America’s Declining Life Expectancy

Data via the World Bank

After COVID-19, US life expectancy has fallen and it can’t get up. Americans lost a full three years of life, on average, placing them well below China. Same level as Sri Lanka, actually. At the same time, US children’s test scores have also been declining. These are not unrelated phenomenon. COVID hammered a weak foundation and the place is in terminal decline.

And yet people talk about the stock market. Or GDP. It’s like a cancer patient that things they’re getting swole because the tumor gets better. All the death gets buried in debt. All the millions of lost children get covered up by billionaires acting like children. None of the stuff westerners call progress means anything if your lives are literally regressing.

Life is, I venture to say, the point of life. GDP is a number and money is a means, but if you ask people why they do all this, it’s to provide for their families. To send their kids to school. To see grandkids. For a better life. And that’s just not happening. Maybe the stock-ticker on the TV goes up (before it goes BOOM!), but what does that mean when life is visibly declining? What does horse-betting do for a horse? For most working people, it’s the same thing.

I remember America’s COVID response and they only responded when the stock market went down, ie when it was far too late for the population. Prior to that they just used a human tragedy which required cooperation to just attack and scoff at China. Like a schoolyard bully, they were just throwing spitballs at the kid actually doing their homework. The Peoples Republic of China made a herculean effort to save their peoples’ lives and they did. They helped save millions across the world as well, including in Sri Lanka. And for this all they got was scorn and lies from the coughing West, the place which actually spread the most infection. Who did this propaganda hurt in the end? Really those ‘democratic’ populations, who were told to hate China and be proud to not expect anything from their own government. What these people call democracy is just a reality TV show distracting them from the fact that their governments are out of control, useless, and actively hate them.

The United States response to decline, in general, is to just hit someone else and hope it sticks. Now they’re openly trying to start World War III over Crimea or Taiwan because World War II was how they came up. But even that is different now. Their military-industrial complex — like all their other industries — has been deindustrialized. It’s hard to fight a war when you need imports from the people you’re trying to start the war with. As the Raytheon oligarch says, “We can de-risk but not decouple,” he said. “Think about the $500 billion of trade that goes from China to the US every year. More than 95% of rare earth materials or metals come from, or are processed in, China. There is no alternative.” Meanwhile America’s vassals in Europe are trying to run factories without Russian energy, and finding themselves conquered. I’d say love to say that World War III looks like a non-starter with these idiots, but dogs in a corner are even more dangerous, and these are dogs with nukes and they’ve used them.

America blames everybody else for their decline (Republicans blame immigrants, Democrats blame Russia, and they both agree on hating China). But who put baby in a corner? As much as the West likes to lash out at other people, they have been a unipolar power for my whole life. What have they done with that power? Looted their own grandchildren, trashed the Earth, bombed a lot of poor people, and for what purpose? So they could live less? So their kids could struggle at school? Even their richest people are constantly ‘hustling’ and seem miserable. What’s the point even?

I compare the US to China not because it’s a competition but because they made China an enemy. And it wasn’t always so. I remember in the 2000s and 2010s, how China was interesting and cool in the western media. That’s why I went there to visit. You can still see it in Chinese-language preschools rich parents send their kids to. But when Trump said China is the enemy, Biden dutifully followed along. But it’s just a massive distraction. We’re faced with problems that require cooperation above all.

I compare the countries because more Americans would have survived if they cooperated with and learned from China instead of just slandering them. COVID-19 should have been a moment for shared humanity, but America just made it into another one of their vapid ‘debates’ and some ideological question. Meanwhile China just did the work. They detected the disease early and released the genome rapidly, by January 2020. That’s what enabled vaccines to be spun out so quickly. China also showed how to do modern quarantines (aggressive and then over) and actually reached COVID-Zero and held it there. And yet many westerners will read these preceding sentences and comment back with pre-packaged propaganda (at what cost?). I won’t even get into it. China is not your enemy, Americans. You are. Just look at your lives. They’re lived while you died. And you’re still dying in droves. As the Lord said, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

I know that Americans are used to thinking that they should ‘lead’ the world, but there’s actually more safety in following for once. The predicaments we face are shared and, in most cases, American leadership is a big part of the problem. COVID, climate, general common sense self-preservation, America is ass-backwards on all this, and dragging everyone else down with them.

