Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Income Inequality and Ill Health

According to an article on znet (seen via Stuart Buck):

In 2000 at the last Olympic fete, we were 24th while last year we were tied for 26th. Fifty-five years ago the US was in the top five and Japan had an even more shameful performance than we do today. Yet Japan, among rich countries, wins the gold in the Smoking Olympics. About 55% of Japanese males smoke, compared to 26% of American men. How do they get away with winning both Gold Medals? What is loaded in Japan's smoking gun?

What makes a population healthy are not the usual do's and don'ts that make an individual healthy. Smoking isn't good for you. But compared to other adverse health conditions, it isn't that bad. What is worse for a population than smoking?

Research has shown that status differences between the rich and the poor may be the best predictors of a population's health. The smaller the gap the higher the life expectancy. The caring and sharing in a society organized by social and economic justice precepts produces good health. A CEO in Japan makes ten times what an average worker makes, not the 531 times in the USA reported earlier this year.

If the gap between rich and poor produces ill health because the sight of a rich person stresses out the poor then …
… envy is quite literally a deadly sin.

On the other hand, maybe second-hand smoke improves health. After all, if we go by post hoc ergo propter hoc standards …


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