[0:00] I'm David Torcivia.
[0:02] I'm Daniel Forkner.
[0:04] And this is Ashes Ashes, a show about systemic issues, collapse of the environment, cracks in civilization, and if we're unlucky - the end of the world.
[0:13] But if we learn from all of this, maybe we can stop that. The world might be broken, but it doesn't have to be.
David we've been talking about a lot of topics on this show that point to systemic, existential crises in some situations. Environmental collapse, financial systems that are vulnerable, and political systems that exploit people (among other things), but many people will point out, that hey, despite all the problems that we have today, the world has always been a tough place to live in. There's always been issues, there's always been conflict, and we now live, thanks to technology, thanks to economic growth, we now live in the best time.
We have the greatest security, we have the best health, we have the greatest convenience in terms of travel infrastructure. This is clearly the best time to be alive. So for all the complaining that we do here in Ashes Ashes, ultimately that's all it is, is just complaining and the world is still progressing, it's still getting better, and we have a lot to look forward to in the future.
[1:18] You know Daniel, for once I'm going to say that I agree with you. For some people, for a lot of people, that's absolutely true - this really is the best of times. But like the famous Charles Dickens book, that's not all the story and it hides what life is like for a vast majority of the people on Earth, and for them this is the worst of times.
It's a tale of two worlds, the best and the worst coming together.
[1:44] And I think we need to look at these two worlds and try to make sense of why that is. Why we have one world that for them is the best of times and another world that is the worst of times. And maybe ask the question, David, is this an equal dichotomy here? Do we have half the population experiencing the best of times, and half the population experiencing the worst? Or is there some kind of asymmetry going on here in the way the people perceive quality of life?
[2:10] These are excellent questions and things that will spend the next hour or so exploring. So let's dig in.
[2:15] In one of the arguments that someone might bring up to point out that we are living in the best of times is the modern convenience and technology that we experience. I've actually heard a psychologist say, "Hey the average American not only lives better than a an ancient King, the average American actually lives like an ancient demigod." Because we had these cell phones that can transmit communication halfway around the world, because we can hop on an airplane and fly to anywhere we want in just a few hours (something that not even the kings of old could do), and of course we have these amazing porcelain seats, this modern plumbing infrastructure that has given us such convenience that no one in our history ever got to experience. So what do you think about that, David, are we living like demigods in today's society?
[3:02] Well if you're rich enough you are, without a doubt. But the reality is is most of the world, and even most Americans don't have enough money for a lot of these luxuries you mention.
So something that becomes up: a lot the ability to fly around, easily travel anywhere in the world. Well here in the United States, one of the richest nations on planet Earth (per capita), somewhere between 50 and 60% of people don't fly every year, mostly because they can't afford.
That's a staggering number of people who can't afford this very basic component of this fantastically technologically enabled bit of modern life. And more than that we spend so much of our time working. The 40 hour work week, for many people it's 50, 60, 70 hours every single week that they devote to their job in order to have a place to live, in order to be able to afford food, well this is a departure from almost all of human history where we had, in comparison, tons of free time. And we have this sort of perception about the past, that people used to have to work constantly, that they were out in the field slaving away all day, that they were out gathering food all day, that they were out hunting, or they were tending their field all day long. And it's only modern times we have the convenience of stopping by grocery store or driving to wherever we're going that we have the ability to finally enjoy free time.
[4:12] Don't forget that while those ancient people were slaving away trying to survive on berries, nuts, and hunting they were at the same time trying to fend off all those saber tooth tigers just jumping at their throats constantly trying to kill them.
[4:26] Exactly this is the kind of ridiculous mental picture that we built up because of history textbooks and also a lot of popular media that have built this sort of meme. But in reality, we work now more than any other time in human history. The average hunter-gatherer in order to provide everything they needed in their life: that's their food, that's their water, that's their shelter, worked on average 15 to 20 hours a week to have all their needs met. Let that sink in for this woman.
[4:52] That's less time than I spend on Ashes Ashes, David.
[4:54] Yeah, exactly what are we doing?
[4:58] And in the recent agricultural past in medieval Europe or other places, for much of the year (outside of harvest season) people also only worked 20 to 30 hours a week, and spent the rest of their time with their friends, with community, living social lives and enjoying their free time. The conception of work to survive is relatively a recent development in history and has stolen from us the ability to enjoy life that has been the human experience, until the past century or two, but maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
[5:27] David I think you touched on a really important aspect of quality of life when you mention spending time with your friends spending time with your community, relaxing enjoying life doing the things you want to do as opposed to the things you have to do, because the way we think about quality of life has kind of been transformed into exclusive economic vocabulary, the only way we think about poverty worldwide as in terms of dollar amounts right and so I think something that we need to consider when we think about the quality of someone's life. Quality Of Life
[5:58] Is not just these external Goods these cell phones the plumbing infrastructure that we can enjoy but rather the relationship that we have with the world the relationship we have with society and the people around us. Because these might be better indicators of well-being then something as simple as just economic metrics but even when we are looking at pure economic metrics David if what you're saying is true that we're working more than we ever have before. But that raises questions in my mind about the progress that we've experienced and, you know we did suggest in our fashion episode that a better way of looking at progress than economic metrics in our modern world, might be to examine how the weakest links in our society are impacted from the very local ecology and the land that we depend on. To the poorest people among us. Poverty
[6:51] So when we look at those who experience the greatest level of poverty in our society to get a sense of how they're impacted by this economic progress.
[6:59] Yeah okay Daniel let's look at poverty and ask ourselves this question how does the progress of our economy by typical standard that is correlate with poverty. Quality of life in the ability for people to rise above a situation. It's an important question because if we in the United States are the supposed to Global leader of freedom of equality and more importantly the leaders of a global economic model that aims to raise people out of poverty, true growth then we should expect that that economic growth we've experienced here will correlate with a favorable Trend in poverty. And if there's a contradiction between the growth of our economy and the state of poverty and human suffering will we need to ask why that is, to what degree are economy ignores human suffering and maybe even to what extent does the modern economy benefit from and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
[7:50] This is a topic we want to spend a lot of time delving into not just I mean we do say a lot on the show hey we're going to explore this topic in death in another episode but, this is something that goes beyond just another episode this is something we're considering maybe even doing like a spin-off program to go in debt and how these forces work to affect people in poverty. Big topic it's something we're really excited to go into in the future but let's take a snapshot here in the contacts at this episode. So when you think about poverty around the world the United States is typically not the first thing that comes to mind. But in reality poverty in the United States has reached shocking.
[8:38] Horse adults are Americans and that may be surprising to many because we have been trained to believe that poverty is a dollar figure. By International economic institution for example extreme poverty means you're making less than $2 a day so I guess when you consider that even the poorest Americans can get a job at Walmart and make $7 an hour or whatever it is, we just assume that Americans are better off than the poor around the world but it turns out that's not true. Because you can't measure poverty in just amount of dollars coming in each day. You can make $7 an hour and still have a cost-of-living that exceed your income you can make $7 an hour and be unable.
[9:26] Government programs or just a basic Community around you you can make $7 an hour and still lack any hope for retirement and you can suffer mental and physical distress as a result of all the anxiety that comes along with that. $2 A Day
[9:40] And I know you mentioned one thing they're the $2 a day give or take measure which is the the I'm at The Wilbanks there measure of extreme poverty and one of the most important measures for them of the quantitative Improvement. Global economy that Global is in the capitals and has had on increasing the well-being of people all around the world.
[10:01] And we assume that every American household obviously is going to be making more than $2 today because how can you live in the United States. Done $60 a month that's not really possible.
[10:12] No because you got rent you've got most places in America the only way to travel around is by car.
[10:19] Your New York the subway One Way takes $2.75 that already blows your entire daily budget just to go somewhere and One Direction. But it turns out that bad extreme Barbie level is not a foreign to people in the United States and effect 1.5 million households as a hundred twenty million households in the United States, live below this $2 a day poverty line it's one out of every 90 households extreme poverty is here in the United States it just hidden from sight.
[10:46] What you're saying that there's over a million households they're living off less than $2 a day in the United States.
[10:52] 1.5 million households what dollars per day isn't the only measurement of quality of life some people have tried to get past the problem quantifying how well-off you are based solely on income and it said develop something called the well-being index. Well Being
[11:06] Which takes a lot of different measurements and creates a map more or less of is somebody's life good or is it bad. This was developed by Gallup a very prestigious Pull & Company the releases every year and it keeps track of how people in different states will have their lives are whether it's good weather it's bad weather in proving how much better or worse it's getting, and the score is derived from interviewing 160000 Americans and they look at things like purpose, a social situation that financial situation in what community they're in as well as their physical health the things that come together to define a good or bad life.
[11:40] In 2017 for the first time 21 states saw their well-being scores bra. And other first in 9 years of tracking the school or no State at all so any Improvement in X began in 2008 so bright at the peak of the financial crisis. When things were bad and 2017 was the worst decline recorded the.
[12:01] What this means is that despite the economy booming the stock market exploding in terms of day-to-day experience people are wearing more they have less energy and greater physical pain. People like others in their life to encourage them and in whom they can trust. In fact Millennials now who the loneliest generation ever recorded by pollsters people have less hope for their own future and experience increased depression and mental health problems.
[12:26] I was lonely before I met you David.
[12:28] I'm glad I can fill the void in your heart Daniel. But all this has direct economic impacts in addition Beyond this the quality people's lives in again it's weird that we haven't even discussed in this context but research shows that these well-being metrics correlates strongly with employees missing work employee productivity and healthcare costs.
[12:46] Like I said we'll get into this more depth later on this episode.
[12:50] Until then or morbid example of this very decline life expectancy in the United States has been going down for the past 3 years something we haven't seen in decades.
[13:01] In one of the big things impacting people's well-being is their financial situation. Debt
[13:07] One third of Americans have no savings at all 40% of households could not absorb a $2,000 emergency 40% of people of retirement age.
[13:30] Making less money than it cost you to live what's one way that you might be able to make up that difference.
[13:37] Well I'm assuming at this point I'm already working as much as I can so that really leaves me one decent legal option and I guess that is it's time to take out a loan.
[13:47] That's right and that's what a lot of people have done. And it may be easy to dismiss those with debt as being bad managers with money you know we can say oh it's their fault they shouldn't buy TVs they can't afford. But you're right David the reality is that for so many people that had become necessary just to survive. In terms of health care cost alone for example 20% of the entire country has unpaid medical debt in the hands of debt collectors. It's this aspect of how this private debt but so many Americans have wines up in the hands of debt collectors or something I think we should focus on real quick because it's such a shocking it such an important component of how this poverty, plays out in our society and how it perpetuates itself chances are if you're listening to this you're either in some form of that or you know someone who is. And in the United States the ACLU found that not only are many people in debt but that debt is being used to threaten people with jail. Actually throw people in jail and otherwise extort them often to legally often for more money than they are in debt for and always with the help of judges. And prosecutors.
[15:05] 5 million people have debt that has been transferred or sold to a private that collection company and he's collection companies are filing millions of lawsuits a year to force people to pay through the threat of jail.
[15:18] And there's so much debt out there Daniel I don't want to lose the bunch of numbers and stuff that you but I want to understand conceptually just all the different types of debt that we can carry, of course the most common and the greatest amount of debt that Americans have is Mortgage Debt. A lot of people talk about hear those aren't wealthy enough to even get a mortgage in the first place but that is the majority of American Dad but a lot of it is credit card that there's a lot of student debt auto loan payments, medical debt is a huge portion of this payday loans is especially as you get lower down in the poverty cycle up become a major component of this debt, almost everything in the United States is financed by that most of the economic recovery that we seen has been built on debt on cheap money look at the institutional level as well as all the way down to individuals maxing out their credit card and that's why we adjust hit the highest amount, object permanence ever recorded much more than before the 2008 crisis and a lot of that is credit card that which is at the highest levels in all of history.
[16:13] Even more than that David is the fact that these debt collectors have found a way, to take advantage of any situation in which a person might owe money including something as little as a utility bill that someone forgot to pay well utility companies will sell that obligation to a debt collector, 4 less than the amount that is owed that debt collector wouldn't go and try to collect that money off that person so, yes we're financing everything but also we have bills and when those bills go unpaid there's someone there who's willing to collect, and what's so alarming about this process of using this. To throw someone in jail, is it is not actually even legal at least not the United States Congress abolished debtors prison in 1833. So what's more alarming is the fact that this process isn't possible without the willful and the aggressive assistance of the court system. How many state courts have been turned effectively into collector Sports. Debt collection lawsuits being the majority of cases and with judges churning through hundreds of cases each day, not even bothering to verify that what the debt collectors Claim about the amount that a person owes is even true.
[17:25] We talked a lot about the school-to-prison pipeline or the prison industrial complex but this debt system they're the process of turning out fines and fees over just a little, all the time stupid things which is something we'll discuss in the future and making money off of it was at the judicial level for the the city for the municipality, as well as for these debt collectors has become a huge, enormous industry by itself and people gotten frustrated about this it was a lot of us that don't end up in court all the time over these stupid little fines and fees at just keep adding up. We don't realize how big of promises because we are at the communities affected by this. Remember a few years ago the Ferguson riots I was kicked off by a police shooting but a lot of that frustration that led to people going out there and venting their anger on the buildings on business owners on the police, is because they were just costly attacked by and saddled what is enormous debts from the municipality finding them over every little thing they could and catching them in a continuous cycle.
[18:22] And David that's almost a separate issue and of itself is the way that Vines get levied on poor people by municipalities for really ridiculous things does a whole system of code enforcement and finds that we want to definitely explore death.
[18:36] NYPD makes over billion dollars a year from these fine. The Debt And Prison Pipeline
[18:40] But let's get into how this process of debt collection in terms of the role that private debt collectors play in this process. Because it's really shocking so the process goes something like this a private company a debt collector files a lawsuit against someone for money owed on let's say. A school textbook or an unpaid water bill or maybe an ambulance fee that someone incurred a couple years ago. But the person in debt has no idea they have been sued. Because these companies have no incentive to provide the notice and in 95% of these lawsuits the judge will give the collector what they ask for. Almost automatically and sometimes what the collector is asking for is authorization for a sheriff to go out and seize the debtors car maybe put a lien on their house, or maybe garnish their wages, but these collectors have figured out even more effective way to make money mostly from poor people who otherwise don't have the access to seas and little to no income to garnish and that's by throwing them in jail.
[19:41] One second after you mentioned a minute ago that debtors prison was abolished that this is something that we cannot have in the United States said it was bad I remember learning that elementary school.
[19:52] Yeah and it is true that the Supreme Court ruled on a case a few decades ago the kind of made it ambiguous about what municipalities could do but right now David in every jurisdiction in the United States it is illegal to put someone in jail for debt. But the way.
[20:15] What we ordered them to do and what they ordered them to do could be pay the court-ordered installment plan or show up for an examination they never received notice for. It's a gross technicality the courts get away with because these debtors they have no defense they are often too poor to afford an attorney. No attorney is given to them even though that is a basic component of our judicial system is the right to Legal defense. And this process has become so routine and certain areas that judges just automatically issue arrest warrants simply because collectors ask them to. And his collectors they're using the threat of jail intentionally because they know it's the most effective way to scare someone into paying. Attack some companies will go out of their way, to postpone or reschedule hearing if a defendant actually shows up Phil keep postponing it until they finally missing hearing so that it's easier for them to get an arrest warrant they can say hey judge they didn't show up, give us a warrant for their arrest. And why do these companies want these debtors arrested on the first place it's easier to extract money from them often times the judges will set bail equal to the amount to be collected and when it gets paid the hand the money over to the debt collector.
[21:29] You talk a lot about what the debt collectors are getting out of this but why is the corporate dissipating in this process it seems like it goes against whatever judicial or fairness or whatever ethics the court is supposed to.
[21:41] Well in one of the most deplorable aspects of the system the courts themselves are actually making money off this, and that's their private contracts the district attorney offices have with debt collectors all over the country to extract money from people who have written a check that bounced, so it is a criminal offence to intentionally write a bad check. It's fraud but it has to be over a certain dollar amount and you have to be able to prove Criminal Intent. Despite this District Attorney's have signed contract with private companies that allow them to send letters.
[22:21] Prosecution when no Criminal Intent has been shown and even when the check amount was under the criminal amount. It's act 1 attorney documented over 10,000 checks less than $10 that people receive letters for threatening them with jail.
[22:36] But again I mean how are the courts profiting off of this.
[22:39] Oh yeah well as part of these contracts with a district attorney debt collectors are allowed to attach exorbitant fees on top of the debt owed which is then funnel back to the core system once it's paid for example there was a woman who bounced a check.
