MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

American Pravda: Our Public Health Problems, by Ron Unz – The Unz Review

Posted by M. C. on January 11, 2022

https://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-our-public-health-problems/

Ron Unz

Opioids as the White Death

All of us necessarily focus on different areas, and until quite recently I’d never paid much attention to public health issues, naively assuming that these were in the hands of reasonably competent and reasonably honest government servants, monitored by journalists and academics of similar reliability.

For many of us, myself included, an important crack in that assumption came in 2015, when the pages of the New York Times and our other major newspapers were filled with reports of a shocking new study by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, a married pair of eminent economists, with Deaton’s career having been crowned a few weeks earlier by winning the Nobel Prize in his discipline.

Their remarkable finding was that during the previous 15 years, the health and survival rates of middle-aged white Americans had undergone a precipitous decline, completely breaking with the pattern of non-white American groups or with whites living in other developed nations. Moreover, this sharp fall in physical well-being represented a radical departure from the trends of the previous half-century, being almost unprecedented in modern Western history.

Although their short paper filled merely a half-dozen pages in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it was quickly endorsed by a host of prominent public health experts and other scholars, who emphasized the dramatic nature of the discovery. A couple of Dartmouth professors told the Times “It is difficult to find modern settings with survival losses of this magnitude,” while an expert in mortality trends exclaimed “Wow.” Their striking results were illustrated by numerous simple graphs based upon easily obtained government statistics.

The two authors were both economists, whose normal work was distant from public health issues, and according to their account, they had stumbled into these remarkable results quite accidentally, while exploring a different topic. So the natural question that came to my mind was how such a momentous calamity affecting a large fraction of the American population could have been entirely ignored for so long by all the academics and researchers actually working in public health. Perhaps a short trend of three or four years might have escaped notice, but missing fifteen years of such a deadly national decline?

See the rest here

Be seeing you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: