By John Ballard
...The wider the income gap in a country, the worse its life expectancy.
For close to a century, public-health researchers have been tracking this strange correlation. In countries with narrow gaps between richest and poorest, everyone lives longer. In countries with wide gaps, people die sooner. Every social class is healthier than the one below it, and sicker than the one above it.
National wealth and medical spending don't seem to matter. According to the World Health Organization, Cuba spent $230 per capita on health care in 2004. The U.S. spent $6,096 per capita. But Cuba has a lower infant-mortality than the U.S., and Cuban life expectancy, at 78.3 years, is just ahead of the Americans' 78.2. � So the U.S. ranks first in health spending and 38th in life expectancy. Canada spends just half of what the Americans do ($3,038 per capita), but we rank 11th in life expectancy at 80.3.
Some narrow-gap countries do tax the rich, but it doesn't go to the poor in one-time cheques. In fact, countries like Iceland and Japan don't seem to have many really poor people. That's because taxes support a solid infrastructure of housing, education and health care.
The problem is not the poor robbing the rich through taxes, but the rich robbing the poor through tax cuts that wreck the infrastructure. And the rich have to the chutzpah to tell us that this robbery is the way to prosperity for all.