Killing with Kindness

I came across this depressing must read by Nicholas Eberstadt. Although most of the information he touches on has been well documented elsewhere, Eberstadt brings it all together beautifully. I find his reasoning a compelling explanation for why so many Americans voted against the “progressive bubble” that Hilary Clinton stood for.

The following punchlines stood out for me:

  • “Between early 2000 and late 2016, America’s overall work rate for Americans age 20 and older … plunged by almost 5 percentage points (from 64.6 to 59.7).”

  • “rising death rates for middle-aged U.S. whites” and “sharply [rising death rates] for those with high-school degrees or less, and for this less-educated grouping most of the rise in death rates was accounted for by suicides, chronic liver cirrhosis, and poisonings (including drug overdoses).”
  • “more Americans died from drug overdoses (largely but not wholly opioid abuse) than from either traffic fatalities or guns”
  • “nearly half of all prime working-age male labor-force dropouts—an army now totaling roughly 7 million men—currently take pain medication on a daily basis.”
  • “nearly three-fifths (57 percent) of [un-working prime-age Anglo males] were reportedly collecting disability benefits from one or more government disability program in 2013”
  • “We cannot say that these programs (disability insurance and Medicaid) caused the death of work for millions upon millions of younger men: What is incontrovertible, however, is that they have financed it —just as Medicaid inadvertently helped finance America’s immense and increasing appetite for opioids”
  • “about 17 million men in our general population have a felony conviction somewhere in their CV. That works out to one of every eight adult males in America today.”
  • “the odds of a 30-year-old’s earning more than his parents at the same age was now just 51 percent: down from 86 percent 40 years ago.”

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