Life Is Cheap in America. That’s What Makes Us Exceptional.

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  gullivers-island  •  4 weeks ago  •  29 comments

By:   Clive Irving

Life Is Cheap in America. That’s What Makes Us Exceptional.
“Not getting vaccinated (and not wearing a mask) are—much like the freedom to be armed—held to be part of a sacred American birthright, even if exercising it might kill you, or others.”


Between June 2021 and March 2022,  according to the Kaiser Family Foundation , there were 234,000 preventable deaths from COVID-19—representing 60 percent of the deaths since vaccines became available. “Preventable” includes many people who died because they chose not to be vaccinated. Each of these scourges has its own pathology. But what makes them egregious—on top of the numbers—is that together they represent a peculiarly American breakdown of what in other advanced democracies are considered norms of behavior.

If these were the numbers of deaths on a battlefield, witnessed and recorded as such, the total of 349,000 over no more than a year, would rank as horrific. (The total of American military deaths in four years of World War II was 405,399, and that was drawn from a far smaller total population.) Life has become very cheap when it can be snuffed out at this rate without the country really noticing. But death on this scale in America has achieved a steady state—the scientific term describing how “a dynamic equilibrium occurs when two or more reversible processes occur at the same time.”


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The American homeland has never been a modern wartime battlefield. That distinguishes us from all other major participants in two world wars. And yet the homeland is now the scene of   far greater human carnage   on a daily basis than any other rich nation would find tolerable—not just   slaughter by guns , but by the   misuse of drugs   and the   mismanagement of a virus .

If you are looking for a real definition of American exceptionalism, this is it.

Somehow we have become accustomed to living with a deadly trifecta. Just look at the numbers.

In 2020 (the last year for which the   CDC has complete data ) more than 45,000 Americans died from gunfire, a 25 percent increase from 2010.




In 2019,   according to the Department of Health and Human Services , 70,630 people died from a drug overdose, and more than 10 million people “misused” (a euphemism for overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal) opioid prescriptions.

Between June 2021 and March 2022,   according to the Kaiser Family Foundation , there were 234,000 preventable deaths from COVID-19—representing 60 percent of the deaths since vaccines became available. “Preventable” includes many people who died because they chose not to be vaccinated.

Each of these scourges has its own pathology. But what makes them egregious—on top of the numbers—is that together they represent a peculiarly American breakdown of what in other advanced democracies are considered norms of behavior.

If these were the numbers of deaths on a battlefield, witnessed and recorded as such, the total of 349,000 over no more than a year, would rank as horrific. (The total of American military deaths in four years of World War II was 405,399, and that was drawn from a far smaller total population.)

Life has become very cheap when it can be snuffed out at this rate without the country really noticing. But death on this scale in America has achieved a steady state—the scientific term describing how “a dynamic equilibrium occurs when two or more reversible processes occur at the same time.”

Reversible? Think about it. How reversible are these three conditions—deaths from guns, overdose, and COVID?

We’re right in the middle of one of those gun outrages where there is a cascade of cant in Washington, D.C.—yet even one the most ardent advocates for greater gun controls, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, admits he won’t be able to get any significant changes, however appalling the blood-soaked classrooms become. No, this chain of tragedies is not reversible, as long as the coercive power of the gun lobby basically outvotes the people. Does this mean we have, as a society, reached a new and permanent level of indifference to human suffering, that the sheer repetition of mass shootings, whether in schools, churches, synagogues or supermarkets has deadened the senses?

Behind two of the scourges, guns and opioid addiction, are venal corporate interests, but they have fared differently. Nothing holds back the gun manufacturers. Business has never been better. According to the   Annals of Internal Medicine , between January 2019 and April, 2021, 7.5 million American adults became new gun owners—that’s nearly 3 percent of the population.

In contrast, Big Pharma is being forced into paying billions to compensate for the ravages of opioid addiction. This week, in the latest settlement, two companies, Teva and Allergan,   made a settlement of $161.5 million with the state of West Virginia , which has suffered more than most states as a result of the opioid epidemic. Patrick Morrisey, the state’s attorney general, said the money would help to make sure “we don’t lose another generation to senseless death.”

Big Pharma has been very effective at lobbying to keep prescription drugs more expensive than anywhere else in the world, but it hasn’t been able to defend the ruthless promotion and profiteering it applied to opioids.

And here’s the decisive difference between the two forms of death: The gun makers (and their advocates) prosper behind the claim that the agency of the weapon resides in the gun owner, not them, while the drug manufacturers had no such defense—they delivered the bullet themselves, knowing that it was addictive and fatal if prescribed unscrupulously. Also, of course, the right to use opioids is not enshrined in any constitutional amendment.

It's hard to say how many of the preventable COVID deaths were directly attributable to vaccine resistance. Some were the result of racial inequities in the availability of health care and reliable information, compounded by misinformation spread on social media.

