Trump and the Pain of Blue-Collar Whites


Exclusive: The plight of working-class white Americans, as their jobs have disappeared and self-destructive behavior has shortened their lives, helps explain Donald Trump’s success, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

The shocking new report that U.S. life expectancy declined last year is not only a disturbing indicator of Americans’ troubled physical health — our expected lifespan now ranks only 31st in the world — but of our troubled political health as well.

Social scientists and a few number-crunching journalists have uncovered surprising geographic correlations between white voters’ propensity to support Donald Trump and rates of drug overdoses, suicide and morbid conditions like obesity, which are major contributors to the national decline in life expectancy. Some examples:

A sign supporting Donald Trump at a rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016 (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

A sign supporting Donald Trump at a rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016 (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

–A study published this December by sociologist Shannon Monnat at Penn State University, focusing on the industrial Midwest, Appalachia and New England, confirmed that Trump performed significantly better than Mitt Romney in counties with higher death rates from drugs, alcohol and suicide. In parts of the Midwest suffering from the worst death rates, Trump outperformed Romney by a remarkable 16.7 percent, more than double his edge in counties with lower mortality rates.

–Using county-level data from the University of Washington, The Economist found that rates of obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking, and lack of exercise were the single best predictor of the change in eligible voters who went Republican from 2012 to 2014, holding other factors like race, education, and income constant. According to its model, “if diabetes were just 7% less prevalent in Michigan, Mr. Trump would have gained 0.3 fewer percentage points there, enough to swing the state back to the Democrats. Similarly, if an additional 8% of people in Pennsylvania engaged in regular physical activity, and heavy drinking in Wisconsin were 5% lower, Mrs. Clinton would be set to enter the White House.”

–Similar factors also helped Trump against other Republican contenders. Analyzing the Super Tuesday primaries, the Washington Post’s Jeff Guo concluded that “Donald Trump performed the best in places where middle-aged whites are dying the fastest.” Guo called it “striking that Trump’s promise to ‘Make America Great Again’ has been most enthusiastically embraced by those who have seen their own life’s prospects diminish the most — not [only] in terms of material wealth, but in terms of literal chances of survival. . . . We still don’t know what exactly is causing middle-aged white death rates to rise, but it seems that Donald Trump has adeptly channeled this white suffering into political support.”

Penn State’s Monnat cites the example of Scioto County in Ohio, a blue-collar region described eloquently by Sam Quinones in his book Dreamland.

Following the loss of its factories in the 1980s and 1990s, the country became “the pill-mill capital of America, with more prescription pain relievers per capita than any other place in the country. Today in Scioto County, incomes are lower than in the 1980s, and poverty, disability, and unemployment rates are high. Scioto County’s drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rate more than doubled from 32.9 in 1999 to 74.8 in 2014, and Trump received 33 percent more of the county’s vote than Romney.”

Monnat concludes, “Ultimately, at the core of increasingly common ‘deaths of despair’ is a desire to escape – escape pain, stress, anxiety, shame, and hopelessness. These deaths represent only a tiny fraction of those suffering from substance abuse and mental health diseases and disorders, and the effects ripple beyond the individuals who die to include families, friends, first responders, service providers, and employers. Drug and alcohol disorders and suicides are occurring within a larger context of people and places desperate for change.”

Although the causal links to national politics are complex, the rising physical distress of many white Americans is closely linked to their rising economic distress. Together, those conditions have fostered widespread anxiety and deep populist anger that Trump successfully exploited to win a majority of electoral votes. Those conditions are certain to continue long past the 2016 election.

Drugging and Dying of White America

Life expectancy is perhaps the single most telling summary measure of a society’s well-being. Worldwide, the trend in most countries has long been upward, paralleled by improvements in education, income, nutrition, public health, and medicine. One prominent exception was the Russian Federation, where experts warned of a “peacetime demographic crisis” (as life expectancy plunged during the 1990s amid the “shock therapy” prescribed to transform the Soviet centralized economy to one dominated by neoliberal or “free market” capitalism).

Donald Trump speaking with supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump speaking with supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Now it appears that serious ills afflict the United States as well. The National Center for Health Statistics reported last week that rising death rates for heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, and accidents lowered the life expectancy of Americans in 2015.

