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Life Is Short… and It’s Getting Shorter

By WallStreetDaily.com Life Is Short… and It’s Getting Shorter

The Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics released some sobering data about U.S. health last week. Only time will tell if anybody actually gives a sh*t.


This is not good news. But it should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention.

We eat too much, exercise too little, do more drugs, shoot each other, drive too fast, and lack the wherewithal to cover all the damage wreaked by those behaviors.

And so now we can expect to live shorter lives.

That’s according to a December 8, 2016, report from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2015.

The authors of the study found that life expectancy at birth declined from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.8 years in 2015.

If you’re male, your life will be about two and a half months shorter — 76.5 years in 2014 versus 76.3 in 2015.

The average woman can now expect to grace this mortal coil for 81.2 years — down from 81.3 in 2014 but now 4.9 years longer than the average male.

The age-adjusted death rate was up 1.2% in 2015, rising for non-Hispanic black males (0.9%), non-Hispanic white males (1.0%), and non-Hispanic white females (1.6%). The death rates for non-Hispanic black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females were statistically similar.

As Dina Fine Maron notes for Scientific American, “Preliminary analysis suggests the increase in deaths may have been driven by drug overdoses and an unusually severe flu season in early 2015, which may have exacerbated potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease.”

We eat too much, exercise too little, do more drugs, shoot each other, drive too fast, and lack the wherewithal to cover all the damage wreaked by those behaviors.

Meanwhile, the infant mortality rate (IMR) — widely considered a decent barometer of the health of a population — rose from 582.1 infant deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014 to 589.5 in 2015.

Alas, researchers noted that “this change was not statistically significant.”

Whether it’s just a blip or the year-over-year life expectancy decline represents the start of a new trend is, obviously, an open question.

We’ve seen similar year-over-year changes in the recent past, including 1993, during the height of the AIDS epidemic, and 1980, which was characterized by a particularly virulent flu epidemic.

At the same time, the CDC reported earlier in 2016 that life expectancy for white people declined from 2013 to 2014, driven largely by a 0.1-year decrease for white women.

And a 2013 report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) determined “that people in the U.S. die younger and experience more injury and illness than people in other rich nations, a ‘health disadvantage’ that is seen from birth to age 75, among men and women, rich and poor, and across all races and ethnicities.”

As Laudan Aron, the director of that study, explained for New Scientist:

Our health depends on much more than just medical care. Behaviors such as diet, physical activity and even how fast we drive all have profound effects. So do the environments that expose us to health risks or discourage healthy living, as well as social determinants of health, such as education, income and poverty.

The U.S. fares poorly in almost all of these. In addition to many millions of people lacking health insurance, financial barriers to care and a lack of primary care providers compared with other rich countries, people in the U.S. consume more calories, are more sedentary, abuse more drugs and shoot one another more often. The U.S. also lags behind on many measures of education, has higher child poverty and income inequality, and lower social mobility than most other advanced democracies.

The new CDC study, which is “based on medical information including injury diagnoses and external causes of injury — entered on death certificates filed in 50 states and the District of Columbia” and compiled via the National Vital Statistics System, provides ample evidence.

“Preliminary analysis suggests the increase in deaths may have been driven by drug overdoses and an unusually severe flu season in early 2015, which may have exacerbated potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease.”

As Aron notes: “Not only did overall life expectancy in 2015 decline, but age-adjusted death rates increased for eight of the 10 leading causes of death. These include several chronic ‘lifestyle’ illnesses such as heart disease, lower respiratory diseases and diabetes, as well as intentional (suicide) and unintentional injuries.”

In recent months, we’ve discussed “exponential medicine,” conquering cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; longevity and living forever; and colonizing Mars and the cosmos.

What about the here and now? It doesn’t look so good, especially if you consider these reports from the CDC and the NAS.

We touched on our obesity problem earlier this month, but we must concede that Stephen Hawking’s compelling and pithy solution represents a serious oversimplification of the problem.

Yes, if we eat less and exercise more, we’ll be healthier.

But that overlooks the “social determinants of health, such as education, income and poverty.”

And in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis/Great Recession, many people — across all races and genders — are struggling.

Consider a comprehensive study prepared by nonpartisan Gallup at the request of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness.

Gallup “finds there is no recovery.”

But it’d be great to see what impact a job, an income, and some dignity would have on our overall health.

“The Great Recession may be over,” notes the venerable research outfit, “but America is dangerously running on empty.”

As Bill Black notes for Naked Capitalism, we exist in an absurd Washington Consensus world where “austerity” is the only responsible policy path, adhered by New Democrats and Old Republicans alike, to the exclusion of jobs.

People lost their jobs and then their homes in the aftermath of the recent crisis, but nobody on Wall Street paid a commensurate price for behavior that was at least predatory and arguably criminal.

It’s fair to say Hillary Clinton did suffer an electoral cost for her alignment with the financial elite, as counties that flipped from Obama to Trump showed higher rates of foreclosure.

There are no signs the traditional party of working people in the United States understands the impact of its role in the Washington Consensus, including globalization and financialization, on voting behavior, let alone real, actual living people.

Inequality is a real, actual thing, however, and despite his “populist” campaign-trail rhetoric, President-elect Trump is showing every sign he’ll execute a policy plan similar to what we’ve seen during the past 40 years.

Maybe it’s too soon to wonder, maybe not.

But it’d be great to see what impact a job, an income, and some dignity would have on our overall health.


Get Smart

We’re irrational, and that’s OK:

We like to think of ourselves as special because we can reason and we like to think that this ability expresses the essence of what it is to be human. In many ways, this belief has formed our civilization; throughout history, we have used supposed differences in rationality to justify moral and political distinctions between different races, genders, and species, as well as between “healthy” and “diseased” individuals. Even to this day, people often associate mental disorder with irrationality, and this has very real effects on people living with mental disorders.

But are we really that rational? And is rationality really what distinguishes people who live with mental illness from those who do not? It seems not. After decades of research, there is compelling evidence that we are not as rational as we think we are and that, rather than irrationality being the exception, it is part of who we normally are.

So it seems that we are not really that rational. But there is more.

It is common to believe that rationality is needed for making good decisions. But evidence from psychology and cognitive science indicates that this is not quite right.

Of course, if a person’s contact with reality or decision-making abilities are severely compromised, we can legitimately raise the question of responsibility or of restrictions to autonomy. And of course, some forms of irrationality are more difficult to comprehend than others. Still, given what we currently know, our persistent belief that we are primarily rational could itself be an irrational belief.

That’s Elly Vintiadis, who teaches philosophy at the American College of Greece, in a guest post for Scientific American.

Smart Investing,

David Dittman
Editorial Director, Wall Street Daily

The post Life Is Short… and It’s Getting Shorter appeared first on Wall Street Daily.

 

 

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About Louie Lewis

Louie Lewis
Successful forex trading starts with you first. Then comes the actual strategies and techniques. I have been involved with forex and forex trading for a few years now. It is a wonderful way to build wealth. The learning never stops and I want to help others along their journey into this wonderful market of opportunity.

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