Re: LONGEVITY: Social Factors

Kathryn Aegis (
Wed, 19 Aug 1998 15:30:36 -0700 (PDT)

I'm reposting this to get it into the archives under a proper thread name. My other posting has a new message.

>At 10:48 AM 8/18/98 -0700, Robin Hanson wrote:

>>It's clear that being poor is a very big hit on health, that it mostly isn't
>>due to spending less on health care, nor to the poor having worse behavior
>>like smoking, lack of excercise. eating fats, etc. <snip>

>>The article acknowledges this, but seems to equivocate regarding policy.
>>They admit money isn't the big issue on health, but then complain about how
>>much money Bill Gates has. They admit that "these problems won't be solved
>>with a little 1960s-style income redistribution," but then complain "we
>>are ready to throw a century's worth of social welfare measures in the

This is where Lardner's somewhat casual writing style creates misunderstandings, and I wish that the Post had done a tighter editing job on this piece. If you read carefully, you will note that he never takes a position on any particular aspect of the U.S. welfare debate. His intent in some paragraphs seems to be to point out how bogged down we get when we drag the welfare debate into every mention of class issues. Americans tend to use 'class' as a code word for 'poverty', because we try to perpetuate the notion that we live in a nonstratified social structure. Lardner rejects that and focuses on the very *experience* of class--the stress that comes from living as someone's subordinate. He pulled together a set of studies that, when combined, point to a larger theme of how the day-to-day experiencing of living within a heavily stratified society can adversely affect everyone within it equally. This provides some evidence in support of crafting future societie that rely less on heirarchy and dominance, and more on collaboration and individual development.


Kathryn Aegis