Monday, August 5, 2013

No New Deal, But Plenty of Suicides

(Public domain image, courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.Net.)

A recent, interesting article highlights how conservative governments and policies increase the frequency of suicide: "The Corporate Right-Wing Agenda is Driving Thousands of Americans to Attempt Suicide."

The Centers for Disease Control has recently reported a spike in suicides, and linked such spikes to financial stress (see, e.g., here). Interestingly, Republicans in Congress recently, and unanimously, voted against raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, a raise that would have mitigated the financial stress that low-income workers face. A subsequent poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates, showed that the great majority of Americans support a minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour.

On the opposite end from austerity is government investment in its citizenry, for example, the New Deal. Oxford University researcher Dr. David Stuckler and Stanford University epidemiologist Dr. Sanjay Basu recently noted: "Comparing historical data across states, we estimate that every $100 in New Deal spending per capita was associated with a decline in pneumonia deaths of 18 per 100,000 people; a reduction in infant deaths of 18 per 1,000 live births; and a drop in suicides of 4 per 100,000 people" (see "How Austerity Kills," New York Times, May 12, 2013).

So, if we know that our fellow citizens are killing themselves more frequently, and there is a clear correlation between suicide, financial distress, and right-wing policies, why are we continuing down this path? Perhaps the reason is "stupidity," or perhaps the reason is much darker. 

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