In an interview with NBC, psychiatrist and sociologist Jonathan Metzl said that “people are dying of whiteness.”
The basis for his theory is that in the years 2015, 2016, and 2017, life expectancy in America fell for the first time in the modern era during peacetime, especially among whites. What is Metzl’s explanation? In his book Dying of Whiteness: How Politics and Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, he says that “policies rooted in centering and maintaining the power of whiteness, are shortening the lives of the white Americans who vote for them.”
More than anything, such a statement speaks volumes about the anti-white racism that exists in the media and on the left. To illustrate this, imagine if the author had told an NBC reporter that “blacks in inner-city communities are dying of blackness.” He would have been crucified for blatant racism, and rightfully so.
More insidious, however, is the fact that he presents his hypothesis in a veneer of academic credibility. By merely slightly poking beneath the surface, his theory falls apart.
He claims that by comparing states, he found that the ones that didn’t implement the Obamacare expansion experienced falling life expectancy: “And because Tennessee didn’t do the expansion, that cost every white citizen in the state two to three weeks of life, just because of this ideology, and the reason: just non-expansion.”
The problem is that the increase in mortality comes almost exclusively from suicides. Unless every person kills themselves two to three weeks before their natural death, his claim is plainly false.
Good scholars immediately check their hypotheses against data from other countries to see if they find similar correlations. If he had looked at the U.K., he would have found that there too the life expectancy among men has been flatlining or falling in recent years. Unlike America, the Brits already have universal health care as part of their welfare system. Thus, lack of Obamacare is an unlikely explanation.
Another useful test of his hypothesis would have been to do a global study to find the effects of health care services on life expectancy in general. If he had done this, he would have uncovered the dirty secret of the health care industry: It has almost no effect on longevity.
Gapminder has a handy chart that shows life expectancy stacked up against government health expenditure per capita. Any amount above $1000 per capita has zero measurable effect. Similar results can be found for the number of physicians, hospital beds, and nurses per capita: zero effect on life expectancy in developed countries.
A proper statistical analysis shows that the two primary lifesavers are 1) enough nutritious food, and 2) sanitation – clean water, and sewage treatment. If people, in addition, have access to basic medical services like vaccines, a few doctors, and midwives, there is little more to gain from the health care system in terms of how long they live.
This is illustrated by Singapore, which has only ¼ of the health care expenses of the U.S., but its people live several years longer.
In short, above a certain threshold of wealth and essential medical services, people die mostly of old age, or behavioral factors such as suicide, substance abuse, and car accidents. Metzl shows no sign of awareness of these basic facts.
Metzl blames suicides on gun availability. According to his research, people who experience a suicidal episode are more likely to do the deed if they have a gun readily available. As the old trope goes: Correlation is not causation. It could just be that the suicide rate for some reason is higher in red, gun liberal states than elsewhere. If Metzl is correct, we should expect to see fewer non-gun suicides in these red states. According to economist Mark Duggan, we don’t. This indicates that suicide rates are not linked to gun-ownership per se, but to some other common factor.
Also, when we look at worldwide suicide rates versus gun ownership, we find no correlation. To illustrate the point, Japan is almost gun free but has a suicide rate comparable to that of the U.S.
Another important aspect of his theory is the notion that whites in America are killing themselves or having health problems because of Republican policies. The basic idea is that tax cuts are making life worse and more insecure due to reduced public services. Again, if Metzl had checked his hypothesis against the international data, he would have found that there is an unambiguous and well-understood correlation between economic freedom and all favorable social parameters. That is, the more capitalist society is, the happier, wealthier, healthier and more secure people become.
His final theory is that whites are feeling despair over losing their white power due to demographic changes. The sorrow over losing some of their power to women and people of color makes them sad and anxious. While he doesn’t outright call this racism, he does label it “whiteness” and connects it to health problems.
Interestingly, his ideological bias prevents him from looking at the data outside his own bubble. He doesn’t question the morality of mass immigration and the progressive castration of mainly white men. Maybe he should. If he is right about his assessment, he could equally well have concluded that progressive politics is killing white men.
According to a Canadian psychologist, Professor Gad Saad, women are now outperforming men in every field of academia, and yet the only message white men are hammered continuously with is that they are defined by their toxic masculinity and white privilege. What is the effect of relentless bullying and demonization of a group solely for their race and gender? It could be suicide.