suicide and bars, hiding social darwinism behind civility


Too many bars in rural America linked to high suicide rates instead of idyllic life

There is a strong relationship between drinking and taking one’s own life. In any given year, people with alcohol dependence (AD) commit more than 20 percent of suicides in the general population; some 80 to 90 percent of AD suicides are by men, mostly white. A new look at suicide and alcohol has found that both attempted and completed suicides occur at greater rates in rural communities with greater bar densities.

[  ]…The results showed that completed suicides were more common in less populous zip-code areas, such as rural communities, and in zip-code areas with larger proportions of older, lower-income whites, but less common in zip code areas with larger proportions of blacks and Hispanics. Suicide attempts were also more common in rural zip codes, but those who attempted suicide were younger, and included blacks and Hispanics as well as whites.

“This suggests that the suicide rate is higher in rural areas,” said Johnson. “The absolute count of suicides may be higher in urban areas because of their much greater population compared to rural areas, but the rate of suicides, the number of suicides per population, is greater in rural areas.”

Just in case, for those that might not be familiar with the terminology, when he say “number of suicides per population” he means the rate per capita, i.e. for instance 2 alcohol relate suicides per year for each 1000 residents. The researchers suggest caution in interpreting the results. One saying it might not be the bars themselves, but the combination of bars and rural isolation. Though they still conclude that bar density and completed high completed suicides rates are related. The fact that many small towns loss many of their young, who move way to find work might also be a factor. One issue with these findings might be the lack of comparison to other businesses or institutions. In the south and rural west the density of churches per capita is higher then other parts of the country.

The South’s rate of churches of 15.4 per 10,000 residents was followed by the Mountain West at 14.2, the Midwest at 13.6, the Far West at 7.85 and the Northeast at 7.5.

Not to be facetious, but it appears on the surface that areas that have high suicide rates also have a higher church density. I wonder if the researchers are not skipping some intermediate cause and effect. Maybe the train of physiological effects is frequently sad to very depressed thoughts. Then drinking, which exacerbates the depression, which leads to suicide. Drinking does tend to cloud judgment, including reasoning about how to resolve one’s problems. We’re left wondering about the lack of comparisons to other facilities or businesses. Are suicides lower where there are bars and an equal number of churches. Are suicides lower where there is one public mental health facility and five bars.

They also mention that the suicide rate in rural areas tends to go up as the rate of firearm possession goes up and that the long known trend of high suicide rates for those over sixty years old continues.

soft landing

Via The Sideshow, REAGAN WAS A LENINIST. Its one of those sly observations that unfolds as you read so no excerpts.

The NYT’s David Brooks is generally civil, but I almost prefer the honesty of the looney toon miscreants with their crazy signs – Slide Show: The Far-Right Fringe. David tries to hide his social Darwinism behind urbane gentility,

And it has always had the same morality, which the historian Michael Kazin has called producerism. The idea is that free labor is the essence of Americanism. Hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways, are the moral backbone of the country. In this free, capitalist nation, people should be held responsible for their own output. Money should not be redistributed to those who do not work, and it should not be sucked off by condescending, manipulative elites.

Who are these lazy non-producers that are benefiting from the productive. Would that be George W. Bush who was an alcoholic for twenty years and failed miserably in business only to land gently into the safety net of his rich father after every failure. Would the wealth re distributors be the Wall Streeters who stole three trillion dollars from America’s economy, acting as though working people’s lives were nothing but poker chips. Bush didn’t hold Wall St responsible and neither need all the conservatives that voted for the original TARP. Republicans or more correctly right-wingers and libertarians were saying the same thing back in the thirties when FDR was lifting the nation out of an economic catastrophe. I’m not crazy about the way Obama is remaking a new version of Wall St, but he sure isn’t taking anything away from working Americans and distributing it to that mythical welfare queen that will forever live in the warped imaginations of people like Brooks and the tea baggers.

This is the paradox of the tea-party movement and other right-wing protests fueled by genuine citizen anger and fear.  It is true that the federal government embraces redistributive policies and that middle-class income is seized in order that “someone else benefits.”  But so obviously, that “someone else” who is benefiting is not the poor and lower classes — who continue to get poorer as the numbers living below the poverty line expand and the rich-poor gap grows in the U.S. to unprecedented proportions.  The “someone else” that is benefiting from Washington policies are — as usual  — the super-rich, the tiny number of huge corporations which literally own and control the Government.  The premise of these citizen protests is not wrong:  Washington politicians are in thrall to special interests and are, in essence, corruptly stealing the country’s economic security in order to provide increasing benefits to a small and undeserving minority.  But the “minority” here isn’t what Fox News means by that term, but is the tiny sliver of corporate power which literally writes our laws and, in every case, ends up benefiting.

It wasn’t the poor or illegal immigrants who were the beneficiaries of the Wall St. bailout; it was the investment banks which, not even a year later, are wallowing in record profits and bonuses thanks to massive taxpayer-funded welfare.  The endlessly expanding (and secret) balance sheet of the Federal Reserve isn’t going to fund midnight basketball programs or health care for Mexican immigrants but is enabling extreme profiteering by the very people who, just a year ago, almost brought the global economic system to full-scale collapse.  Our endless wars and always-expanding Surveillance State — fueled by constant fear-mongering campaigns against the Latest Scary Enemy — keep the National Security corporations drowning in profits, paid for by middle-class taxes.

In every modern U.S. administration regardless of party affiliation, corporations -banks – and military contractors gets the lion’s shared of redistributed wealth. The poor remain poor. They have no power unless David’s social Darwinism runs so deep that he is one of those that thinks the poor enjoy and deserve their poverty. The poor use their massive political power to stay poor. Some people believe in little fairies that sit on their shoulders and that the moon landing was a hoax, so Brooks and his ilk believe this poor leching off the honest working folks garbage decade after decade is no surprise.

The people who win when government acts aren’t the poor, minorities or illegal immigrants — the prime targets of these protesters’ resentment.  Their plight only worsens by the day.  In Washington, members of those groups are even more powerless than “middle-income Americans.”  That’s so obvious.  The people who win whenever the federal government expands its power are the ones who, through their massive resources and lobbyists armies, control what the government does:  the richest and most powerful corporations.  And yet — in an extreme paradox — those are the people who are venerated by the Right:  they simultaneously spew rage at what’s happening in Washington while revering and defending the interests of the oligarchs who are most responsible.

The middle-class lost ground under Bush Sr and Jr and under Reagan, as did the poor, but corporate America got a lot richer.

When Clinton left the number of Americans in poverty stood at 11.3 per cent; when Bush left that had increased to 13.2 per cent. The poverty rate for children jumped from 16.2 per cent when Clinton left office to 19 per cent when Bush stepped down.

Every one of those measurements had moved in a positive direction under Clinton. The median income increased from $46,603 when George H.W. Bush left office in 1992 to $52,500 when Clinton left in 2000-an increase of 14 per cent. The number of Americans in poverty declined from 38 million when the elder Bush left office in 1992 to 31.6 million when Clinton stepped down-a decline of 6.4 million or 16.9 per cent.

Republicans have a clear economic legacy. They reward wealth for its own sake. They see the wealthy as innately deserving of riches far beyond anything they actually earn. Those on the lower steps of the economic ladder, conservatives believe, belong there. Its economics as some bizarre religion that is totally disengaged from the realities of working class life. Healthcare industry spending $1.4 million – a day – on lobbyists and the tea baggers are more then happy to help with their corporate agenda. The working class Right has been working against their own best interests for years. Its what they do.