Princeton economist Anne Case said, “I think we should be very concerned. This is singular. This doesn’t happen.”

Case was co-author, with Nobel laureate economist Angus Deaton, of a widely cited study last year that noted for the first time a rise in mortality among middle-aged white Americans from 1999 to 2013. It was big enough to cause half a million more deaths than if trends from previous years had continued.

“This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis,” they observed. “This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround.” It was also unique to non-Hispanic whites; death rates fell for middle-aged black and Hispanic Americans.

The numbers are stark: Over the past decade, some 400,000 Americans committed suicide, a similar number died of drug overdoses, and a quarter million died from alcohol-related diseases. The researchers also cited a significant rise in reports among the living of chronic pain, psychological distress, alcohol use, and general difficulty with “activities of daily living.” More than a third of middle aged whites reported suffering from chronic pain, a major risk factor for suicide, alcoholism, and drug abuse.

New figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that deaths from opioids — including hydrocodone, heroin, and synthetic fentanyl — reached a record 33,000 last year, a fourfold increase over 1999.

“In a grim milestone,” the Washington Post reported, “more people died from heroin-related causes than from gun homicides in 2015. As recently as 2007, gun homicides outnumbered heroin deaths by more than 5 to 1.”

Debate Over Causes

Conservative social theorists, who used to blame joblessness and family breakups among African-Americans on a “culture of poverty,” now lament that similar moral and culture failings afflict many white families and their communities.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Charles Murray, whose critique of African-American intelligence in The Bell Curve earned him a racist reputation in some circles, turned his attention to working-class whites in his 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. Citing rising rates of chronic joblessness, crime, divorce, and alienation from churches, Murray said discouraged whites had lost touch with the “founding virtues” of America — industriousness, honesty, marriage, and religion. He blamed lax cultural standards rather than economic insecurity or deindustrialization for their woes, many of which he considers preventable and self-inflicted.

National Review contributor J. D. Vance similarly sees “a sense of learned helplessness” behind the travails of many white inhabitants of Greater Appalachia, whom he describes in Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. “There is a lack of agency here,” he writes, “. . . and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself.”

In contrast, liberal analysts — like those at the Economic Policy Institute — have for at least two decades called attention to the loss of factory jobs and falling real wages for less educated white men in this country. Today, an astonishing one of every eight men in the prime ages from 25 to 54 has left the job market entirely, more than three times the fraction in the 1960s. The causes include rising employer demand for college-level skills, foreign competition, and the demise of unions, but the result has been to marginalize traditional blue-collar workers and frustrate their attempts to achieve the American dream.

Such economic trends don’t explain everything. Case and Deaton point out that death rates have not risen in other countries with similar wage trends. One reason may be that they have tighter safety nets, which soften the blow to individuals, families and communities.

Some reverse causality may also be at work, from health to bad economic and social outcomes. For example, pain, substance abuse and severe obesity contribute to increased rates of disability and workers dropping out of the labor force. Princeton economist Alan Krueger recently reported that 40 percent of prime-aged men who aren’t employed or looking for work say pain prevents them from working at a full-time job. Most of them take potent prescription pain medications on a daily basis. They also report less happiness, more sadness and more stress than unemployed men.

Another contributor to the pain-and-disability epidemic may be America’s never-ending wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. “A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that half of all troops who return from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic pain,” writes libertarian critic Cathy Reisenwitz.

Reisenwitz and other analysts blame a crackdown by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on painkiller prescriptions for increasing suffering among patients and leading many to turn to dangerous street drugs and alcohol for temporary relief. When vets and other pain sufferers do get addicted, she adds, the DEA makes it tough for them to get methadone to manage their withdrawal symptoms.

“The DEA’s efforts to keep chronic pain sufferers from accessing prescription painkillers and methadone is literally killing them,” she writes. “The best thing the Trump administration could do to end the overdose epidemic is to stop the war on painkillers.”

Connecting the Dots

The physical and psychological distress experienced by many white Americans has generated angry resentment toward government and particularly toward America’s first black president.

President Obama in the Oval Office.

President Obama in the Oval Office.

