Friday, 29 August 2008

Poverty and Longevity

The BBC are prattling on about poverty and longevity at the moment (hat tip rob in the comments section under a post at Devils Kitchen). I suspect this report is a result of the BBC sending people up to The Undiscovered Country of Glasgow East during the recent by-election.

The BBC appears to be confusing correlation with causation, or even Post Hoc fallacy - "they are poor and then have a short life, so poverty causezittinnit?"

It might be that the bad choices/attitudes etc that shorten life are the same that entrench poverty. I know where I'd put my money. Poor people can live a long time, in fact in Japan, a low calorie diet caused by food shortages (especially red meat) increases longevity.

Powerlessness might shorten life, that makes sense - powerlessness builds deep levels of stress and lack of hope, lack of a future. What do you think the biological carbon unit would do if hope is taken away, or rather what would a body try and do if hope existed, even in extremely harsh circumstancs? I know what, it would want to live at any cost. Remove hope, remove the reason to live, shorten life. It is pretty logical. Biggest contributor to removal of hope and entrenching a sense of powerlessness? (drumroll) The Welfare State, Ladies and Gentlemen, in all its infantilising glory.

It is not poverty that shortens peoples' lives in my opinion, it is the unintended (?) consequences of the Welfare State.

4 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

And how to fix the UC's of the Welfare State - via a Citizen's Income scheme (which, as I have said before, need not cost more in 'cash terms' than the existing Welfare State, which is only 10% of GDP (including pensions, housing benefit, tax credits, child benefit, admin costs, the whole bloody lot, but excluding the tax-free personal allowance).

Workings here.

Roger Thornhill said...

But what about the UCs of the CBI?

William Gruff said...

'In [your] opinion'? In my opinion you are talking through your arse.

Roger Thornhill said...

william,

Thankyou for your enlightened comments.

Maybe you think the Welfare State has not entrenched social immobility, bred dependency and thus helplessness and despondency. Maybe you think it has not locked people in multi-generational worklessness.

Look past the symptoms (poverty) and see the root cause.