“The Body Economic:Why Austerity Kills”

14 May (LPAC) The New York Times today published an op-ed by two researchers from Oxford University and Stanford University who have published a book, due out May 21, documenting that the austerity policies of the IMF and the Troika kill. The authors of The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, summarized their findings today in the Times, documenting that the countries that resisted harsh IMF conditionalities and instead implemented gradual debt payments to avert cuts in social safety net programs survived and even eventually prospered, while every country that adopted the harsh IMF and Troika policies suffered skyrocketing suicide rates, collapsed life expectancy and other forms of increase in death rates.

EIR has a pre-publication copy and will be providing its own review soon.

The authors of the Times op-ed cited, among a number of examples, the case of the United States under FDR:

“America’s experience of the Depression is also instructive. During the Depression, mortality rates in the United States fell by about 10 percent. The suicide rate actually soared between 1929, when the stock market crashed, and 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. But the increase in suicides was more than offset by the epidemiological transition: improvements in hygiene that reduced deaths from infectious diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia and influenza; and by a sharp drop in fatal traffic accidents, as Americans could not afford to drive. Comparing historical data across states, we estimate that every $100 in New Deal spending per capita was associated with a decline in pneumonia deaths of 18 per 100,000 people; a reduction in infant deaths of 18 per 1,000 live births; and a drop in suicides of 4 per 100,000 people.

“Our research suggests that investing $1 in public health programs can yield as much as $3 in economic growth. Public health investment not only saves lives in a recession, but can help spur economic recovery. These findings suggest that three principles should guide responses to economic crises.”

The authors cited Iceland and Malaysia as two other success stories, where the government repudiated IMF demands and rejected cuts in social services. In both instances, public health data showed stability, where in Russia, Greece, and the United States under Obama’s sequestration all suffered serious increases in suicides and other premature deaths.

While the United States, so far, has not gone through the same rate of collapse as Greece, the situation is getting worse. The authors reported:

“Initially, the 2009 stimulus package shored up the safety net. But there are warning signs beyond the higher suicide rate that health trends are worsening. Prescriptions for antidepressants have soared. Three-quarters of a million people (particularly out-of-work young men) have turned to binge drinking. Over 5 million Americans lost access to health care in the recession because they lost their jobs (and either could not afford to extend their insurance under the COBRA law or exhausted their eligibility). Preventive medical visits dropped as people delayed medical care and ended up in emergency rooms. (President Obama’s health care law expands coverage, but only gradually.)

“The $85 billion sequester that began on March 1 will cut nutrition subsidies for approximately 600,000 pregnant women, newborns and infants by years end. Public housing budgets will be cut by nearly $2 billion this year, even while 1.4 million homes are in foreclosure. Even the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nations main defense against epidemics like last years fungal meningitis outbreak, is being cut, by at least $18 million.”

The book , by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu is to be published by Penguin http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9781846147838/body-economic-why-austerity-kills-and-what-we-can-do-about-it

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