America’s Deadly Inequality


Posted by Bob Lord

Remember when John Edwards spoke about two Americas?  

In McDowell County, USA Has Close to Haiti's Life Expectancy: Welcome to Third World America, Alex Henderson of Alternet shines a light on those two Americas, and the contrast between them. The bottom line: Inequality in America isn't just immoral, it's deadly. How deadly? Henderson explains:

Those WHO figures for the U.S. take into account the country as a whole, and overall, Americans clearly aren’t living as long as Europeans. But the news becomes even more troubling when one examines a report that the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington released in July 2013. That study broke down life expectancy for men and women in different parts of the U.S., showing a strong correlation between income levels and longevity. The report found that life expectancy is 81.6 for males and 84.5 for females in Fairfax County, Virginia (a very affluent area) and 81.4 for males and 85.0 for females in Marin County, California (another upscale area) compared to only 63.9 for males and 72.9 for females in McDowell County, West Virginia or 66.7 for males and 73.3 for females in Tunica County, Mississippi.

Got that? If you live in the wrong America, it'll cost you 17 years or so of life expectancy. If you live in the McDowell County America, you may as well live in Guatemala. Actually, Guatamalans can expect to live a couple years longer than folks in McDowell County.

Inequality is very much a policy choice we've made. And for many Americans, like the ones in McDowell County, it's been a deadly one.