Don’t Care about Costs.
Photo by Clay Banks / Unsplash

Americans are dying, and our lives are getting shorter. Population in other "rich" developed nation's are seeing longer lifespans. It is evident our healthcare and economy are failing, while our politicians keep talking about some false America where we "lead" the world.

When society doesn't value or invest in care, people die. It really is that simple.

The further away we move from democratic socialism, the quicker we cease to exist. Conservative policies lead to shorter life spans and bigger wealth and wage gaps, and increase gender gaps in life expectancy.

Even "moderate" approaches to funding the government is a death sentence. Investing in kinda, sorta public healthcare backup options isn't saving anyone. Exhibit A: The U.S. lost over 1 million people from the coronavirus outbreak, and the majority of those lives were Black Americans.

The stats for life expectancy in the U.S. are abysmal, and where you live greatly affects the number (years). This interesting (depressing) data viz piece on life expectancy in the states from The Washington Post will give you a feel. Enter your age and state and see your number go up or down.

via GIPHY and the Washington Post

As an enthusiastic data viz designer and researcher, I appreciate this kind journalism and the impact it can have on our understanding of hard to grasp data. The context they provide is a decent summary of the contributing factors that have Americans falling behind dying earlier.

Outside the United States, some experts hope they can chart a new course. Britain, one of America’s closest allies, is seeing a particularly sharp slowdown in life expectancy gains and suffered greatly during the pandemic, led by many of the same trends as in the United States.

Britain has a national health system focused on people, not profits. Bell, the Oxford professor, is spearheading a plan in hopes that Britain and other nations can make up lost ground by combining new diagnostic technologies with lessons from the pandemic in delivering vaccines, screening and other preventive measures expeditiously.

Unfortunately, like most mainstream media's analysis of socioeconomic data that impacts actual American humans, it falls short.

It doesn't stress this point nearly enough in my opinion: This "number" isn't just a random data point. The estimated digits are actual years (moments, experiences, milestones) added or taken away from one human lifetime, yours.

Plus, they conclude the article with the most reductive, uncaring, capitalistic posit ever.

“The problem in America in this world of prevention of disease is: Who is going to pay for it?”

I’d expect nothing less from the WAPO, owned by Jeff Bezos, to worry more about rich people parting with their nesteggs than us parting from this earth before our time.

“Sure, we could fix (waves hands) most of this with Nationalized Healthcare. Of course we could actually help people live longer and healthier lives, but first, while more people die, let's chat. 'Who's footing the bill?'”

"Who is going to pay for it?" really means, "We're not paying anyone but ourselves." This ridiculous math prioritizes the equity of the 1% and their investments in the Fortune 100, over the 99% and our insurance access for insulin and inhalers.

Meanwhile, they have no problem paying tens of millions to CEOs or the chairman of the board. Giant CEO payouts have to come from somewhere, and we know businesses cut corners elsewhere. The results of these corporate policies and prioritizing profit margins are clear. Safety hazards, wealth gaps grow, toxic work environments, literal toxic waste, unhealthy hours, and the gig economy. Citizens foot that bill.

From mass layoffs, to outsourcing the workforce, they literally do anything they can so they don't have to pay for healthcare. When a company values C-Suite payouts more than the lives of their consumers, we literally die as a result.

Of course, money is their only mission. Boeing doesn't care if the company flops or planes fall from the sky, and why would they? The person in charge doesn't care as long as he's flying out with a golden parachute. Thieves. All of them, and they're not just stealing $50 Trillion dollars via wage theft, or price gouging gas, or predatory lending. The math is deadly.

Like most corners Jeff Bezos cuts, asking the cost of healthcare is bad math, inequitable to its core. Equity is a choice. The Powers That Be made a choice to take our lives or their inexplicably large bonuses and take-home pay; they chose poorly. No shock there. They are takers, not givers, afterall.

Bezos doesn't care, and neither does his board. The damage Bezos' empire has done to our planet, and to our bodies, is hard to quantify. They made employees pee in bottles vs. take break to fill pandemic orders. They even made sure ALL of this important news about OUR LIVES is behind a paywall.

