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ALAN NASSER – How Inequality Kills

Summary:
Poverty leads to increases in drug and alcohol use as well as suicide, but it also increase violent behavior. Some poor people who feel they have low status may find they can gain respect gang culture. If they feel no good at anything - like they failed at school and ended up low paid jobs - they might decide that at least they can be the worse and most notorious, and so by becoming the 'scariest' and the 'bad-est' they feel can get respect that way even if it is a disastrous way to do it.  If these people feel 'diss-ed' in any way, they may then turn to extreme violence to try to maintain their status. Some gangs in American now prefer to use machetes rather than guns because it makes them feel even meaner.        How Neoliberal Austerity Kills There is decisive evidence that

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Poverty leads to increases in drug and alcohol use as well as suicide, but it also increase violent behavior. Some poor people who feel they have low status may find they can gain respect gang culture. If they feel no good at anything - like they failed at school and ended up low paid jobs - they might decide that at least they can be the worse and most notorious, and so by becoming the 'scariest' and the 'bad-est' they feel can get respect that way even if it is a disastrous way to do it.  If these people feel 'diss-ed' in any way, they may then turn to extreme violence to try to maintain their status. Some gangs in American now prefer to use machetes rather than guns because it makes them feel even meaner.       
How Neoliberal Austerity Kills
There is decisive evidence that neoliberalism’s widening inequality tends to generate uncommon rates of physical and mental health disorders. (7) A Princeton study found that middle-aged non-Hispanic white Americans suffered a great increase in mortality between 1998 and 2013. (8) This was the first such case in American history. The increase is entirely concentrated among persons with a high school degree or less, a reliable criterion of poverty. Among whites with any college experience, mortality rates have declined during this period. And disease is not the issue. The predominant causes of death are suicide, chronic alcohol abuse and drug overdoses. Paul Krugman has noted that these statistics mirror “the collapse in Russian life expectancy after the fall of communism.” (9) The Princeton study labels these mortalities “deaths of despair.” It is noteworthy that among the population in question, wages have fallen by over 30 percent since 1969. (10) In a detailed study of the health effects of austerity, based on data from the Great Depression, Asian countries during the 1990s Asian Financial Crisis, and European countries suffering austerity policies after the 2008 crisis, researchers found that the more austerity was practiced in a country, the more people became ill and the more people died. (11)
Homicide and murder are also strongly related to inequality. The World Bank reports that inequality predicts about half of the variance in murder rates between the U.S. and other countries and the FBI notes that of U.S. murders for which the precipitating reason is known over half stem from the agent’s sense that he had been “dissed.” (12) Persons shoot someone who has cut them off in traffic or beat them to a parking spot.
In connection with the high number of homicides associated with dissing, i.e. challenging a person’s sense of self-respect or personal worth, the psychologist and neuroscientist Martin Daly documents the intimate connection between inequality and loss of personal and social status. He shows that inequality predicts homicide rates “better than any other variable.” (13) In America, status is determined by how much a person has, and having is a matter of the standard of material living one enjoys, competitively conceived in terms of how one compares with others. And the admired standard is one’s level of material comfort, determined for the non-wealthy by a good job and the ability to support a family or the ability to enjoy a comfortable and independent standard of living as a single person. These makers of social status and self-respect are unavailable to those at the lower ends of the income hierarchy and the unemployed. Self-respect is one of men’s (and most homicides are male-on-male) most prized goods, and self-respect, as much as income and wealth, is unequally distributed. In a society where there are structurally determined winners and losers, if one is a loser one’s social reputation is all one has, all one can brandish, in order to maintain a sense of self-respect and personal worth. A diss is a blow to both social reputation and self-respect, and if one has nothing else, the threat looms disproportionately large.
While gang murders are not the majority of murders by the poor, they display in stripped-down form the way in which dissing translates to a social put-down and social denigration makes for personal humiliation and devaluation. The disser becomes a deadly rival. The research I cite in this essay shows that this syndrome is by no means limited to gang culture.
Most recently, David Ansell, a physician and social epidemiologist, has demonstrated in an exhaustive study that the acceleration of inequality between high and low socioeconomic groups over the past three decades has resulted in higher mortality rates for the poorest strata of the working class. He concludes that “[I]nequality triggers so many causes of premature death that we need to treat inequality as a disease and eradicate it, just as we seek to halt any epidemic.” (14) Capitalism, in its post-welfare-state form, kills.
Mike Norman
Mike Norman is an economist and veteran trader whose career has spanned over 30 years on Wall Street. He is a former member and trader on the CME, NYMEX, COMEX and NYFE and he managed money for one of the largest hedge funds and ran a prop trading desk for Credit Suisse.

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