Kate Kelland at Reuters reports on a new book by Oxford University political economist David Stuckler and Stanford University epidemiologist and assistant professor of medicine Sanjay Basu, entitled The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills. The authors track the health effects of austerity policies in Europe and North America, and conclude that they are “devastating.”
Shocking, I know!
Incredible as it sounds, it turns out that government policies that vastly enrich plutocrats at the expense of ordinary citizens increase rates of suicide, depression and infectious diseases while reducing access to health care.
Look at Greece, for instance:
In Greece, moves like cutting HIV prevention budgets have coincided with rates of the AIDS-causing virus rising by more than 200 percent since 2011 – driven in part by increasing drug abuse in the context of a 50 percent youth unemployment rate.
Greece also experienced its first malaria outbreak in decades following budget cuts to mosquito-spraying programs.
But seriously, who cares about a 200% increase in HIV rates among Greeks, amirite? Most Americans couldn’t find Greece on a globe if their very bootstraps depended on it. Perhaps this might closer to home:
And more than five million Americans have lost access to healthcare during the latest recession, they argue, while in Britain, some 10,000 families have been pushed into homelessness by the government’s austerity budget.
Oops, I’m sorry — most of the fine citizens of The Greatest Country in the World probably couldn’t find the UK on a map, either. Maybe the coming malaria outbreaks and shortages of essential medicines will sharpen their geography skills. They might have to immigrate to Mexico or something. For, you know, health care.
David Stuckler’s previous studies published in The Lancet and the British Medical Journal linked austerity measures to rising suicide rates and HIV epidemics, but the central message of the new book is that public health need not suffer, even in a financial crisis. It’s a matter of government policy.
“Ultimately what we show is that worsening health is not an inevitable consequence of economic recessions. It’s a political choice,” Basu said in the statement.
Well. Apparently some people did not get the Bootstraps Memo. Rather than take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!!11!!! and work hard at a well-paying job with fantastic health benefits down at the local bootstrap factory, some people would evidently prefer to be homeless, acquire HIV and/or malaria, and kill themselves at alarming rates.
NOTE: This post may contain lethal levels of sarcasm.