They care about how cheap they can make everything while charging us more, even if the fee is shortening our fucking lives. This is why I am skeptical of Amazon's entrance into the healthcare industry, and why I am wary of the WAPO in general. They don't value our lives.

Of course the sad truth is, WE are already paying for it, dearly. With our lives.

Americans pay and pay and pay. Our abysmal maternal mortality rates. Our mass disabling events. Our asthma from pollution. Our chronic stress causing 4 out of 10 Americans to have 2 or more chronic diseases. Our suicide rates. Our mental health crises. Our gun deaths. Our bodies and our premiums.

Every single piece of evidence shows that funding centralized public health, and investing in prevention, wellness, and increasing access HELPS the economy, lowers insurance premiums, makes medications more affordable, saves lives, and actually increases life expectancy AND their precious GDP.

There’s only one explanation for this and the Post didn't say it plainly; allow me. White supremacy and patriarchy are why The Powers That Be prevent the passing on national healthcare, and forgo preventative medicine. They don’t want us having it. It’s that simple. Outsized CEO payouts cause premature death of average Americans, and they're 100% fine with that.

Every single data and evidence based research AND common sense says invest in people’s health and you’ll have healthier people. Healthcare, like ACCESS, is a human right, and the United States track record with human rights is also total trash.

When a society values political power, profits, and control more than people and the planet, our health is bound to tank. It’s not rocket science. It’s racism. Plus sexism and classism. It's capitalism at its finest.

Wherever one invests, that is where one sees benefits. It's that simple. Congress values campaign funds and their congressional seat more than their constituents. Corporations value their stock price more than anything. The story of America's health is in the data: Garbage in, garbage out.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, this lack of centralization became a painfully obvious failing of the U.S. health-care system, especially compared with highly centralized systems such as those in Taiwan, which was able to contain the outbreak to a far larger extent and saw a much lower number of deaths per capita than the United States.
“America not only had a population with chronic illnesses that made it susceptible to covid-19, but a patchwork health-care system that struggled with the coordination needed to prevent its spread.

Millions of lives cut short, because rich people are hoarders. For🦊 sake, don't we deserve better?!

"Healthcare" in the U.S. is a misnomer, like the CDC. It doesn’t make us healthy, and it’s not centered around caring. Public Health is overly complicated; no one even knows what it is. Accessing support is increasingly difficult, from mental health providers to skilled nurses to pharmaceuticals because of "shortages." Meanwhile, my goddamn patience is running short.

The U.S. has a polycrises. Rising police violence, gun violence, domestic violence, mass shootings, vaccine deniers, a care crisis, a drug pricing crisis, a supply chain crisis, an opioid crisis, an ongoing pandemic, and an all out attack on body autonomy. There is an all out war on trans healthcare and reproductive healthcare. We are one election away from a national abortion ban.

It shouldn’t be a shock we’re all dying as a result of this broken AF system. Read the aforementioned list of crises.

America's system of "care" puts money over supporting moms and stock prices over safer schools. What’s shocking is we're told we have to live with it.

We just want to live! And to be healthy and free from violence and exploitation. We don’t want to have our zip codes or race or gender dictate how long we live, or how many years we lose from an already infinitesimal blip on this planet.

Yet we're told, as laid out in the Posts' "DYING EARLY — AMERICA’S LIFE EXPECTANCY CRISIS", "we" have a difficult choice in front of us.

“Could the United States get back on track? It certainly has the resources to do so. Many other countries, including high-risers such as Portugal and Taiwan, have achieved vast improvements in life expectancy during the past 40 years while the United States stagnated. Both countries did so, in part, by creating national health services, but they also did so with significant economic growth and transitions to democracy.”

The choice is easy. Investing in our lives requires a transition to an actual democracy, one not controlled by corporations, religious think tanks, and Super PACs. The United States doesn't need an advent of "significant economic growth" to make public healthcare viable. The wealth already exists to fund it all.

If our country was truly invested in everyone's inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" we would invest accordingly, via a redistribution of wealth, reparations, and nationalized health and human services. Period.

The real question we need to ask: How much does freedom cost and what are we all willing to pay for it? It’s that simple.