Looking for a corporate hand behind the anti-COVID vaccine movement comes down to one company, Fox News. Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham both cynically encouraged fake stories about vaccines killing people and played up doubts about whether they even worked. This followed the way in which Fox News slavishly echoed Trump’s mocking of science and his dismissal of COVID as nothing more than flu, and gave air time to quackery.

But they were, in large part, preaching to the converted. Anti-vaxxers are equally influenced by something that the citizens of other liberal democracies find puzzling: a resistance to voluntary conformity dressed up as an assertion of basic individual rights. Not getting vaccinated (and not wearing a mask) are—much like the freedom to be armed—held to be part of a sacred American birthright, even if exercising it might kill you, or others.

When it comes to the actual defense of life as a political movement, it is ironic that in America it has come to apply more to the unborn than the living. The “right to life” movement is now anticipating its moment of victory, thanks to an aggressively atavistic Supreme Court. And, in the same spirit, the court is as ready to back the gun lobby as it is to kill   Roe v. Wade . Don’t look for the milk of human kindness there.

In wars, the dead are commemorated as a way of deterring future wars. War graves concentrate the carnage in a powerful visual frame that everybody responds to. I have visited the cemeteries that lie behind the D-Day beaches in Normandy and beyond. Their scale imposes on us the obligation of remembrance, to never forget the sacrifice made by thousands of Americans in the cause of liberating Europe.

America itself has now become like a war zone, but the graves are widely dispersed, not concentrated. From Columbine in Colorado to Sandy Hook in Connecticut, from Parkland in Florida to Uvalde in Texas, the children and teenagers taken out in mass shootings are or will be buried where their families choose—in moments of a terrible individual grief that is not being translated into an act of national remembrance powerful enough to force an end to this avoidable slaughter.

As a result, America can no longer go out into the world as an exemplar of advanced and civilized societies, talking about its exceptionalism, when it has on its own hands the blood from such a breakdown of basic human values.


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Gulliver
Freshman Guide
1  seeder  Gulliver    4 weeks ago

We are not very good at having nice things in America, but we are really good at having terrible things. 

In fact, we're number one!

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
1.1  afrayedknot  replied to  Gulliver @1    4 weeks ago

“…we are really good at having terrible things.”

…while the apologists will argue the semantics, cite the anecdotal, and long for the past…

We could be so much more if we could just get out of our own way…and that is the saddest thing  of all. 

 
 
 
Gulliver
Freshman Guide
1.1.1  seeder  Gulliver  replied to  afrayedknot @1.1    4 weeks ago
We could be so much more if we could just get out of our own way…and that is the saddest thing  of all. 

It's hard to remember the last time we found common ground on a domestic policy in this nation. Maybe some of the Covid relief and Biden's early infrastructure bill?

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
1.2  squiggy  replied to  Gulliver @1    4 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2  Drinker of the Wry    4 weeks ago
Looking for a corporate hand behind the anti-COVID vaccine movement comes down to one company, Fox

As of 15 Feb 22:

  • Hispanic people represent a larger share of cases relative to their share of the total population (24% vs. 18%), 
  • Black people make up a similar share of cases relative to their share of the population (13%), but account for a slightly higher share of deaths compared to their population share (14% vs. 13%). 

Who knew that Fox attracted so many people of color.

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
2.1  afrayedknot  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2    4 weeks ago

“Who knew that Fox attracted so many people of color.”

Plenty of diversity…pasty white, snowflake white, browned nosed, farmer tanned, and full blown red neck. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  afrayedknot @2.1    4 weeks ago
farmer tanned, and full blown red neck.

What do you call Black, Southern farmers?  

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
2.1.2  afrayedknot  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.1    4 weeks ago

Citizens. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.3  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  afrayedknot @2.1.2    4 weeks ago

So you constrain your use of labels just for whites. 

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
2.1.4  afrayedknot  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.3    4 weeks ago

We’re so underrepresented when it comes to labeling…just a feral voice in the wilderness letting our brothers and sisters in arms know we’ll never be replaced. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.5  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  afrayedknot @2.1.4    4 weeks ago
we’ll never be replaced.

Red necks will not replace us!

Red necks will not replace us!

Red necks will not replace us!

 
 
 
Gulliver
Freshman Guide
2.2  seeder  Gulliver  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2    4 weeks ago

Only 62% of Fox viewers are vaccinated compared to 83% for CNN and MSNBC, poll shows

Viewers of Fox News are less likely to get vaccinated than those whose main news sources are other networks, according to a combined sample of two recent polls.

Only 62 per cent of Fox News viewers have received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 83 per cent for those who mainly watch CNN and MSNBC .