[23:05] Plus an additional $185 in fees. And the letter imply that she would be criminally charged and go to jail she did not do so within 10 days and these fees eventually ballooned to $220 meaning that she paid over six times the amount the check was bounced for. And if that's not bad enough David someone else paid $444 to a private company for bouncing a check under $4. And an elderly woman living off Social Security of $800 a month stop taking her medication because she believed that she didn't pay the fees should go to jail. Maybe we don't need to go too much and death in this topic the ACLU wrote a long report on this.
[23:47] It's amazing reading you should really check it out.
[23:49] Will reference it on the website, and it doesn't take much to imagine how someone living paycheck-to-paycheck trying to survive can be pushed over the edge through a system like this I just essentially praying on people's vulnerability to extract money from them in a very illegal and unfair way, again I know I said we wouldn't go in-depth anymore on this topic but I mean they're even companies that as part of the system have illegally dressed their agents, in law enforcement uniforms so posing as officers, they've even set up fake courtrooms and office building so they'll get these gutters to come to what is essentially a fake hearing with fake police officers to get them to sign installment plans for Des that they'll never be able to repay, it is a dark in a dirty underground business that is happening all over the country that people need to be aware of.
[24:39] And I want to cut straight to the chase here and not men's any words if you are involved in this industry if you work in this debt collection industry Q your piece of shit and.
[24:50] Well said David well said.
[24:54] Daniel you mention debtors prison has been banned and of course this is technicality version of debtors prison but I don't know it sounds like the world a better place than it used to be even more people are being persecuted by this horrible practice and ever before.
[25:07] David I know you're joking but honestly you're kind of on to something because so much of what we think of as progress in terms of social issues like an equality like discrimination. I've not actually gone away they've just been removed from what is visible and one of those is an equality. Inequality
[25:27] It's write inequality is one of the major hot-button issues of today it's states where it's worse than just about almost anywhere else on the planet. Professor of Economics at MIT describes the trend in America of a Vanishing middle class leaving in its wake a Great Divide between what he calls two countries within one the best of times the worst of times. Something that many people point to as a characteristic of poor and developing Nation. It's one of those two countries will it short on one hand it's a very rich country with tons of resources opportunities and shield from taxes and on the other hand it's a large or country or people live in functional slavery, I know same public policy and are kept that way through social control practices like mass incarceration. The denied higher wages for the benefit of the wealthy and the American dream of Social and economic Mobility is never within grasp. The disparity is being felt of course I'm on Millennials trying to work marginal races trying to find opportunity and older Generations trying to retire. Millennials work sample living in the US or UK Japan among the first generation to be worse off economically. Then the previous we just have fallen 43% relative to the parents they have more student debt than ever before history and they're competing for jobs at the rising Automation and Baby Boomers who can't afford to retire. And because of this Rising inequality upward Mobility has plummeted. New research by Economist at Stanford Harvard and UC Berkeley looked at data across generations and they found that 50% of all children born in the 80s unless their parents the same age.
[26:59] And today that number has risen to 64% for the force in the country of quarter or less than the parents for the richest cohort 82% earn less.
[27:08] And the biggest drops in that Mobility the ability to rise above the economic cohort that you were born into, well this Mobility is dropping the most within the middle class but there's an even Starker reality and that's the way that this plays out among skin color or race, because this is another thing we hear about the progress of the modern world discrimination used to be bad but now it's better but is that really true. That same research group from Stanford Harvard and UC Berkeley discovered that for white children born in the lowest fifth of the economic spectrum the chance of a.
[27:51] Black child in the same poor cohort. But more than that for white children born in the upper V wealthiest cohort of the United States they were five times as likely to stay there then fall to the bottom know what do you think the chance was.
[28:12] Child will grow up to stay right where they are what do you think that chances David.
[28:17] I think about this for a second.
[28:20] For why it's your five times as likely to stay in the rich cohort than fall down to the bottom.
[28:26] I don't know it is one to one.
