Dr Alf’s Two Cents: Only the Poor Die Young by Johan P. Mackenbach – Project Syndicate

Chicken Tiki Masala - Work Social

Chicken Tiki Masala – Work Social (Photo credit: mangee)

This article by Prof. Mackenbach, published by Project Syndicate is WORTH A READ. Check it out!

via Only the Poor Die Young by Johan P. Mackenbach – Project Syndicate.

When I saw the title I was expecting the article to be about deaths from war; in wars, the largest share of the soldiers come from poor backgrounds. I was a little surprised that the article focused on effectiveness of postwar social policies in Europe. In particular, the article highlights that the poor, typically from less educated, lower income, social  lower classes, die younger; Mackenbach noted that this trend was also present in Scandinavia, often highlighted as the beacon for social policy. The author concluded that the solution was higher taxes that favored redistribution in favor of the poor.

I was particularly interested in the following comment:

Long-term time-series data indicate that the socioeconomic mortality gap narrowed before the 1950’s, but has grown substantially since then.

Personally, I am uncomfortable with the argument in favor of higher taxes designed to take from the rich and give to the poor, like in the current French model. Based on my political views, I favor lower taxes, a small state and a meritocracy that favors individualism.

In my mind, social policies have been increasingly abused by do-good politicians, inefficient bureaucrats, and ungrateful recipients. Austerity policies across Europe have helped to highlight the causes of the socioeconomic mortality gap, namely smoking, physical exercise, diet, and alcohol consumption.

For me, Germany provides a good model or benchmark for social policies, and France and the UK highlight ineffective policies.

This leads me to an emerging open question:

In austerity savaged Europe, what should policy-makers do about the socioeconomic mortality gap, i.e. poorer people die younger?

Any thoughts?

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13 responses

  1. They have to lower taxes to the point where money hidden offshore by individuals and corporations through tax evasion comes back onshore .
    Then they must allow that money to be reinvested in infrastructure projects without penalising those who hid it in the first place with further taxes or an attempt to recover what was not paid in the first instance provided that members of the indigenous population based on a formula to be devised ,are employed.
    Young Millenials and middle aged baby boomers need business boot camps ,incubators and start up working capital to create businesses from sources other than VC,s.
    Then we need:
    1)Variable taxes on foods
    2)The promotion of Mediterranean diets
    3)Enabling philosophies to be taught to the poor
    4)More crowdsourcing
    5)Less offshoring
    6)A quadrupling of the export salesforce and faster writing down allowances
    7)New assisted passage schemes to places like Australia and Canada
    8)Tai Chi and exercise to be made mandatory for the obese
    9)Less sugar ,e -numbers,aspartame,fluoride and salt in food and less poisons in packaging ,plastics and the environment.
    10)Health education to stop people drinking on an empty stomach ,becoming depressed and then dying early
    11)Times 1000 CEO,s and MD,s of Jordans 5000 Mid Caps to earn no more than 50 times the average salary unless their performance is so extraordinary it warrants more.
    The figure in Germany is 12 to 1 whereas our figure with bonuses(often paid for abject failure to meet targets or even massive losses) can be as high as 450 to 1
    12)The public sector cut down to 5000 civil servants and 15 Regional Authorities,Constabularies and Fire Commands with 4 to 5 shared service centres for the UK and centralised purchasing with a rotating panel of providers
    13)No more regressive carbon taxes and a drive to frack and frack now plus build nuclear power stations to create energy self sufficiency within 1 Parliament
    14)The UK to become a tax haven run on Swiss and Singaporean lines with a cut down bicycling Monarchy,200 MP,s,a Senate to replace the House of Lords and an NHS replacement
    15)Neutrality and no more foreign military adventurism unless attacked
    16)No more immigration unless they are top scientists or workers with special skills

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