As J. D. Vance put it, “We know we’re not doing well. We see it every day: in the obituaries for teenage kids that conspicuously omit the cause of death (reading between the lines: overdose), in the deadbeats we watch our daughters waste their time with. Barack Obama strikes at the heart of our deepest insecurities. He is a good father while many of us aren’t. He wears suits to his job while we wear overalls, if we’re lucky enough to have a job at all. His wife tells us that we shouldn’t be feeding our children certain foods, and we hate her for it — not because we think she’s wrong but because we know she’s right.”

Significantly, political scientists Michael Tesler and Philip Klinker found that Trump’s assault on “political correctness” won him overwhelming support from Republican voters who score highest on surveys of resentment toward minority groups. Citing the recent works of academic popularizers such as political scientist Kathy Cramer (The Politics of Resentment) and sociologist Arlie Hochschild (Strangers in Their Own Land), Jeff Guo argues that many white voters resented minorities and immigrants for supposedly moving ahead of them in economic opportunity, social status, and access to government programs. Adopting white identity politics, they lashed out at the Democratic Party for enabling what they viewed as an unfair distribution of power, money, and respect.

As Guo put it, “what Trump has taken a sadistic advantage of is not so much raw anger, but rather its more basic predicate: the shame of being lesser-than.”

Trump didn’t offer any meaningful prescriptions for the suffering of angry white people, but he did go out of his way to acknowledge their pain. He portrayed America as a train wreck, not a land of opportunity. He didn’t just hammer away at the loss of well-paying factory jobs; he promised as well to stop “drugs pouring into our country and destroying our youth.” And he made it clear by words and gestures that white America would come first in his White House.

The policies his team favors — cutting taxes for the rich, gutting the Affordable Care Act, rolling back regulations against air and water pollution, freezing the minimum wage and favoring charter schools over public education — are unlikely to remedy the psychic and physical pain of many white Americans.

Soon their celebration of Trump’s victory will fade. Their sense of loss may be compounded by a sense of betrayal as Washington once again fails to mitigate their plight. Where they choose to project their anger next will have a major impact on American politics over the next four years.

Jonathan Marshall is former Economics Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the author or co-author of five books, including Drug Wars and Cocaine Politics

25 comments for “Trump and the Pain of Blue-Collar Whites

  1. Martin Miller
    December 19, 2016 at 13:41

    I’d like to point out another item largely overlooked in this article. While it implies white blue collar are losing their advantage, this isn’t really true. Whites still “enjoy”‘ an advantage as things are that much worse for blacks and latinos comparatively. In an absolute sense things are getting worse.

    Nod to Zachary Smith for mentioning Sayre’s Law.

    What we have going on is nothing more than daily life in any third world country. What else to call USA when it costs more to have health insurance for a family than the average mortgage. Jobs are tight, resource extraction and selling off of any remaining commons are the norm. There will never be an industrial economy that can provide close to full employment without heaps of low and mid skill jobs.

    As we become more post industrial the employment patterns will look more like the pre industrial – fewer people needed in the active economy, and most living subsistence lifestyles. Unfortunately we haven’t figured out how to do subsistence living in our current income/property tax funded/outdated industrial government. Until we do this isn’t going to improve, large numbers of jobs aren’t going to reappear no matter what Trump does.

    People with stagnant or declining income are being bled white when they should be padding for retirement. It is dangerous to assemble and petition the govt for redress. Our Presidential choices were between a buffoon and a crook. LE, intelligence services and Presidential use of the military all operate with little oversight and much impunity. This is not much different from many places in Central and South America where the US shapes the economic and political landscape. And I’m sure the (soon to be failed) promises of Trump or Clinton would be right at home in the political discourse there as well.

    When the future looks more bleak than the present, and there seems no way to turn the ship around, suicide isn’t such a crazy alternative, even if done through willful neglect or substance abuse.

  2. Elizabeth Conley
    December 18, 2016 at 07:53

    This article neglects the shared economic plight of American workers of all races. This isn’t a race problem, it’s a citizenship problem. The U.S. government is supposed to work for the citizens of the U.S.

    It was in the best interests of the DNC and employers to import hordes of foreign workers and illegal aliens. It would have been in the best interests of U.S. workers to solve the need for a larger labor force with automation and innovation and to improve public education until the need for foreign workers was vanishingly rare.

