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Our Struggles Are Not In Vain

If you look on TV, or social media, you will see wall-to-wall commercials calling this “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” A time of good humor and goodwill with family and friends, and where, most importantly, you demonstrate your love for them through consumer spending on that perfect gift. In a struggling economy like ours, however, ever-rising prices, coupled with stagnating wages mean that this time of year and its spending excess brings with it little cheer, only more stress and worry for the future.


That future felt particularly bleak when recent headlines highlighted that Millennial women are the first generation since before the baby boomers experiencing worse outcomes and living shorter lives than their parents. ““While there have been some areas of generation-to-generation improvement, millennials are the first generation of women since the (so-called) Silent Generation who are seeing declines in overall well-being based on our index,” says Sara Srygley, a research analyst at Population Reference Bureau, with these trends unsurprisingly exacerbated among women of color. This sort of massive, generational decline can give one the sense that fighting For A Better Tomorrow has all been in vain. When we see rising pollution, rising climate crises, rising costs for necessities, rising hatred for the other, and the only thing that seems to not be rising are American wages it easy to feel hopeless and think changing for the better, at least at scale a futile endeavor.


Look a little deeper, though, and you will see that the fight is not, in fact, quite as futile as one might believe. Several new studies have started examining at the state level growing disparities in health and wellbeing outcomes over several decades crossed with which party was in control and which policies were enacted. Unsurprising to anyone who's read this email, it was found that states controlled by conservative legislatures enacting conservative public policy agendas produce significantly worse outcomes in the health and wellbeing of their citizenry than those states that enacted more progressive policies agendas. Policies like raising the minimum wage, improving childcare, and expanding Medicaid were noted as particularly important. Even on seemingly hopeless issues, like gun violence, state policies can have real effects

 

So just how important was it to pass progressive policies? States like Connecticut and Oklahoma show just what a difference policy choices can make. In the early 1970’s both states’ life expectancies were 71 years, now Connecticut residents can expect to live 81 years, whereas Oklahoma’s citizens can only expect 75. Republican politicians in their apathy and ignorance, in their thoughtless pursuit of self-enrichment have stolen 6 years of life from their constituents. Such actions amount to a nearly unimaginable crime and a profound and enraging tragedy, but simultaneously show us the power of good governance. Enacting progressive policies can indeed lead to more health, wealth, and possibility for all citizens.


We must remember that it is not futile to fight for a better tomorrow, especially when, as we’ve discussed time and again at DSOT, these aren’t fringe policies, but popular measures supported by wide majorities of Americans. We know that these policies work, the experiment has already been done, now it's time to build not just political power, but an economic cudgel to make sure that our policy makers listen to the people instead of pursuing their own self-enrichment. So join us each Tuesday, in growing solidarity, to get the policies that all Americans want and deserve to begin living the full measure of their lives, not having them cut short from other’s greed.



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