Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Guardian's editorial board writes that stagnating and even declining life expectancies and nother indications of declining social health are the result of purely political choices:
In 2010 a government-commissioned review looking at the relationship between health and wealth – only the third officially sanctioned attempt to do so in 30 years – came to the conclusion that life expectancy is linked to social standing and so is the time spent in good health. Lower life expectancies in the UK were not those associated with destitution but rather despair and expectation. Poorer people suffer diseases because of bad diets, a lack of exercise, smoking, poor pay and job insecurity. Its message was twofold. First, government intervention was necessary to ensure that people’s freedoms were not bad for their health. Second, the state had a responsibility to assure people’s material security. Tory health secretaries did no more than pay lip service to such ideas. The result has been rising death rates.
...In terms of length of life, the UK lags behind other developed nations. Young people are now less likely to live longer than their parents. Ministers initially blamed the figures on flu deaths. A more plausible explanation is the politics of austerity, which had an excessive impact on the poor, the disabled and the elderly. Local councils cannot pay for home visits, cuts have led to rising levels of homelessness, fuel poverty and food bank visits. It is shocking that 18-year-olds with learning disabilities may well not live long enough to draw their pension.
At the heart of this debate is the government’s refusal to engage with inequality. This is an error borne out of ideology. We know that children from poorer backgrounds are more affected by the rise in childhood obesity. So why allow the number of children living in poverty to breach 5 million by 2022, up from around 4 million at present? It is because a key belief in free-market societies is that they reward the industrious and punish the idle. In this system, individuals must have the freedom to choose – and with that freedom would come responsibility. The market, in this system, would not only improve British society; it would remoralise it. To have faith in such an unfettered model of capitalism is a political choice. When applied to public health, the appalling price appears to be to stall progress in life expectancy.
- Meanwhile, Chris Buckley and Mary Marrone highlight how Doug Ford is going out of his way to make life even more precarious for Ontario workers. Noah Smith comments on the effect of crushing student loan debt on millennials. Paul Davidson reports on a new study showing that nearly two-thirds of U.S. jobs are insufficient to support a middle-class standard of living. And Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Ed Crooks discuss yet more evidence that tax giveaways to the rich have done nothing to even indirectly benefit anybody else.

- Andrew Jackson points out that rather than putting an end to Donald Trump's preposterous tariffs on steel and aluminum, the Trudeau Libs have actually handed the U.S. even more ability to control trade with unverifiable claims of "national security".

- Finally, Andrea Huncar reports on the observation of the Office of the Correctional Investigator that Canada's prison system far too frequently uses force as a response to mental health issues.

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