Poverty Wiped Out Life Expectancy Plummets

You often hear that the privileged are at fault for inequality because they selfishly tolerate poverty, thus preventing minorities from getting an education, good housing, proper health care or a decent paying job. Look at the Indians on reservations, living at subsistence levels.

For example the Colville Indian Reservation in Okanogan County Washington which ranks in the top 10 in a five-year average of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, and juvenile arrests for alcohol violations. Okanogan County had 62 drug- or alcohol-related deaths out of 367 total deaths in 2006.

“-- Addiction knows no bounds,” said Ben Descoteaux, behavioral health program manager for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. He said income levels are more likely to play a role in addiction problems. “If you look at the economic data of the county, or the unemployment rate — those figures are some of the highest,” he said.

But, what would happen if poverty were to be wiped out?

See this link:

With annual revenues from casinos and other businesses that have topped $1.4 billion, the tribe provides each of its 3,300 members with an income of about $120,000 a year, a free education and a guaranteed job. And many college-educated Seminoles are coming home to work in the tribe's Hollywood headquarters.

Despite these positive developments, young Seminoles die at an alarming rate from drug overdoses, alcohol-involved car crashes and suicide.”

The stunning thing about this situation is that the life expectancy of tribe members actually decreased since casinos began operation. The average age of a Seminole at death has dropped from 59.7 years old in 1997, similar to the rate on many reservations, to 48.5 in 2007, an analysis of state records shows.

“A recent spike in accidental deaths among tribal members, along with a troubling school dropout rate and an eroding work ethic, is linked to growing prosperity, many Seminoles believe.

Simmons, who as a teenager went through years of drug use and rebellion, said she sees a correlation between money and excess.

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Why do you think this is the case?

If socioeconomic status doesn't explain it, what does?

One possibility stems from the fact that life on the rez sucks. People turn to alcohol.

I've also read that Native Americans are particularly susceptible to alcohol addiction because there isn't a long tradition of drinking alcohol (like among Mediterranean peoples) to weed out susceptible ancestors. Not sure how much evidence there is for this theory.

Problems With Reservation Life

It is said that the reason for problems on the reservation is economic deprivation. If this is cured and the problem gets worse it seems to show that the reservation system itself is a toxic way of life.

Indians who live out on the economy and are integrated into society don’t have these problems, for the most part. I have known a few of them and they are literally just like you and me. Living off welfare no matter how cushy does not seem to work.This is good news for the tax payer. Instead people need to work, pursue aesthetics, do for others, pursue knowledge, engage in athletic competition, or some other goal requiring long term effort on their part to find meaning. Even if they had to subsist off the land like they did in the past by hunting,fishing and farming, they would be better off. The reservation offers life based on handouts, which is a terrible way to live.

The problem of alcohol and drugs is not well explained, as far as I know. For some reason Indians have to drink all their alcohol at once, for unknown reasons, or so I have read.

If having less handout makes

If having less handout makes you better off, would the original Indians have been better off if an illness decimated bisons, the rain halved, and the winter became much colder?

From the perspective of the receiver, a welfare handout is not distinguishable from a gift of nature. That's why I don't buy this paternalistic argument against welfare.

Welfare requires idleness

I do not know whether it applies to the Indians, but in other cases I have read about, welfare requires that a person be out of work. It encourages what it rewards. This is not the same as a gift of nature because nature does not say that a person must remain idle in order to receive its gift. Welfare furthermore sometimes (always?) requires a certain kind of idleness: the person must demonstrate that he is making an effort to be employed. But there is a difference between being seen to make an effort, and genuinely making an effort. Someone who wants to continue to receive welfare will rationally cultivate the characteristics of unemployability. He will shape himself into a person who is unemployable.

Just a couple of thoughts off the top of my head. I really have no knowledge of the situation on reservations and don't mean to imply anything about them, just mentioning some possibilities.

One speculation, posed as a question: can just anybody freely go and live on a reservation? Can I pick up and go move there? I have no provable Indian ancestry. Another question: in order to receive the money, must an Indian live on the reservation? Or can he move to France or Hong Kong and still receive his check and can his children also receive their check? Depending on how these questions are answered, then the reservation welfare might in effect require disconnectedness from the wider society.

Too Much Liberty?

The reason this topic is appearing here, presumably, is what this dynamic says about libertarianism – specifically, Is Too Much Liberty Harmful? Economist Herschel Kasper argues that leisure is a normal good: at the margin people tend to want more of it, but beyond some point it becomes a burden – even a crushing burden.

We needn’t focus on Native Americans to analyze this issue. What happens to lottery winners? Famous athletes and performers? Affluent families that pursue the American Dream and move to a giant house on massive acreage, far from any intrusive neighbors? People (especially men) in comfortable retirement, especially if they move away from their previous homes?

Clearly, LOTS of thing happen. But we regularly hear antidotes about how people who suddenly find themselves with the financial resources to live without relying on any social support network then sever those ties, and later discover they lack the non-financial resources to live that way.

I’m suspicious of such stories. They smack of a morality tale about how the other half lives, told to assuage our envy. But the story is so familiar that I find myself entirely unsurprised by the account of the Seminoles.