    I am sick unto death of the divisive blather about race. Just because most whites see the solution differently than most blacks doesn’t mean we won’t all benefit from more full-time, decent paying jobs for U.S. citizens, as well as schools and social welfare programs that aren’t overburdened.

    THIS IS NOT A ZERO SUM GAME! All American citizens, Black, White, Latino, Asian, Native American and more, will benefit from better educations and better employment prospects. If we can just end the torment of the countless over-qualified workers forced to hustle three or more miserable part-time, low-paying, no-benefit jobs, the benefit will be enormous.

    It is heartbreaking to read these snide remarks about how “racist” whites are the only people who have suffered and long for relief from Obama-care, a decline of wages and the horrific scarcity of full-time employment. The pain is real, and EVERYONE sliding out of the middle class, working past retirement or simply giving up and dropping from the workforce is under horrible pressure.

    • backwardsevolution
      December 19, 2016 at 06:14

      Elizabeth – good comments on your two posts!

  3. backwardsevolution
    December 17, 2016 at 17:16

    Illegal immigrants:

    “But it would be a mistake to equate their desire for someone to secure the border with support for mass deportation or other hardline policies that would both devastate the economy and undermine core American values.”

    Oh, yeah, like these filthy rich business leaders are concerned about “core American values”! Riiiiight. They want the cheap labor, they want new renters for the thousands of distressed properties they bought up for a song from the homeowners who went backrupt in 2008. They want more customers for Walmart and 7-11.

    Read this article and take a good hard look at these ancient relics talking about their “concern” for illegals. Their only concern is to ensure their ability to use these illegals, profit off of them, and of course saddle the American taxpayers with the costs.

    These pseudo-benevolent rich businessmen form associations to fight deportation, amass large sums of money for the fight, and then employ and “use” the progressive left to do the heavy lifting of protesting, making signs, shouting out slogans of “racism” and “bigotry”, and their friends in the media make sure to cover it all. These businessmen call up the very politicians they paid off during the last election to do their bidding, to vote against Trump.

    A simple plan: throw lots of money, tears and slogans around, and all so the rich businessmen can make more profit. All done under the guise of being humanitarian, when that is the farthest thing from their minds.

    The .01% team up with the progressive left to screw the rest of the country. Now, that’s democracy!

    • Elizabeth Conley
      December 18, 2016 at 08:07

      I too am cynical about the supposed “American values” at stake in sending the illegal immigrants home. The employers love having a workforce that is afraid to demand decent wages, benefits and treatment. For the employers, illegal immigrants and work visa holders are the new slaves, so much less trouble than the old slaves.

      The Left wing politicians see voters and political power to reshape the U.S. any way they want. They don’t much care what happens to their old constituents, nor do they particularly care about the new ones they’re trying to acquire. For them it’s all about power. They think the new constituents will be easier to manipulate than the old ones. Perhaps they’re right.

  4. Rob
    December 17, 2016 at 13:15

    And when Trump’s agenda of further enriching the rich and immiserating everyone else finally takes hold, will his disappointed legions hold him accountable? It’s doubtful. Rather, as authoritarian followers, they will place blame on Obama and the Democrats for their deepening woes. Let’s face it. People who will accept such utter nonsense as the claim that Obama and Hillary Clinton created ISIS will accept anything they are told to believe.

    • backwardsevolution
      December 17, 2016 at 16:37

      Rob – wow, people like you actually do exist. Do you think that the millions who voted for Obama are holding him responsible? You bet they are! He did absolutely nothing, aside from further enriching the 1%. He didn’t even jail them. The country has been going down hill ever since Reagan (if not before), going deeper and deeper into debt. Clinton started the offshoring of jobs nonsense, and the rest kept it going. Clinton deregulated Wall Street, and the rest kept it going. They’re all to blame.

      And, yes, under Obama’s reign ISIS grew, aided and abetted by funding and training and arming by the U.S. and its puppets, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, most likely at the behest of that evil little country, Israel. Hitlery is solely responsible for the murder of Gaddafi, a leader who provided free education, free medical/dental to his citizens.

      They’re all evil, all of them, Obama included. Coups, interventions, meddling in foreign affairs/elections, overthrowing. Of course, the politicians are just following orders from above. Whose money is buying the politicians? Follow that trail.

