Two quick updates.
Yes, I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. It is more amazing and wonderful than even the commercials hinted at.
Yes, I had a fluke accident while walking in the rain to see Mad Max: Fury Road. I will give more details later as I do not want to further jinx myself. It seems that I may be going to the orthopedist to get my quite injured knee examined on Monday. Fury Road was so damn enthralling I was able to, for the most part, ignore the pain. Leaving the theater? A whole 'nother story. Please do send a brother some love and good energy. If you have the ability to use magic, voodou, juju, or other powers I accept help from most sources...and please, no promises made to Cthulhu and the Old Ones on my behalf.
Hobbling about Chicago at night in the rain, bloody, and on the verge of tears really does give one an insight into humankind's deep ability to ignore their fellow man and woman in obvious distress.
Starting today, there will be a periodic series of posts here on WARN under the theme "killing the useless eaters". These entries will focus on the relationship(s) between neoliberalism, biopiolitics (in many ways "necropolitics" is a better descriptor), and Austerity.
Some of the essays will explore a central and important concept, others will share a link to other work that I believe could be of interest to the readers of the site, as well as some articles that I hope we can annotate and discuss together.
These are central and important themes as we try to make sense of a political order where the notion of "The Commons" has been destroyed, the plutocrats have engineered a society where consumerism, capitalism, and greed are made synonymous with democracy, Vaudeville politics has nurtured a sense of learned helplessness and confusion among the mass public, and the most violent aspects of white supremacy along the colorline are resurgent.
The first essay that I will be featuring is from The American Prospect.
What's Killing Poor White Women highlights how:
Everything about Crystal’s life was ordinary, except for her death. She is one of a demographic—white women who don’t graduate from high school—whose life expectancy has declined dramatically over the past 18 years. These women can now expect to die five years earlier than the generation before them. It is an unheard-of drop for a wealthy country in the age of modern medicine. Throughout history, technological and scientific innovation have put death off longer and longer, but the benefits of those advances have not been shared equally, especially across the race and class divides that characterize 21st--century America. Lack of access to education, medical care, good wages, and healthy food isn’t just leaving the worst-off Americans behind. It’s killing them.
The journal Health Affairs reported the five-year drop last August. The article’s lead author, Jay Olshansky, who studies human longevity at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a team of researchers looked at death rates for different groups from 1990 to 2008. White men without high-school diplomas had lost three years of life expectancy, but it was the decline for women like Crystal that made the study news. Previous studies had shown that the least-educated whites began dying younger in the 2000s, but only by about a year. Olshansky and his colleagues did something the other studies hadn’t: They isolated high-school dropouts and measured their outcomes instead of lumping them in with high-school graduates who did not go to college.
The last time researchers found a change of this magnitude, Russian men had lost seven years after the fall of the Soviet Union, when they began drinking more and taking on other risky behaviors. Although women generally outlive men in the U.S., such a large decline in the average age of death, from almost 79 to a little more than 73, suggests that an increasing number of women are dying in their twenties, thirties, and forties. “We actually don’t know the exact reasons why it’s happened,” Olshansky says. “I wish we did.”Another important finding that highlights one of the little discussed pathologies of White America--much higher rates of drug abuse--and why black women are living longer than poor white women:
As a group, blacks are more likely to die young, because the factors that determine well-being—income, education, access to health care—tend to be worse for blacks. Yet blacks on the whole are closing the life--expectancy gap with whites. In a country where racism still plays a significant role in all that contributes to a healthier, longer life, what could be affecting whites more than blacks?
One theory is that low-income white women smoke and drink and abuse prescription drugs like OxyContin and street drugs like meth more than black women. Despite Crystal’s weight and diabetes, those problems are more common among black women and usually kill more slowly. Meth and alcohol kill quickly. It could be that white women, as a group, are better at killing themselves.
Still, why would white women be more likely to engage in risky behaviors? Another theory is that the kind of place people live in, who is around them, and what those neighbors are doing play a central role. Health is also a matter of place and time.Let us be careful not to be taken in by the siren call of white dysfunction and pathologies as somehow marking White America a group of "victims".
White skin privilege and the psychological wages of Whiteness still pay white people a substantial amount of unearned advantages and dividends in the United States. But, poor white people are an invisible group, one that is largely dismissed and erased from the public discourse because white elites do not want to discuss how "ghetto" or "underclass" pathologies are rampant in the white community: this would break the assumption at the heart of Whiteness that "bad culture" is the exclusive domain of Black America.
Poor whites are perceived as ignoring their own collective economic interests by their loyalty to the Republican Party and the politics of white racial resentment. Of course, the reality is far more complicated as poor white people do in fact vote their supposed "class interests" via support for the Democratic Party.
However, the perception that poor whites are profoundly racist--as well as drunk and stupid in the depths of their false consciousness and allegiance to the White Right--means that many black and brown Americans do not see them as allies in the struggle for social justice.
Second, America was founded as a white racist herrenvolk settler society. One of the core tenets of the United States is the lie of the American Dream and upward mobility for all who "work hard" to achieve it. Poor white people are an example of casino Capitalism's shortcomings and how the neoliberal order deems white people, like all others, as expendable.
What shall we do with poor white people?