Drugs Economy Healthcare

Don’t Vote For People Who Want You Dead

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The United States of America can now say something that no other western or industrialized nation can: our life expectancy is declining at a rate not seen since the early 20th century.

Accidentally or intentionally, Americans are killing themselves at a staggering rate. A record number of over 70,000 Americans were killed by overdoses in 2017 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

New numbers Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, a record. Overdose deaths are higher than deaths from H.I.V., car crashes or gun violence at their peaks. The data also show that the increased deaths correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls.

Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyls and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000, from 3,000. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.

For comparison, guns kill approximately 33,000 Americans per year while opioids are currently killing over 70,000.

Intentional suicides also reached a 50-year high in 2017.

The suicide death rate last year was the highest it’s been in at least 50 years, according to U.S. government records. There were more than 47,000 suicides, up from a little under 45,000 the year before.

For decades, U.S. life expectancy was on the upswing, rising a few months nearly every year. Now it’s trending the other way: It fell in 2015, stayed level in 2016, and declined again last year, the CDC said.

The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill nearly 1 million Americans. Life expectancy in 1918 was 39.

I don't have a peer-reviewed scientific study in front of me to confirm it, but I firmly believe record numbers of Americans are killing themselves because of the conservative movement and conservative governance.

If "economic anxiety" is a thing that exists, and if various forms of insecurity from emotional to financial are compelling Americans to kill themselves, it was conservative politicians who created it.

Republican and conservative politicians don't believe in basic public safety regulations, health care, unions, higher wages, climate change, progressive taxation, clean air and water, voting rights, gun control, public works projects, or modern liberal democracy in general. Republicans would roll back The Enlightenment if they could.

I've often said you shouldn't 'vote for people who want you dead,' but many Americans continue to do so because upholding white supremacy is more important to them than their own lives and the lives of their family. Every state has their own examples, but it's not a coincidence that the most reliably red, conservative states in the country have the worst mortality rates, education, and finances.

Take Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) for example. Kentucky has repeatedly elected him for the past 34 years although he's done virtually nothing for the state and is, in fact, at least partially if not primarily responsible for the economic misfortune of Appalachia. McConnell built his entire career on sheltering the coal industry in Congress and all his constituents have to show for it is bankruptcy and death. Some of the poorest counties in the entire nation are located in Eastern Kentucky coal country.

In my own state of Ohio, the people just recently elected Attorney General Mike DeWine as the next governor over former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray. During the campaign season, DeWine as his allies poured millions into attacks ads opposing leniency for drug abuse victims and claimed Cordray would let dangerous criminals and boogeyman out of prison to come get you. A ballot initiative that would have reduced criminal penalties for substance abuse and increased funding for drug treatment programs was also soundly defeated, suggesting that a significant number of white Democrats also voted against it.

Across the entire country, access to health care is more expensive today than it was years ago because Republicans elected in almost every state intentionally made it more expensive. They tried and failed to repeal coverage for pre-existing conditions, but they succeeded in sabotaging the mechanisms of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that actually make access affordable. Conservative state governments have also prevented millions of their own constituents from accessing health care by refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

Don't vote for people who want you dead.

  • Christopher Foxx

    but it’s not a coincidence that the most reliably red, conservative states in the country have the worst mortality rates,

    I don’t have a problem with that. Seems to me it’s going to help bring about the much needed destruction of the Republican party. IF they want to vote for people who want to kill them, then hurry up and die, that works for me.

  • katanahamon

    As a chronic pain patient I’m forced to go every thirty days to pay a specialist dr fee to be briefly “examined”, meaning I talk to the PA, just to receive brand new opioid prescriptions. In addition to many other restrictions and expenses, the situation for people who actually need opioids is utterly ridiculous in the US and as we see, none of these ridiculous laws has prevented any deaths. Instead, it has facilitated them. Plus, the stigma and miseducation about how useful opioids actually are is rampant now to the point that Drs aren’t prescribing them to people that actually need them, and the odds that your pain isn’t controlled sufficiently even while you are in hospital are quite high. Combine this with all the other issues our country is experiencing and we are designing quite a hostile and cruel society.

  • muselet

    One would think that politicians would be concerned that their constituents are dying from stupid and preventable causes in large numbers. Some are, of course, but then there are others like Mitch McConnell, who is far more concerned that his large campaign contributors (for which, read paymasters) have their desires fulfilled.

    One would also think that said constituents would wise up at some point, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. If they ever see fit to direct their anger and resentment in the appropriate direction, tar and feathers will be the least of Rs’ worries.

    A decent country would be shocked and appalled by this, and take urgent measures to deal with it. We are currently doing nothing.

    I don’t like what that says about us.

    –alopecia

    • Christopher Foxx

      The decent countries didn’t get into this kind of situation.

      • muselet

        Wild upswings in drug-related deaths can happen anywhere, even in decent countries.

        –alopecia

        • Christopher Foxx

          People can have problems even in the most “decent” of places. It’s not the existence of a problem that makes a place indecent. It’s how that problem is responded to.

          On that basis, America has become quite indecent.

  • notanncoulter

    as long as it’s libtards killing themselves, then i imagine they are just fine with that.
    on the other hand, the opioid epidemic is taking out way too many non-people-of-color for them to ignore [forever], right?

    • notanncoulter

      i should add that i have 2 junkies in my family – not via prescription meds.
      real ‘shoot em up’ junkies.
      both threw away their lives for drugs.
      one of them has been gone since the mid 70s, the other in a self-imposed exile for the past 15 years to keep himself away from the people that would drag him back into it.
      both of them my older brothers and i miss them very much.
      i am very grateful that i have not succumbed to this.
      what i don’t think people understand is that, eventually, you are not even using to get high.
      you are using to not be sick.
      that’s fucking insidious.

  • mnpollio

    This is actually one of the more well-reasoned overviews of this epidemic. Thanks for putting this into such clear and incisive words. I truly agree with you that the mental and emotional meltdown that so many people in this country have been enduring is in a large degree due to the “who cares” conservative overview and its culmination in the Trump disaster.