Mortality Socialism: We Should All Live Exactly The Same Number of Years

In today's "The Heck With Equal Opportunity, We Want Equal Outcome" segment, the New York Times on Sunday accidentally introduced a new concept to readers: mortality socialism.

For those unfamiliar -- please count me amongst this woefully ignorant group until a few minutes ago!!! -- the Times feels that something has to be done to make sure that everybody's life expectancies are exactly the same regardless of income, wealth, or lifestyle.

I wonder if that's what Robin Hood had in mind all along.

While you ponder, please extinguish all cigarettes, fasten your seatbelts, and prepare yourself for one of the most inane gripes ever published at a major American newspaper (emphasis added, h/t Moonbattery via NBer Roger the Shrubber):

New government research has found "large and growing" disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the last two decades.

Life expectancy for the nation as a whole has increased, the researchers said, but affluent people have experienced greater gains, and this, in turn, has caused a widening gap. [...]

The gaps have been increasing despite efforts by the federal government to reduce them. One of the top goals of "Healthy People 2010," an official statement of national health objectives issued in 2000, is to "eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population," including higher- and lower-income groups and people of different racial and ethnic background.

Let's reiterate a key point before proceeding: life expectancies have INCREASED for all demographic groups. That's something that should be applauded, right? Isn't that good news?

Apparently not:

In 1980-82, Dr. [Gopal K. Singh, a demographer at the Department of Health and Human Services] said, people in the most affluent group could expect to live 2.8 years longer than people in the most deprived group (75.8 versus 73 years). By 1998-2000, the difference in life expectancy had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 versus 74.7 years), and it continues to grow, he said.

And, this is bad or surprising why? We've seen absolutely astounding advancements in medical technology in the past three decades. Many procedures when they first are developed are not necessarily covered by insurance, and, therefore, initially only benefit those that can afford them.

Yet, as the Times elaborated well into this article, there are other reasons for this disparity in life expectancy:

  • Smoking has declined more rapidly among people with greater education and income.
  • Lower-income people are more likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods, to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior and to eat unhealthy food.

Here are some other reasons cited:

  • Some health economists contend that the disparities between rich and poor inevitably widen as doctors make gains in treating the major causes of death.
  • Robert E. Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said one reason for the growing disparities might be "a very significant gap in health literacy" - what people know about diet, exercise and healthy lifestyles. Middle-class and upper-income people have greater access to the huge amounts of health information on the Internet, Mr. Moffit said.
  • Thomas P. Miller, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed..."People with more education tend to have a longer time horizon," Mr. Miller said. "They are more likely to look at the long-term consequences of their health behavior. They are more assertive in seeking out treatments and more likely to adhere to treatment advice from physicians."
  • A recent study by Ellen R. Meara, a health economist at Harvard Medical School, found that in the 1980s and 1990s, "virtually all gains in life expectancy occurred among highly educated groups."...Trends in smoking explain a large part of the widening gap, she said in an article this month in the journal Health Affairs.
  • Under federal law, officials must publish an annual report tracking health disparities. In the fifth annual report, issued this month, the Bush administration said, "Over all, disparities in quality and access for minority groups and poor populations have not been reduced" since the first report, in 2003...The rate of new AIDS cases is still 10 times as high among blacks as among whites, it said, and the proportion of black children hospitalized for asthma is almost four times the rate for white children.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that heart attack survivors with higher levels of education and income were much more likely to receive cardiac rehabilitation care, which lowers the risk of future heart problems. Likewise, it said, the odds of receiving tests for colon cancer increase with a person's education and income.

Of course, none of this matters if the goal is equal outcome, correct?

In the end, I guess the folks at the Times would be happier if people like me started smoking, began having random acts of unprotected sex with strangers, stopped exercising, began eating junk food, and stopped getting routine physicals.

Now that's the ticket!

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Noel Sheppard's picture