  5. Anon
    December 17, 2016 at 07:28

    This article strangely advances the right-wing propaganda line against the poor, that they are fat, lazy, and incompetent. No, there are always such people, but in the US people get more than middle-class incomes by luck or lack of ethics, and they get less than middle-class incomes by being unlucky, either in family and community of their upbringing, in economic change, or personal health and business losses. Blaming their choices is obviously wrong, because their choices are limited and controlled by others.

    The people need income support coupled with job training, employment stability, and economic stability laws. They need universal health care. They need an end to the many corrupt oligarchy influences upon mass media by requiring its support by individual contributions. None of that need be indulgent of laziness or incompetence.

    It is not only the poor who are depressed by the destruction of democracy by oligarchy. They are just the ones most directly threatened by that destruction. Let us look forward eagerly to the era in which they attack the oligarchy directly, seizing their gated communities, directly attacking mass media and big business, organizing to destroy oligarchy and its enforcement dupes. Until then there is no hope for democracy and no hope for America.

    • Bill Bodden
      December 17, 2016 at 13:47

      Let us look forward eagerly to the era in which they attack the oligarchy directly, seizing their gated communities, directly attacking mass media and big business, organizing to destroy oligarchy and its enforcement dupes.

      Unfortunately, violent revolutions run the risk of being disastrous for the innocent as much as the guilty. However, if the ruling entities fail to create some measure of justice, including economic justice, then a violent revolution may be inevitable.

  6. Kalen
    December 17, 2016 at 02:07

    There is 100% anti-correlation between longevity and poverty, 100% while authors are trying to split the hair this is the horrendous social/economic inequality resulting from a vicious class war between ruling oligarchic elite and middle class and poor that is main culprit.

    These are victims of vicious class war authors are really talking about and if you look at true statistics US mainstream economic collapse and collapse of life expectancy between 25 and 55 is consistent with low to mid intensity hot war similar to most civil wars where exactly this age group is actively involved it.

    Also US massive spending on system security apparatus including military in the US not counting foreign wars
    is consistent with war spending as they teach in any War College 101 war economics class.

    In facts it was class war that torn apart black communities under the guise of racism, while in fact it was war on poor in the community that was mostly immune to the US patriotic propaganda of white supremacy having pass among themselves from generation to generation the reality of US regime epitomized by its inhumane foundation of slavery.

    Beside a class struggle without which nothing could be really understood, there is much deeper social process that is involved here that relates to dramatic increase social diseases like crime, mental illness and drug abuse and desperation it is exactly what Dr T. Kaczynski formerly from University of California at Berkeley called a disruption of social power cycle or disruption of social life cycle.

    Those West Virginia people have been alienated from American society and abandoned, sadly also by so called leftist consumed with technological progress as a inevitable process betraying their responsibility for fighting for just, fair and more harmonious egalitarian society by means of inclusion (not exclusion) of all the people as important and valuable to the society regardless of their technological prowess.
    In fact peddling in reality, a phony technological progress pushed by new age oligarchs has become a tool of class war. And the bloody results is what we see in statistics, quiet brilliant genocide of poor, as quiet as another brilliant genocide of Indians that started centuries ago and papered over in American psyche with insults to supposedly savage natives or to fat lazy, stupid people of Appalachia and elsewhere.

    Let’s not by this dehumanization of our brothers sisters or any other fellow human being who deserve human dignity and decent living within family, community that respect him/her.

    • Felix Navidad
      December 17, 2016 at 04:57

      “Those West Virginia people have been alienated from American society and abandoned”

      West Virginia leads the nation in oxycontin/oxycodone (a/k/a Hillbilly Heroin) abuse.

  7. David F., N.A.
    December 16, 2016 at 23:59

    While our realtors and finance officers were earning commissions from selling Walls Street inspired loans to home buyers who couldn’t afford them (AAA MBS?), our doctors were busy earning kickbacks from creating Purdue Pharma junkies. And now, thanks to the Afghan war and the Mexican cartel, there is plenty of heroin to go around (see, NAFTA does work).