The Ipsos poll found that 70 per cent of all adults have received at least one dose, a similar figure to the number produced by the CDC .

This leaves Fox News consumers eight per cent behind the general public. With news consumers whose main source is not Fox News, the figures are the opposite – they are ahead of the public at large.

Among those who watch mostly network news – such as CBS , ABC , and NBC – 79 per cent have received at least one dose. They’re four per cent behind the viewers of CNN and MSNBC, but nine per cent ahead of the general public. CNN and MSNBC viewers are 21 per cent ahead of Fox News viewers in terms of vaccinations.

Around 74 per cent of those whose main news source is public television or radio – such as PBS and NPR – were at least partially vaccinated.

And the rest of us have to live with the consequences of their anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-science, anti-give-a-damn-about-anyone-but-themselves nonsense.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.2.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Gulliver @2.2    4 weeks ago

Looks like this Axios/Ipsos reinforces my point about Fox having so many viewers of color. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.3  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2    4 weeks ago
Who knew that Fox attracted so many people of color.

It has a lot more to do with social-economic standing, and lack of health care than anything to do with Fox. 

AIAN has the highest rate of vaccinations yet also has one of the highest hospitalization and death rates from COVID. 

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
3  Hallux    4 weeks ago

American Exceptionalism married Manifest Destiny and begat the offspring known as the Monroe Doctrine ... a Kraken like creature that devoured the West and the natives it belonged to.

 
 
 
bbl-1
Professor Quiet
3.1  bbl-1  replied to  Hallux @3    4 weeks ago

Am quite confident that the 'facts' you bravely and correctly brought up would be attacked by the right-wing and their GOP supplicants as adhering to the precepts of Critical Race Theory. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
3.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  bbl-1 @3.1    4 weeks ago

Hallux is nothing if not brave.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
3.1.2  Hallux  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1.1    4 weeks ago

I'll go with nothing as I have not been tested for bravery.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
4  Nerm_L    4 weeks ago

The seed article is just another exercise in casting blame to avoid being blamed. 

[deleted]

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
4.1  afrayedknot  replied to  Nerm_L @4    4 weeks ago

removed for context

hah

As opposed to the constitutionally constipated, continually stuck and backed up in their inability to digest anything other than the usual pablum. 

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
4.1.1  Nerm_L  replied to  afrayedknot @4.1    4 weeks ago
As opposed to the constitutionally constipated, continually stuck and backed up in their inability to digest anything other than the usual pablum. 

The Constitution did not cause the problems of guns, opioids, or COVID.  The institutionally illiberal blames the Constitution for not allowing them to force people to do what they want.

Even when the institutionally illiberal are allowed to force people to do what they want, when that doesn't work they still need to blame a scapegoat. [deleted, again]

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
4.1.2  afrayedknot  replied to  Nerm_L @4.1.1    4 weeks ago

…um, lower case constitutionally, metaphorically speaking…a relaxitive if you will. 

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
4.1.3  Hallux  replied to  Nerm_L @4.1.1    4 weeks ago

... and here you are day after day blaming someone else. What institution are you a member of? Incontinent Libertarian?

 
 
 
bbl-1
Professor Quiet
4.1.4  bbl-1  replied to  Hallux @4.1.3    4 weeks ago

Maybe Fidesz?  Orban's political movement.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
4.1.5  Nerm_L  replied to  Hallux @4.1.3    4 weeks ago
... and here you are day after day blaming someone else. What institution are you a member of? Incontinent Libertarian?

I do not have a compulsion to make other participants the topic of discussion.

The left end of the political spectrum has adopted a political ideology that advocates for institutional solutions to every problem.  Institutional authority is, by its nature, illiberal.  Institutional solutions are not achieved through any process of democracy.  Maintaining institutional authority requires granting rights to institutions that supersede the rights of people.

As an example, institutional restrictions on guns requires granting the institution the right to use guns to enforce restrictions on guns.  The institution regulating guns has an inviolate right to bear arms but the people do not have a right to bear arms.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5  Kavika     4 weeks ago

Difficult to be a great nation when we can't protect our children.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
5.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @5    4 weeks ago

life, liberty, and the pursuit of bullet proof cover...

 
 
 
bbl-1
Professor Quiet
6  bbl-1    4 weeks ago

This is simple.  A participant at the NRA event recently attended by Trump and other GOP members alluded that (am paraphrasing) Americans died on the beaches to defend our freedoms.  Freedom is not free.  Children also may have to be sacrificed in order to defend The Second Amendment and 'our' inalienable rights to be armed.

There it is.  There you have it.  What argument could possibly be levied against that 'strain of logic'?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
7  Buzz of the Orient    4 weeks ago

Since absolutely nothing is going to happen to reduce gun violence, I wonder how much it would cost to outfit every schoolkid and teacher with body armour.   

 
 

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