I think to the future when we’re trying to survive climate collapse, for which COVID was just a warm-up. Climate change is also just a symptom of a bigger problem, the growth-fueled destruction of the Earth that electric bulldozers won’t solve. This is another moment when you’d think we’d put aside differences and work together. But no. Even if you believe that renewables are going to save us (they won’t), America is sanctioning the number one producer of renewable energy (China, an actual climate leader). Americans would really rather destroy the world than follow anybody else’s lead for a minute. So they drag us all down, kicking and screaming.

Instead of the massive investments in adaptation we need, they’re pushing besieging half the world and militarily occupying the other. Instead of shutting down the world’s number one polluter (their military), they’re pushing nuclear submarines on Australia. Why? To protect Australia’s trade (with China) from China. None of it makes any sense. It’s like thinking the problem with the Titanic was they didn’t have enough guns. We’re facing massive threats to humanity and the US is focused on war with other humans. People they should be working with. And their own people suffer for this vanity. They slumber in the American Dream instead of waking up to the world of the living.

I grew up in America in the 80s and 90s, when all the lines were going up and the dream looked more than possible, it looked inevitable. We were at the end of history and America won. As a child a lot of things didn’t make sense, but I always thought adults were in charge. As suburban kids in Ohio, we thought the life ahead of us would be good and long. But we were wrong.

The generation I grew up with lives uncomfortable lives in the crater of the baby boom, unable to buy houses and stressed the fuck out at the idea of starting families. That’s why I returned to Sri Lanka, which has the same life expectancy as America now, despite being more collapsed than usual. If you’re going to be in a collapsed society, might as be with people that care about each other and in the sun. I digress into the personal, but isn’t that what it comes down to?

Life expectancy isn’t just a number. It’s life and death. Behind that number lie deaths of despair, suicides and slow suicides through plaintive drug abuse. Behind that number are violent deaths with guns, most of them pointed inwards, towards suicide or loved ones. Those statistics bury people dying preventable deaths because they’re petrified of medical bills, or people just so stressed by money that it takes years off their lives. Those numbers mean millions of people not eating well, not sleeping well, being constantly stressed by debt and being psychologically strafed by the news. I guess you can pile social media on there as a cause, but I don’t think that’s the problem. These are deep societal problems which just happen to be mediated through technology. These are life problems, or the lack thereof. What Americans can expect from life is just going down.

Most articles like this would end here on some hopeful note, but I won’t. As Svetlana in the Sopranos said, “That’s the trouble with you Americans. You expect nothing bad ever to happen, when the rest of the world expects only bad to happen. And they’re not disappointed.” Tony Soprano is the personification of America in decline, and he said, “I’ve been thinking it’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that I know but lately I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.” His shrink replies, “Many Americans I think feel that way.” And she’s right. They’re right. As I say as Millennial, I was born in the age of fucking around, and I will die in the age of finding out.

But I’m not an American, and I won’t heroin-coat it for you. I’m used to things getting bad, and then getting worse. I have no fentanyl in my fingers, no written opiate to offer you. What goes up must go down and if karma is real, Americans have got it coming. You can say it’s ‘not me’, but I’m a Buddhist and I believe in not-self, I don’t even understand what you’re talking about.

Life expectancy is an aggregate figure. These are things that happen at the social level and across multiple births and rebirths. Life expectancy reflects aggregate suffering across a population. It’s really a measure of a whole lot of shit going wrong at different levels of consciousness than the self or even the extant population. This is not something you can vote (lol) or even organize your way out of. This is a predicament, not a problem.

I’ll say it again. The collapse of America is a predicament, not a problem. You can’t make it out of a predicament, you can only make it through, if you’re lucky. So what can the average American do about average life expectancy? Dude, I don’t know, on average you’re fucked. When life expectancy goes down like this, you have to adjust your expectations. Life ain’t gonna be what it used to be, and it won’t be what you thought. America is an empire in violent and bitter decline. Is it any wonder that American lives are getting nasty and short?