Five Ways The 1% Are Killing Us

The trolls have been out blasting BuzzFlash at Truthout for calling the fossil fuel industry “eco-terrorists” for careening the earth into a human-made death spiral, but it’s true.

Those who can’t smell the carbon dioxide ravaging the earth for hedonistic profit – enabled by federal and many state and local governments – will find out that just because you can’t smell global warming does not mean that it is not brewing a cauldron of devastation just over the horizon.

Since 9/11 few Americans have been killed by terrorists, but we have built a multi-billion dollar “anti-terrorist” intelligence, military, surveillance and incarceration state to deal with a threat that pales in comparison to global warming.

Toss in the lurking big bang of devastation to life on earth – the grand finale of global warming – and the 1% are living the last days of Pompeii in at least five different ways that are killing many of the rest of us.

Here they are:

1) The Wall Street Journal just published an article on a study that explains why the wealthy believe that the United States has the best health system in the world (when it has been ranked as low as 36 compared to other nations); it’s because the rich live longer.

Yes, The Wall Street Journal, of all publications, was perhaps boasting when it posted a report: “The Richer You Are the Older You’ll Get”:

The data shows that the life expectancy of the wealthy is growing much faster than the life expectancy of the poor….

for women, the longevity and income trends are even more striking. While the wealthiest women from the 1940s are living longer, the poorest 40% are seeing life expectancy decline from the previous generation.

There is an impact in this data even on the inequity of Social Security distribution, according to the research:  “It turns out people at the bottom are not having an increase in life expectancy. They are getting a real reduction” in Social Security benefits as a result, said Mr. Bosworth [a reaseacher]. “They’re going to get it for less years.”

2) Continuing to pursue the issue of the life expectancy gap growing between the plutocrats and the rest of the United States citizens, consider this noteworthy dubious distinction. According to, the US is the “Mecca for overpriced medicine”:

  • A one-day hospital stay averaged $4,293 in the United States last year, according to the federation’s 2013 Comparative Price Report. That’s nine times more than hospitals charge in Spain, and three times the Australian rate.
  • The report reveals similar price disparities for a range of common medical procedures, from childbirth to hip replacement, and for drugs aimed at everything from heartburn to cancer.
  • The average MRI scan cost eight times more in the United States than in Switzerland ($1,145 versus $138).
  • Americans paid nine times more than Canadians ($896 versus $97) for an abdominal CT scan.

And what might be one of the key contributing factors to the cost of health care in the US?

Other developed countries regulate medical costs, and most governments pay centrally for health care. As a result, they can force suppliers to negotiate fair prices. America’s free-market religion may foster more innovation, but it lets sellers set prices that buyers can’t refuse. (Congress has expressly barred the federal government from negotiating drug prices with manufacturers.)

So the 1% who make a living from medicine not only inflate medical costs because of the unfettered free market, they then have the money to buy the executive insurance that can pay the burgeoning expenses.  Yes, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insured some eight million additional people, but not all insurance policies are the same.  Lower middle class US citizens can often only afford ACA policies with high decutibles (the same is true for jobs where there are high choices) and co-pays.

The rich not only can get zero deductible policies; they can easily pay any extra medical expenses in cash. In short, the rest of us still need to generally ration health care with high-deductible insurance (that also often excludes certain procedures and increasingly charges exorbitant costs for name brand medication), which clearly shortens life span in the agregate.

3) Although of late BuzzFlash at Truthout has focused on global warming as the looming threat to life – or the sixth extinction as New Yorker author Elizabeth Kolbert calls it in her latest book – every day US citizens are exposed to toxins, including carcinogens, that spread across our land, our air and into our aquifers.  The source is generally loosely regulated – and even more irregularly enforced. These are generally industries that pollute our local communities through: by-products of fossil fuel refining and spills; run-offs and poisonous debris of the extraction (mining) industry; companies that dump toxic waste into rivers, open pits, and wherever they can get away with it; and the list goes on.

In essence, many locations in the US have become the life-shortening noxious waste dump for “industrial progress” and the profits of over-consumption. That too is killing many of us, unless we are rich.

4) That brings BuzzFlash at Truthout back to its commitment to keep pulling the klaxon on global warming.  Although many average residents in the US and elsewhere wake up to trilling birds and sunny spring days now, there is a fatal nightmarish storm of our own-making brewing around us.  It is already sending us ominous signs of its ferocity with the likes of Hurricane Sandy and the droughts around the world, but when the swirling seeds of disaster are germinated, we will find no prayers that can save us from the merciless destruction we have let the corporate elite – with the enabling of their puppet politicians – unleash.

5) Wars, such as in Iraq (and throughout the history of the US as an empire), are fought not for the expansion of democracy, but rather for the dual purpose of guaranteeing control over fossil fuels and minerals while expanding market territory.  The US will prefer a dictator – as it has repeatedly has shown, particularly military juntas – over democratically-elected governments if the latter engage in any sort of alternative economic system to unrestrained capitalism.  There may be a few cases in which the US did not attempt to overthow a nation that did or does not support what is now known as neoliberalism, but aside from North Korea (which has the fourth largest army in the world and claims to have nuclear weapons – and remember it did try to overthrow Cuba and Venezuela), the US government is the reigning empire capturing markets and resources.

How does this kill us? Young Americans, now often those who can find no other job, have died for empire, not the spreading of democracy.   They have died in wars that the US government has undertaken to enrich the 1% and maintain the US consumption of 25 percent of the world’s resouces for our nation’s 4 percent of the world’s population.

You can kill a person with any number of weapons – or you can have the killing done for you through public policies and actions that ensure your fingerprints are not on the weapon.

We know which alternative the 1% are choosing.