  8. Zachary Smith
    December 16, 2016 at 19:50

    Charles Murray, whose critique of African-American intelligence in The Bell Curve earned him a racist reputation in some circles, turned his attention to working-class whites in his 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. Citing rising rates of chronic joblessness, crime, divorce, and alienation from churches, Murray said discouraged whites had lost touch with the “founding virtues” of America — industriousness, honesty, marriage, and religion. He blamed lax cultural standards rather than economic insecurity or deindustrialization for their woes, many of which he considers preventable and self-inflicted.

    The author neglects to mention that Charles Murray is a despicable POS. Murray’s nonsense about “lax cultural standards” is on the same academic level as “Black People Are Dumber Than Whites”.

    I want to get into another couple of omissions I noticed. The emphasis here was strictly “whites” The word “black” was used twice, while “white” was seen more than two dozen times. The other missing word or words has to do with Wealthy Inequality. The rich bastards shipped US jobs and factories overseas to make themselves even richer. The bottom 99.9 percent of Americans were left to fight it out for what was left. What we’re seeing is an everyday variation of Sayre’s Law – “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.” US workers are fighting for crap jobs in competition with even more desperate illegals. You think this isn’t something the employers don’t love?

    Whites are beginning to encounter what black citizens have been putting up with for the last century or longer. They’re learning what it’s like to be treated like dirt for pitiful pay, and with zero job security. US “official” unemployment rates are like the “official” US inflation rate – totally rigged numbers. You’re an average white guy who – in living memory – knew his white skin meant a leg up on the competition. All of a sudden jobs are so scarce that this isn’t true any more.

    Without much money Mr. White has to cut his spending. Cheap food = fatty/sugary food = obesity = unexpected and early health issues. Suddenly you have a health problem, and you don’t have any money OR an insurance policy which will cover the issue. Oh, your OBAMACARE policy will pay, after your X-hundred or thousand dollar deductible. But you can barely make rent payments. So you let the problem simmer. The bad teeth go untreated. Ditto the increasing blood pressure.

    Consider this next statement:

    Many factors appear to be operating simultaneously, including economic and social instability, high rates of tobacco and alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, depression, and deterioration of the health care system. Problems in data quality and reporting appear unable to account for these findings.

    That was Russia in the early and middle Nineties. Who was doing the dying then? The middle aged people, same as here in the US of A in 2016. Their nation collapsed, and this was made worse by the introduction by Bush Senior and Clinton of the Neoliberal doctrines where they helped the Russian Rich Bastards grab what was available from the Public Table and put it into their own pockets.

    Besides inadequate health care (same as here) the Russians tended to drink themselves to death. In Modern America we have legal and illegal drugs to sweep the path to the graveyard. Progress!

    President Trump isn’t going to help. In the first place, the man isn’t well educated. In the second, he’s a very wealthy fellow whose personal experience with hunger is almost certainly limited to the 1-2 days fasting before a colonoscopy. At 70 years of age he has also picked up all the right-wing intellectual baggage which Charles Murray would approve of. “Lots of jobs out there! They’re just too lazy, dishonest, and morally corrupt to go looking for them.”

    Would it be any different with President Hillary? Hell no! The US has gotten into the position we’re in with the assistance of Reagan, Bush Daddy, Bush the Dumber, and 8 years of Bill Clinton and another 8 of Barack Obama.

    The policies of the two parties leading the Top .1% getting always richer and everybody else fighting over the leftover crumbs haven’t differed enough to notice.

      December 17, 2016 at 04:22

      et cetera: Trump vows to ramp up the War on Drugs.

      Reagan’s opinion of the jobless: “There are plenty of listings in the Help Wanted classifieds.”

    • Diana Richardson
      December 17, 2016 at 13:10

      You have. pretty. much nailed it. Thank you. You must know. how widespread is the ignorance of what you write at least among white Americans, of which, alas, I appear to be one.

    • rosemerry
      December 18, 2016 at 16:06

      Great post!

    • Peter Loeb
      December 19, 2016 at 08:44


      Many thanks to Jonathan Marshall for his article as well as to Zachary Smith for his
      comment above.

      If anyone wants to feel the pain of the situation I recommend a careful
      reading of the following:

      For historical context—-

      1976). What Kolko found and wrote about did not gain him many friends among other
      liberal/progressives. So-called “liberals” continue to repeat
      the illusions and myths they have been taught to b elieve as sacred.

