October 06, 2009

All shook up

Engraving of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

Goat Rope has been running an occasional series lately about how things like inequality and social status affect health and mortality. Brief recap: they do; a lot; all across the board.

Some factors already examined include things like money and material conditions, while others have more to do with one's relative position within a given society. Another key factor is power, as in one's ability to have some control over what life throws at us.

Michael Marmot uses an interesting analogy in The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects our Health and Longevity,

Imagine that if you were caught in an earthquake you could simply turn it off. Earthquakes might, then, be part of life's rich tapestry instead of being an uncontrollable stress. Imagine further that your ability to turn it off depended on your place in the social hierarchy. High-status people could turn it off at will; low-status people could not affect it at all; and there were gradations of power over earthquakes from top to bottom of the social ladder. If stress led to illness, such differences in power could have a profound affect on the health gradient. Stress does, and differences in power do.

We've recently been reminded of the terrible power that real earthquakes have over people in areas prone to them. But metaphorical earthquakes, in the form of shocks over which we have little control and which we can't predict, happen all the time and people at the lower end of the money/status/power spectrum are the hardest hit.

More on this to come.

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Here are two items highlighting the need for action to create employment and here is something on the Obama administration's likely response.

PUBLIC OPTION. The administration has been quietly trying to build support for it, according to this McClatchy report.

SCORE A POINT FOR ZEN. Sometimes nonsense or things that defy rational expectations can jog creative thinking. El Cabrero feels vindicated.



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