A new study from researchers at Harvard, Syracuse University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Washington, et al., has concluded that conservative policy is hazardous to our health.
We didn’t really need an academic study to know that living in a red state is dangerous. Ever since Brother Schlub’s Traveling Salivation Show (aka Donald Trump’s 2020 superspreader tour) scattered freedom phlegm throughout the nation’s Republican redoubts, it’s been fair to wonder whether MAGA Republicans value their lives much at all.
According to the researchers, “changing all policy domains in all states to a fully liberal orientation might have saved 171,030 lives in 2019, while changing them to a fully conservative orientation might have cost 217,635 lives.”
That’s right: 2019. This study analyzes the year before thousands of Trump’s rabid fans took—and largely failed—the viral COVID-19 Challenge. In other words, cutting services and regulations in order to appease a vanishingly small minority at the very top of the income distribution has, well, consequences.
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[The study] found that “more liberal policies on the environment, gun safety, labour, economic taxes and tobacco taxes in a state were associated with lower mortality in that state”.
The study authors also noted that American life expectancy as a whole is lower than in most high-income countries, “fall[ing] between … Cuba and Albania”.
They wrote: “The rise in working-age mortality rates in the US in recent decades largely reflects stalled declines in cardiovascular disease mortality alongside rising mortality from alcohol-induced causes, suicide and drug poisoning; and it has been especially severe in some US states. Building on recent work, this study examined whether US state policy contexts may be a central explanation.”
To be fair (and accurate), it wasn’t all good news for liberal policymakers. The study also found that more conservative marijuana policies were associated with lower overall mortality. That’s a bummer, but given that at least some previous research found an inverse relation between cannabis use and premature deaths, perhaps this requires more study. Any volunteers?
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The study also observed “especially strong associations” between some conservative policies (though not marijuana restrictions) and specific causes of death. For instance, those associations were found “between the gun safety domain and suicide mortality among men, between the labor domain [things like minimum wage and unemployment insurance] and alcohol-induced mortality, and between both the economic tax and tobacco tax domains and CVD [cardiovascular] mortality.”
Of course, the usual caveats about correlation and causation apply here, but the study does offer a glimpse at what happens when government policies are laser-focused on afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable. If these numbers are anywhere close to accurate, it means tens of thousands of people needlessly die each year because Republicans are more interested in giving tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy than looking after the health and well-being of their constituents (otherwise known as “their victims”).
Regardless, the study’s authors seem pretty convinced that certain policy changes—like maybe *cough, cough* universal health care *cough*—would yield much better health outcomes if they were enacted across the country. (I’d get that cough checked, but you should see my deductible.)
From the study’s introduction:
A growing number of scientists have pushed for greater attention to macro explanations to better understand the factors driving the high, rising, and unequal mortality rates among U.S. adults.
One study found that U.S. life expectancy could increase by nearly four years if the country matched the average level of social policy generosity offered in 17 other high-income countries. More recent research has turned attention to policies and politics at the U.S. state level, given the federalist structure of the U.S. political system and the large size and geographical spread of the population. This new work suggests that changes in state policies and politics may have played a contributory role in producing the troubling U.S. mortality trends ….”
So yes, Ted Cruz is a danger to you and your children, even when he’s not leaving his neighbors behind in the cold or passing through town in his windowless white van. For that matter, “pro-life” Republicans in general are a clear and present danger to life and limb.
Maybe people should stop voting for them, huh?
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We’re deep in the homestretch before the all-important midterm elections, but it’s not too late to Get Out the Vote or rush a donation to a worthy Democratic candidate of your choice. Let’s do this, people!
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