Lincoln remarked, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” The power to be unconstrained by your neighbors’ opinions can be quite liberating. But surely your neighbors are not all fools, and on balance the ends to which social pressures guide us are probably good or else society would have perished by now. Even Hayek concluded that successful libertarian governance depends upon people conforming to some degree of social convention, no matter how mindless.

I suspect that people differ in their capacity to handle affluence – some people have the internal “stuff” to handle it; some don’t. But this conclusion arguably poses a problem for libertarianism: Should we structure society to optimize the welfare of those who can handle liberty, even if they are a minority? Or should we structure it for the benefit of the majority, even if this entails impinging upon everyone’s autonomy?

That is some good shit right there

nobody really
how about yous register and get yourself a real alias and start making some posts?

Maybe we are all that way

The reason I posted this is because it brings into question the commonplace explanations for societal problems and their solutions. I happen to think that much of what"they" say,especially in the media is BS. I was almost about to describe the phenomenon as the "Mike Tyson" phenomenon. It seems counter intuitive that wealth would actually make one less happy. People who slowly earn their wealth over a life time tend to do better,but not always.

I recall a niece driving me through a very affluent Houston neighborhood and pointing out the crazy and crooked neighbors living all over the place. She is rich too but not fuc -ed up. My wife also has been in contact with some rich trust babies. They are equally pitiful in some cases.Maybe we are all fuc-ed up except for you and me.

The traditional American Indian social contract

as far as I understand is closer to a pure communism than anything any Marxist has been able to produce. They traditionally hammer down the nail that stands proud. I may be wrong. Would not be the first time.

People project their ideological views on American Indians

I do not know enough about American Indians to know whether they were in fact communistic, but I do know that people with an ideological axe to grind have a history of projecting their utopian visions onto American Indians and other relatively unknown cultures.

Example one: Seattle's Speech.

Example two: Coming of Age in Samoa. (A bit of googling suggests Mead still has a lot of defenders. It's up to the reader, then, to decide who's right.)

Disrespecting fake indians

Hate to be disrespectful of an imaginary indian but this stuff always struck me as bogus.

"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?

Did the guy who invented this speech actually under the delusion that anyone at the time had any concerns about buying the sky? In modern times I guess you could interpret that as buying radio frequencies and airline routes.

Does this guy also think Indians were against geothermal?

I think the first draft of this went "How can you buy or sell the land..." but that sounded so ridiculous that our imaginary indian needed something we could all agree was not an economic good.

"The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?"

That's better. I can understand it's hard to sell air since it isn't a scarce good. That is unless you are under water. In which case bottled air is something you could sell. In fact, I've bought such air when scuba diving. So this air thing is moving in the right direction.

What seals the deal and makes this about trying to buy a non-economic good is the fact is that he's isn't talking about direct purchases of air. He's talking about buying a quality of some air, the freshness. Well he's got me there. You can't really buy the freshness of the air. You can buy fresh air, and you can buy air fresheners, but not the abstract quality of "freshness".

Same goes for sparkle. I don't know about sparkle.

I think perhaps the writer has gone too far at this point. He's now painted Chief Seattle as a complete ignoramous on what white people believe. Were indians so stupid as to believe that the white man was going around trading in the abstract qualities of freshness and sparkle?

"Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.

That must make things real hard during mosquito season. Unless you say a little prayer after each swat.

The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man."

Now I understand why the local church has pancake breakfasts. I always thought it was about money, but now I see it's about understanding the red man. Do Indians really refer to themselves as 'red men' or just liberals?

"You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers.
Ooo... gross.

"The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars.

Assuming that actually means something it shows a pretty bigoted attitude.

Our dead never forget this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man."

Oh, I see, Indians are superior to white men. Presumably white men are born on some other planet and don't belong here.

Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.

Wouldn't that make eating venison a kind of fratricidal cannibalism?

The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.

My guess is here that the author believe that indians didn't know about the song "One of these things is not like the other".

"So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us."

Wait a second here. I understand that some Indian lands were purchased but wasn't it also standard operating procedure just to steal their lands also?

"The Great White Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us."

Wow, this is such an confused interpretation of how and another person might think that it's extremely hard to swallow. You mean to tell me that the guy who wrote this though an indian would both believe the land sacred, and be in full knowledge he was going to be forced onto a reservation where his people would be patronized, and the only thing he was considering is whether to sell some land?

One would think he'd express a little more outrage and certainly not frame this operation as some kind of real estate deal.

"This shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors.

Sounds like the author was thinking Catholic here. Sacred blood and all.

If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events in the life of my people. The waters murmur is the voice of my father's father."

The author has now abandoned all pretense. This is now all about teaching his fellow white man, no human, let alone indian, would be worried about such things when his land is being stolen from him.

... So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin.

That the earth is a human compost pile is suppose to generate respect?

Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth."

Who's he talking to here?

"If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves."

Which leads me to wonder where the writer of this thinks the Indians when to the bathroom.

What a silly hash the whole thing was.

So what's the status on the belief that the Indians worshipped each animal as they ran them in mass off a cliff? Anyone buy that?