[28:29] Yeah that's right. Flip a coin that's the chance you can be born as a black child in the wealthiest part of America and there's a 50% chance that as you grow up you're going to wind up in the very poorest. How's that for Economic Opportunity how's that for the American dream. And you might be tempted to say it will hold on now black children are more likely to have only a single parent the more likely to grow up in a less educated family with less money and connections, and even in different neighborhoods as tragic as that might be that's the reality so of course they have less opportunity but, This research control for that and found that it actually doesn't matter when you compare families with the same levels of wealth the same levels of Education family structure and even those that live in the exact same neighborhoods, blacks still have significantly smaller incomes when they grow up compared to their white counterparts but seriously. Anyone has any doubt about the state of racial equality and discrimination in America. Go read the new Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander you'll see the not only did segregation not go away. It is arguably worse than it was when it was legal, legal to prevent someone from coming into your restaurant based on the color of their skin the realities faced by the marginal classes in American society is honestly Beyond Comprehension and we're not going to do it justice in this episode right now.
[29:52] But as we've established it's not getting better. Okay that's a lot to process right now but there's still much more that we want to touch on in this episode again this is why this episode has to be a snapshot because there are just so many angles of tragedy, going on in our world right now that just to dwell on one of them doesn't ingested to the entire picture and that's what we're really trying to explore here in this episode today so let's Jump Ahead to how this economic inequality, Health Trends
[30:16] are these economic problems also impact our health.
[30:19] Because we are also led to believe our modern world is healthier and more medically advanced than ever before.
[30:25] Answer to buy a lot of metrics infant mortality the life expectancy of a step into the past few years by many metrics we are living longer and we are living healthier at least in the broad picture but when we start looking closer at it that narrative starts to fall apart.
[30:40] Especially considering that where you fall on the economic spectrum has a big impact on your health, a study published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at 4,600 people between the years 2000 and 2012. And they found it after the Great Recession there were significant increases in blood pressure and glucose levels among the populations, mostly among young adults that were still in the labor force and also older homeowners who saw their housing values deteriorate and along with that their Financial Security. The largest effects could be seen among individuals who had been on medication prior to the recession because medication use and treatment limited after the crisis likely due to exorbitant health care cost. And as you remember blood pressure and glucose are both big contributors to heart disease one of the main chronic diseases the National Health budget is suffering to try and address right now.
[31:36] But this was the only study done after the recession that try to look at the health effects associated with what we consider to be purely an economic event. 2017 literature review paper published in current epidemiology reports looked at multiple comprehensive studies and found that the recession had led to, 11% decline in the total fertility rate in the US most likely due to young people postponing having children because they just can't afford it, for those that did have children the recession had negative impacts on birth and child health even announcement of mass layoffs was enough to lead significantly to a decline in birth weight, the children who join school lunch programs because of declining family income had a higher prevalence of cavities in their teeth.
[32:16] That one stands out to me a little bit because I mean what does that say about our school lunch programs that they're that unhealthy that children are getting cavities when they switch to it.
[32:25] Will anybody who grew up and went to public school knows that lunch programs have never been quality.
[32:30] Yeah but that chocolate milk was good.
[32:32] Yeah that's cavity milk.
[32:34] And nearly all studies that looked at the physical health effects of the downturn founded.
[32:44] Physical ailments in a marked rise in diabetes.
[32:48] Studies examining mortality founded in Europe impact with less severe four countries that spend more on Social Services relative to those countries that spend less.
[32:57] 42 studies that examined mental health were reviewed and showed an increase in psychological distress in both the US and Europe. Impacted marginal populations like Hispanics and blacks the most and these Trends were more severe in the US which lacks many of the safety net programs that Europe has.
[33:17] Of course the tragedy of suicide increase for both Europe and Canada and has really accelerated for the US and continues to accelerated today especially among teens and middle-aged Americans.
[33:29] David maybe it seems obvious to point this out like oh you know people lost their jobs they lost our savings and we're supposed to be surprised that suicide increased. And that Health decline.
[33:40] Makes sense to me.
[33:41] What's the point of all this it's not just complain about the economy had a downturn in people suffer, the point is to make clear that this was not an accident not all of us were just huddled together as a nation as a people as a global Community we weren't just trying to just weather the storm that came out of left field and caught us all underwear. That this was a direct result of an economy that undermined its own foundation and economy that as a rule seeks to destroy everything that supports it, and as these studies into Health make clear an economy that is literally killing us our economy is not resilient it is not robust but rather its stretches and thins out a global infrastructure to its most vulnerable state, forcing each part of the machine to specialize. And mole to uniformity the benefits This Global machine as opposed to allowing local economies to adapt to local needs, and when you make the world vulnerable and when you take away its foundation it's not an accident when things crash and burn its inevitable, people suffer but those who sit at the top of the machine continue to benefit they're not tied to local conditions they can move freely to wherever the money flows.
