Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Friday, August 14, 2009

Decline of the American male

Decline of the American male

The recession has been particularly unkind to men and has larger implications for their health, safety and well-being. The Obama administration should address this disparity.

By David Zincenko

Like most Americans, I look at the news about the economy, the need for health care reform and our growing national debt, and I worry about how we're going to escape the recession.

But as someone who has spent his career working to save an endangered species men I have another worry on my mind: What are we going to do about the Great He-cession?

(Illustration by Keith Simmons/USA TODAY)

This troubling trend has been going on for several years, but it really picked up speed at the end of 2008. Of the 5.2 million people who've lost their jobs since last summer, four out of five were men. Some experts predict that this year, for the first time, more American women will have jobs than men. And that's just furthering the decline of the endangered male.

Consider this: A 2007 government survey found that of the 36.8 million American adults who lack health insurance, 56% are men. But given the tremendous percentage of lost jobs that were held by men, that number could skyrocket. For family men, at least, there's a built-in safety net: The preponderance of two-career couples means that women, and their secure jobs, often provide the benefits. It's men who are single or divorced and who, studies show, live shorter lives than their married brethren who now make up the largest segment of the unemployed and uninsured. The impact of this in the form of untreated illness and injury will follow single men around for a generation.

As the Obama administration contemplates its strategy for health care reform, it isn't just the unemployed and uninsured we need to keep in mind. We need an overhaul of the system to take care of the hardworking people who do hold on to their jobs and pay a dear price for it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men make up the majority of those injured on the job. In the manufacturing, mining and construction fields, 86% of workplace injuries and illnesses occur to men and 92% of workplace-related deaths are men as well.

5 fewer years to live

And let's remember our injured vets: 98% of the Iraq wounded are men, and for many of them, their war-related health problems will continue for a lifetime.

Psychological issues again, often left untreated because of a lack of employment and insurance affect men in much greater numbers, as well. Almost 70% of homeless adults are men, and the suicide rate for young men is five times that of young women.

These factors help explain why, in 2006, the average American male could expect to live 5.1 fewer years than the average woman; a black American male will likely live 11 fewer years than a white American woman. (By contrast, in 1920 men and women could expect to enjoy about the same lifespan.)

Despite the overwhelming evidence that men are being left behind, the U.S. government has never made a concerted effort to address male health issues. Right now, there are seven (seven!) offices of women's health in the U.S. government: six in the Department of Health and Human Services and one in the Department of Agriculture. And the Pentagon makes huge investments in women's health research. Yet there is not a single federal organization that encourages and disseminates physical and mental health research for and about men.

It's payback time

One argument for funding so many health service organizations targeted to those citizens who already enjoy the best health, the most insurance, the longest lifespan, and the safest and most plentiful jobs that would be women is that it's payback time. Medical research in the past has been conducted primarily on men, and (theoretically, at least), men got the benefits of that research, so women need the opportunity to catch up.

Obviously, however, the life-expectancy totals don't bear that out. Women have gained in the past century, while men have fallen behind. And saying men benefit from being experimented upon is like envying the lab rats for their medical careers. Men especially soldiers, prisoners and minorities have been research subjects because they were, in some sense, expendable. And men can't become pregnant, another reason why bombarding the bodies of women with untested chemicals and other therapies is frowned upon, while doing the same to men often elicits little more than shrugs.

The Obama administration showed great eagerness in addressing the problems of women soon after it took office, with the establishment of the White House Council on Women and Girls. We applaud that move, and we now look for equal time for the males of the species.

So as momentum for health care reform builds and melds with the president's economic agenda, let's think about the Americans who are most likely to face unemployment, a lack of insurance, and the untreated physical and psychological problems that make their lives that much shorter and harder. In other words, let's think about men. It's about time we caught a break, and a he-covery would be just the thing.

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