We're All Being Poisoned by Deregulated CapitalismBy Thom Hartmann, Campaign for America's Future
There’s an undeclared war going on between the rich and the poor right here in the United States and the rich think they’ve found a way to win it.
They’ve locked themselves into gated communities, lily-white suburbs, and wealthy urban neighborhoods and they’ve priced the poor out.
Happy and blissful in their one percent paradise, the richest Americans think they can ignore how their policies have decimated the poor and the working-class. Think they can live in a “me” society, and ignore the larger “we society.”
But they’re wrong and here’s why.
It’s pretty much common knowledge in the United States that poverty and health are inseparable. All the major indicators of physical health – diabetes, heart-disease, and even access to nutritious foods – are connected to socioeconomic status.
Just take a look at any map of obesity in the United States. The poorest states like Mississippi and Arkansas are also the most obese. You can see why when you compare those maps with one of American food deserts, which are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as places where at least 500 people live more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store. Those same impoverished and overweight states are also home to the most barren regions for people who want fresh food instead of the stuff they sell at a 7-Eleven or McDonald’s.
And things aren’t getting better for the poorest Americans. Today, 32 years of Reaganomics have brought us record levels of inequality and poverty. While most developed nations in the world have poverty rates below 10 percent,the official poverty rate here in the United States hovers around 15 percent according to the most recent Census data, an all-time high. This means that about 46 million people struggle to make ends meet in the richest country in the world. To make matters worse, income inequality has gotten worse in nearly every state in our country over the past three decades since Reagan became President. As reported on by the Huffington Post, “Incomes for the bottom fifth of Americans, for instance, grew about 20 percent between 1979 and 2007… [while] members of the top 1 percent saw their incomes grow by 275 percent.”
The rich getting richer and the working people and the poor getting poorer is destroying the health of the American people.
Given these facts, the one-percent thinks it has it made.
But it doesn’t.
While rich Republicans demand fewer regulations and think because they live in gated communities and send their housekeepers to shop at Whole Foods that they’re immune from industrial pollution, they’re wrong. Earlier this month, scientists at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom explained the relationship between socioeconomic status and toxicant chemicals in American adults.
And what they found was surprising. As expected, the bodies of Americans from poorer backgrounds were filled with chemicals that were almost non-existent in the bodies of rich Americans. Jessica Tyrell, one of the authors of the University of Exeter study, explained the findings in an article for Science World Report:
“Lower socioeconomic status was associated with higher levels of serum and urinary lead and cadmium, antimony, bisphenol A and three phthalates (substances mainly used in plastics)”A build-up of cadium, she explained, is an especially important chemical indicator of poverty because it’s associated with cigarette-smoking and poor diet, behaviors that are more common among poorer Americans.
But as the University of Exeter study also shows, Americans higher-up on the socioeconomic ladder also have high amounts of toxic chemicals in their bodies. They’re different toxins, but toxins all the same. According to the researchers, rich Americans have higher levels of toxins like mercury. Mercury causes birth defects and neurological damage and comes from eating seafood. And surprise, surprise: that mercury originates in the coal fire power plants on which wealthy conservatives want fewer regulations.
The bottom line here is that toxins hurt everyone, rich or poor. While poorer Americans may be at a higher risk of dying from cadmium – caused heart disease, rich Americans have to worry about the salmon they have for Sunday dinner.
The gig is up. The unregulated, earth-destroying capitalism that keeps the one-percent on top is killing everyone, whether they live on the Upper East Side or in the Mississippi Delta. The fact is that we’re all – rich and poor – being poisoned by deregulated capitalism.
[ Post Script from a socialist: Whilst the essence of Thom Hartmann's article exposes some truths about capitalism and the facts are undeniable, one very loud bell ringing in ears all around me is that it is not unregulated capitalism that is the problem, but simply capitalism the system for all the reasons revealed consistently here at SOYMB.]