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  • Writer's pictureericjcarrig

Is overall health behind our divisive political climate?

Photo by Hande-Yavuz at Pexels

Interconnected forces like poor food quality, limited access to healthcare, inadequate public education, and insufficient wages have created communities characterized by poor physical and mental health, violent crime, incarceration, unemployment and drug and alcohol abuse.

The result is lost productivity, dissatisfaction with life and our economic and political systems, and increasing social and financial costs of managing and caring for more and more Americans. That just makes the political climate more divisive. Improving the situation will require working together and aligning around shared goals and values.

We spoke with Ted Smith, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology

and The Director, Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil at the University of Louisville.

The more unhealthy people and communities there are in the United States, the more we all pay. Whether it is violence in our cities or insurrections at our nation’s Capitol or higher healthcare costs, or homelessness, or incarceration rates. Americans pay in money, safety, and freedom as more places become undesirable places to live and visit.

The idea of helping people establish a baseline of health to restore these communities is stuck in a debate over whether and how to fund the array of supports people need to live healthy lives.

Some say that’s socialism and people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Others say, these people and communities don’t have boot straps. They say that capitalism no longer exists because competition has been allowed to die at the hands of monopolies.

Further, any notion of sharing wealth seems to be gone, as we seem to feel threatened that someone is going to take we we have or deserve.

The solution is not as simple as solving for one issue. They are all integrated. We can look to history, work together, and change how we live to build healthier communities, and therefore, a healthier nation.

Working together can be done. Americans rallied together to defeat Nazi Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II.

Capitalism and socialism have always co-existed in the United States. After World War II, The Federal Government helped people buy houses and pay for their education. It started Social Security in 1935, and started Medicare in 1965.

Like a world war, improving the health of all these unhealthy communities requires sacrifice and sharing. Are we up to the task?

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