Sunday, August 19, 2018

Here's One You Might Never Have Heard Of - "Shit-Life Syndrome."

Where is Charles Dickens now that we need him back? Or even Mark Twain.

A word about "Shit-Life Syndrome." I didn't make that up. It's a term apparently coined by American doctors. It refers to the declining longevity in lower income groups in the United States and, wait for it, the United Kingdom.
Britain and America are in the midst of a barely reported public health crisis. They are experiencing not merely a slowdown in life expectancy, which in many other rich countries is continuing to lengthen, but the start of an alarming increase in death rates across all our populations, men and women alike. We are needlessly allowing our people to die early.
In Britain, life expectancy, which increased steadily for a century, slowed dramatically between 2010 and 2016. The rate of increase dropped by 90% for women and 76% for men, to 82.8 years and 79.1 years respectively. Now, death rates among older people have so much increased over the last two years – with expectations that this will continue – that two major insurance companies, Aviva and Legal and General, are releasing hundreds of millions of pounds they had been holding as reserves to pay annuities to pay to shareholders instead. Society, once again, affecting the citadels of high finance.
Trends in the US are more serious and foretell what is likely to happen in Britain without an urgent change in course. Death rates of people in midlife(between 25 and 64) are increasing across the racial and ethnic divide. It has long been known that the mortality rates of midlife American black and Hispanic people have been worse than the non-Hispanic white population, but last week the British Medical Journal published an important study re-examining the trends for all racial groups between 1999 and 2016 .

US doctors coined a phrase for this condition: “shit-life syndrome”. Poor working-age Americans of all races are locked in a cycle of poverty and neglect, amid wider affluence. They are ill educated and ill trained. The jobs available are drudge work paying the minimum wage, with minimal or no job security. They are trapped in poor neighbourhoods where the prospect of owning a home is a distant dream. There is little social housing, scant income support and contingent access to healthcare. Finding meaning in life is close to impossible; the struggle to survive commands all intellectual and emotional resources. Yet turn on the TV or visit a middle-class shopping mall and a very different and unattainable world presents itself. Knowing that you are valueless, you resort to drugs, antidepressants and booze. You eat junk food and watch your ill-treated body balloon. It is not just poverty, but growing relative poverty in an era of rising inequality, with all its psychological side-effects, that is the killer.
...Shit-life syndrome captures the truth that the bald medical statistics have economic and social roots. Patients so depressed they are prescribed or seek opioids – or resort to alcohol – are suffering not so much from their demons but from the circumstances of their lives. They have a lot to be depressed about. They, and tens of millions like them teetering on the edge of the same condition, constitute Donald Trump’s electoral base, easily tempted by rhetoric that pins the blame on dark foreigners, while castigating countries such as Finland or Denmark, where the trends are so much better, as communist. In Britain, they were heavily represented among the swing voters who delivered Brexit.
Shit-life syndrome is not just a feature of a US city such as Baltimore, where the difference in life expectancy between the richer and poorer districts is as much as 20 years, it’s a feature of our cities, too. Within the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the difference in life expectancy between richest and poorest is 16 years.


Anonymous said...

I'v suspected this for a long a matter of fact since my time in China...Anyong

The Mound of Sound said...

This comes as an especially difficult reality to those of us who were born in an era of such boundless promise. Life was better for us than our parents had known it and we imagined that could only continue.

We participated in the greatest, most robust and broadbased middle class experience in history. It was an engine of social mobility that could easily propel someone from the grip of casual, unskilled labour into a genuinely middle class trades job and saw a lot of their children become the first in the family to attend university and move into the professions, the pinnacle of this expansive middle class. Wealth was neatly distributed along this spectrum. Employment for many was secure and often came with crucial benefits that were especially valuable to those raising families.

Then the government handed over the public to the vagaries and self-interests of the marketplace, the age of neo-liberalism. Organized labour cratered. The ladder of social mobility was pulled up, safely out of reach. Inequality and division set in. Governments began increasingly serving private interests over the public interest.

Even in Canada finance minister Morneau told the Canadian people they would have to accept a future of "job churn" and he didn't get his ass fired straight out of cabinet. That's government policy. And we put up with it. These Liberals sicken me.

ffibs said...

This started long before Marceau. He just doesn't know his new gig and gets got spilling the truth every now and then. He will get better at it.

e. a. f. said...

It is interesting we read this type of information on blogs but not in MS newspapers. Of course they wouldn't want to start a revolution. You wonder what ever happened to progressive political parties who used to use these types of stats to increase the vote for their parties. guess they also don't care.

If people want to ensure they live longer they might want to get rid of May in England and the Democrats and republicas in the U.S.A. Neither major political party cares about the citizens.

Income inequity I'm sure kills more people than disease.

Trailblazer said...

The shit life syndrome has been around for a long time.
A few decades of working class improvements is not a trend.
The killing of unionised labour reversed the trend to a better world.

As for income inequity I yearn for the days when wealth was judged by the quality of the cigarettes they smoked , did they drink wine at christmas or take a holiday in the Mediterranean or even did they drive a car or a motorbike?

Bit different now is it not?


pakescorts646 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Owen Gray said...

I's the New Fuedalism. Our Lords and Masters need more serfs.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Willy. I don't believe Morneau misspoke. He was as comfortable discussing job churn in front of the media as he would have been chuckling about it around a board table. To him, and the rest of his cabinet, it's just part of the natural order of things. He didn't suggest doing anything to staunch its spread or, gasp, somehow reverse this miserable outcome. It was pure, "like it or lump it."

The Mound of Sound said...

e.a.f. - this sort of thing doesn't show up much in Canadian papers, to be sure, but this did come from the Guardian/Observer.

I left the LPC when it became apparent that the final traces of progressivism had been expunged from the party and for good. Today they're Conservative-Lite and their party rank and file seem just fine with that. The NDP also shifted to the right becoming Latter Day Liberals and abandoning the Left. This was Harper's ultimate triumph - shifting Canada's political center well and truly to the Right. The Liberals and New Dems didn't have to follow Harper's path. They chose to shift and, once the Tories were run out of office, they chose not to even our political keel.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, TB, it is different now. The class divide has become a chasm. The wealthy are not content with the regime of everyday low taxes. They take wealth they received here and squirrel it away offshore. I know some of these people. They think this is a principled way to arrange their affairs.

When the federal government's hand was forced on the KPMG/Isle of Man tax fraud, who went to jail? The accountants who hatched the fraud and raked in fortunes flogging it to the wealthy? The taxpayers who knowingly chose to stash their cash out of reach of the government? No one. The CRA, when it was forced to act, even cut deals with the miscreants, gave them a break.

Now a survey of CRA staffers demonstrates that they really do pamper the rich. And Trudeau is just fine with that.

The Mound of Sound said...

It does resemble neo-feudalism, Owen. That's especially evident in the US and UK but our government is constantly pressured to follow suit for "the sake of competitiveness." These other countries bleed their plebs, bequeath them "shit-life" existences, so what's our problem?

Tal Hartsfeld said...

You are what you eat, what you drink, what you see, what you hear, what you touch, what you think, what you breathe, what you smell, what you taste ...

Or, Biblically speaking: Those who keep regular company with fools and knaves eventually turn out likewise
...but those who keep regular company with the wise eventually develop wisdom

One's normal everyday environment matters!