We've all read "the diary" (you know the one I mean). I'll bet some of you emailed or tweeted it or posted in on your Facebook page. I'm willing to bet that some of you who did got responses back that claimed that this was only one person, and just anecdotal evidence (so not worth bothering about). Or that this story is probably fake (yeah, I got that one myself). In short, the usual denial regarding the crisis of our jobless economy from certain people who believe that what we have allowed the wealthy and powerful in our country to do to our democracy over the last 30 years is a good thing, and that anything our government does to help people (other than people we help kill and torture in far away lands) is a bad, fascist-socialist-marxist evil that should be eradicated so we can save our freedoms, blah, blah blah.
Unfortunately for those people, the diary in question does not represent an isolated incident. In the NY Times on Sunday, Craig E. Pollack, a "professor of internal medicine at Johns Hopkins" AND Julia F. Lynch, A "professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania" wrote an op-ed that demonstrated desertguy is not alone in his suffering. Far from it.
A growing body of research shows that foreclosure itself harms the health of families and communities. In our 2008 survey of 250 people undergoing foreclosure in the Philadelphia area, 32 percent reported missing doctor’s appointments and 48 percent said they let prescriptions go unfilled, significantly higher rates than others in their community. A paper released last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that people living in high-foreclosure areas in New Jersey, Arizona, California and Florida were significantly more likely than those in less hard-hit neighborhoods to be hospitalized for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure.
More than one-third of homeowners in our study had symptoms of major depression. The N.B.E.R. study found significantly more suicide attempts in high-foreclosure neighborhoods. For every 100 foreclosures, it found a 12 percent increase in anxiety-related emergency-room visits and hospitalizations by adults under 50. Losing a home disrupts social ties to neighbors, schools, jobs and health care providers — ties that under better circumstances promote good health. Neighborhoods suffer, not just homeowners.
This story is not one Kossack's battle with depression and despair, for he is only a symbol of thousands if not millions of people who are suffering from lack of health care, shelter, and the associated problems that accompany them, problems that researchers have established are real. Studies that show disease, depression, suicide and death have increased across the board in America among those who lose their home to foreclosure, are unemployed or both.
I want to personally thank desertguy for having the courage to tell his story, for he is a symbol for millions of Americans just like him. People suffering stress, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, other severe mental and emotional disorders including suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts because of their poor personal financial situation, one that was not of their own making. People are dying to keep the wealthy 1% from having to pay their fair share of taxes or, with respect to the senior executives of Wall Street firms and Biog bank's escape punishment their continued fraud, deceit and other criminal activities. Is that shared sacrifice, my friends?
I highly doubt that all the "recognized" organized criminals (Mafia, Gangs, Hell's Angels, etc.) in America have been responsible for 1% of the deaths for which Big Business and the Executives that run them (i.e., Wall Street, Insurance Companies that deny claims and coverage, Pharmaceutical companies that charge far more than most people can afford for life saving treatments, and the fossil fuel industry and other major polluters that continue make exorbitant profits from polluting the air we breath and the water we drink) have been responsible. How many people died horrible deaths because the tobacco companies were allowed to perpetrate a lie about the safety of their products? How many respiratory diseases and cancers are attributable to dirty air and dirty water and lax regulation? How many people suffer while Wall Street plans its next big scam to steal taxpayer and investor dollars?
And this is not news! Not in 2011. Experts have been describing the deleterious effects on the public health of Americans as a result of our economic crisis and lack of job creation in 2010 ("The unemployed commit suicide at a rate two or three times the national average, researchers estimate") and in 2009. Hell, a 1985 study by the NIH demonstrated the connection between unemployment and poor mental and physical health--during the Reagan Presidency.
The business, media and political elites can't claim ignorance of the consequences of their actions to foster economic policies that have led to this crisis. They knew what the results would be for those not fortunate enough to be counted among the privileged in their new "Ownership Society." Knew and for the most part don't care. Human life is cheap if it isn't their lives in question. Remember how the people at the Republican debate laughed at the plight of people dying because they didn't have health insurance? It was an example of the sheer atavistic, sadistic and misanthropic mindset of so many on the extreme right:
This is why Occupy Wall Street began, with a few people and no money, unlike the "Tea Party" which received millions from conservative funded astro-turf organizations like Freedom Works, and millions more in free publicity by our elite media organizations. This is the result in creating the largest income inequality in our nation;s history, massive unemployment triggered by unregulated Wall Street speculation, millions of illegal foreclosures and millions of Americans who do not have health care insurance. The result is misery, illness, depression and death for everyone who isn't at the top of the wealth pyramid. The only surprise is that it took this long for somebody in this country to take action.
So again, thank-you desertguy. Your diary was vitally important, just as you are, for it reveals why we so desperately needed a grassroots movement such as Occupy Wall Street, and desperately need it to grow and succeed. Life and health and jobs are fundamental human rights, not commodities to be bought and sold by the plutocracy. If we want to insure those rights exist and are firmly established and protected for ourselves and future generations we need to recognize that working solely from within the corrupted American political system, as it currently constituted, is an incomplete and ineffective strategy. We will have to fight for our rights in the streets as well as at the ballot box. If we didn't know that before, these last two years have shown us that much, at least.