      To understand the pain:

      (Alfred A Knopf, 2006)

      This well-written book takes you into the lives of men and women of many different
      “classes”, their hopes and dreams, the wrecked family lives. It does not restrict
      itself to the poor and disadvantaged etc. but includes both high level
      and well trained manufactures and bankers…Forget the final paragraph
      (“Solutions”) which is piece in the sky.

      Take special note of the meaningless of education/training as experienced
      by workers. (Of course, if your education is as the son or daughter of
      someone who is already extremely well off, you will have “advantages”.
      A pundit the other day said that one must come “from a good neighborhood”
      to succeed. Is that another way of saying “white”? I wondered.

      You need this book.

      —Peter Loeb, Bopston, MA, USA

    • Giovanna Lepore
      December 21, 2016 at 20:55

      Excellent post. There is a way and that is socialism.

  9. bobzz
    December 16, 2016 at 18:51

    “We still don’t know what exactly is causing middle-aged white death rates to rise, but it seems that Donald Trump has adeptly channeled this white suffering into political support.”


  10. Brad Owen
    December 16, 2016 at 17:09

    The general policy of austerities, and Y-O-Y-O, general economic decline as jobs go off-shore, unaffordable health care, crappy food being cheaper than good food, the general anxiety over all of this leading to alcohol, drugs, suicide, etc….is the cause of shortened lifespans. It tracks along with general economic decline, rust belts, etc. Lyndon LaRouche forecasted all of this. I can see it with my own eyes, as I AM one of those blue-collar white guys. FDR New Deal for the forgotten ones is the answer. Kuchinich flew this banner. Sanders flew this banner. So did Jill Stein. So does the Green Party. WHEN will my fellow blue-collar white guys learn this lesson?

    • Diana Richardson
      December 17, 2016 at 13:02

      thank you for having the courage. to. point this. out.

      • Jeanna
        December 29, 2016 at 20:29

        Well said.

        I am a liberal Democrat so what I am going to say my seem contradictory to the Left’s typical views. Industrial decline is not a new phenomenon; it’s been slowly dying for 30+ years. Typical of blue collar workers, they blame everything on Democrats.

        So I turn and ask, “What are blue collar workers doing to improve their own situations? Are they going to a technical college to learn a new skill? Are they scraping money together to move to where work can be found? They are SO full of disdain for liberals yet they do nothing to improve their own situation.

        The United States is not going to revert to a huge industrial nation. It’s not going to happen. People need to move on–they need to invest in their future and gain employable skills. I live in Wisconsin, and I can tell you that there are vacant jobs because the companies can’t find skilled workers. Hell, they have a hard time finding people who can read past a 9th grade level. This may highly offend people but I don’t care. It’s true.

        Additionally, it’s about time blue collar workers put the blame where it belongs: Corporate greed and automation. I am amused that people actually believe Trump can keep companies in America. He can’t. And, he may well start a trade-war which is going to worsen things.

        I’ll end with this: You know his boasting about saving Carrier jobs and giving Carrier 7-8 million? Did you also hear the next part, which is the Carrier CEO said he is going to use Trump’s money to automate. The CEO said they will still be eliminating jobs. Guess that idea backfired.

    • Giovanna Lepore
      December 21, 2016 at 20:25

      Very true.

  11. Sally Snyder
    December 16, 2016 at 17:06

    Here is an article that explains why the headline unemployment rate is so inaccurate:

    From the perspective of millions of Americans, the economy simply is not as healthy as the Bureau of Labor Statistics would suggest.

  12. December 16, 2016 at 16:51

    Unfortunately, one significant factor in this earlier death-rate is being overlooked — so-called “Family” Courts in America. They have become anti-justice vigilante’s in robes, taking kids from fit Fathers and/or Mothers , sometimes to put them unnecessarily in Foster care and other times rendering the “non-custodial” parent and his family erased from the children’s lives. Stories of anguished parents fall on deaf ears, as lawyers, including legislators, turn their backs and disdainfully tell suffering parents that they are not interested in their “sour grapes” from Family Court. It is way past time to take an honest and detailed look at how the collusion between Family Court Judges and lawyers are destroying families while enriching themselves. This is a huge uncounted cost in the epidemic of suicide, homelessness, and addiction in this country.

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