The connection of the fate of whites to blacks and to immigrants (the even more irrational party of cutting taxes for the .0001% is crazed against immigrants for this reason) is ordinarily a secret in the corporate press and mainstream academia. But Michael Reich’s Racial Inequality: a Political-Economic Analysis (Princeton, 1984) shows strikingly that wherever racial inequality is at its most intense, wages and social services for whites are at their lowest, and the income differential between the top 1% of the population and everyone else is at its greatest.
Hence, the rich (and the corporate press’s) hysteria against the stimulus. Worse yet, as Krugman underlined yesterday (below), following a striking paper of Larry Summers and Antonio Fatas on the “Permanent Effects of Fiscal Consolidations” here, the destruction of economic output and lives resulting from depression – hysteresis – is worse than economists had previously thought; it results in long term unemployment, that is loss or erosion of job-relevant skills for many, and produces through lack of housing construction, persistently higher rents, for example. And hysteresis ironically makes “austerity” measures counterproductive even from the standpoint of lessening budget deficits (the Simpson-Bowles report and other exercises of “Very Serious People” here and in Europe – Paul Ryan’s for instance – are really really stupid)…Seehere. Yet even Krugman does not yet quite articulate this central point about racism as a driving force.
“It is difficult to find modern settings with survival losses of this magnitude,” wrote two Dartmouth economists, Ellen Meara and Jonathan S. Skinner, in a commentary to the Deaton-Case analysis to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Wow,” said Samuel Preston, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on mortality trends and the health of populations, who was not involved in the research. “This is a vivid indication that something is awry in these American households.”
Dr. Deaton had but one parallel. “Only H.I.V./AIDS in contemporary times has done anything like this,” he said.
In contrast, the death rate for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics continued to decline during the same period, as did death rates for younger and older people of all races and ethnic groups.
Middle-aged blacks still have a higher mortality rate than whites — 581 per 100,000, compared with 415 for whites — but the gap is closing, and the rate for middle-aged Hispanics is far lower than for middle-aged whites at 262 per 100,000.
[this graph did not reproduce, but the categories here name the lines for groups other than White Americans]
INCREASING CAUSES OF DEATHS
Dr. Deaton was looking at statistics on suicide and happiness, skeptical about whether states with a high happiness level have a low suicide rate. (They do not, he discovered; in fact, the opposite is true.) Dr. Case was interested in poor health, including chronic pain because she has suffered for 12 years from disabling and untreatable lower back pain.
Dr. Deaton noticed in national data sets that middle-aged whites were committing suicide at an unprecedented rate and that the all-cause mortality in this group was rising. But suicides alone, he and Dr. Case realized, were not enough to push up overall death rates, so they began looking at other causes of death. That led them to the discovery that deaths from drug and alcohol poisoning also increased in this group.
It is not clear why only middle-aged whites had such a rise in their mortality rates. Dr. Meara and Dr. Skinner, in their commentary, considered a variety of explanations — including a pronounced racial difference in the prescription of opioid drugs and their misuse, and a more pessimistic outlook among whites about their financial futures — but say they cannot fully account for the effect.
“We didn’t pick it up,” Dr. Preston said, referring to the increasing mortality rates among middle-aged whites.
Ronald D. Lee, professor of economics, professor of demography and director of the Center on Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California, Berkeley, was among those taken aback by what Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case discovered.