[34:55] We're here talking about the recession about the failures of the economy in that situation and we recovered since then right. Stock markets up the economy is booming unemployment is down at least we're led to believe all these things but in reality most of that growth has not gone to most of us 1% of the population the richest, top 1% have captured 85% of all income growth following 2008 crisis 10% of Americans. 83% of the stock market, this is that inequality that were talking about the things that prevent the upward Mobility that is the American dream at the idea of economic freedom in the United States is built upon and as time goes on as his growth is captured more more by smaller and smaller group of people. More people are waking up and realizing that this growth that this dream that was sold to all of us is just a lie but it was always designed to take advantage of us to try and trick us into contributing to the system that is working against the majority of us. I need to be on the economic component of this ability to pair rent-to-buy food well it turns out the work that we have to do for all of this itself is killing us. Work Kills
[36:03] So going to be on just this specific economic downturn you saying that the work were actually doing day today is itself causing problems.
[36:13] Exactly and I'm not just talking about the rising CO2 in these Office Buildings. Okay so in 2016 the trust for America's health and well-being trust released a report showing that deaths attributed to alcohol drugs and suicide have increased by 11% over the previous. 14000 more deaths for total of 142000 people at same time that's by opioids doubled in a single year over the past 10 years deaths by alcohol have gone up 40%. And much of this other reports found is because of the workplace itself.
[36:46] Professor of organizational behavior at Stanford published a book a couple of months ago that examines the health impacts of modern work culture. And it's really a simple premise the biggest health care cost we have come from chronic disease. At least in the u.s. that's 75% of our Healthcare Bill and studies show that the biggest driver of chronic disease is stress and what is the cause of the most stress in the majority of people's lives.
[37:14] It's workplace and it may be obvious to most of us here and that we don't need research is to prove this for us but most Americans and most people in the world. Their jobs according to a global 142 country study found that only 13% of employees around the world actually engaged with their work. United States is slightly higher at 29% but that still mean 71% of people in the US and Canada are totally not engage with the work in any meaningful way. People don't trust their managers job satisfaction is plummeting less and less of us have health insurance and pension programs we already know that that's not a thing that happens anymore. Like we've mentioned before people work more than ever before this turns their family life personal free time and has a toll on their Mental Health. Beyond all that people are just insecure about their future because of their work. The other makes this case that poor work was condition tell me Norma's cost to businesses bottom line again this is that economic argument here cuz apparently we can't discuss how much life sucks without justifying it in terms of dollar amounts.
[38:18] I'm not shedding any tears over any lost profits for businesses.
[38:22] Yeah but this is what catches people's attention this is how you get funding for your your studies I guess what people miss work because of the stress in one survey 7% of people were hospitalized at one point because of workplace related stress.
[38:35] I see David this actually happen to me as we always think that these types of things happen to other people or younger healthy whatever but.
[38:43] What per second president for the benefit of the viewers but cannot see Daniel I've never seen Daniel Daniel is a healthy young guy he spit, usually does Jiu-Jitsu he's like we will we will want to look like Daniel Lee this is not the type of person to ingest is going to be damaged by workplace stress or have to go to the hospital something from this.
[39:01] Well I'm just preparing for that nudist colony that you alluded to in our fashion episode.
[39:06] Mad start on us.
[39:08] This is actually a little embarrassing but I graduated college with a business degree and, I thought my purpose in life was to go out and make a lot of money that's what everyone else was doing that's what I was taught to do in school so that's what I thought I had to do it to spite but not really being sure about my future not really knowing what I wanted to do. It so I was working a Commission job and I was so stressed I just wasn't happy I felt like I was living a life that really wasn't my choice but I just had to do it anyway I had to figure out how to make it work. And one night I woke up at 3 in the morning and my chest was just on fire I never been in this kind of pain before I didn't know what it was I thought that I was having a heart.
[40:00] I got my car and I drove myself to the hospital I went to the emergency room I stayed there for a couple hours because they were busy before someone finally could see me, and it turns out I just had acid reflux. The doctor told me it's common among people who experience stress and I just didn't know what it was because it was all in my chest, then the doctor gave me a prescription for some pills that were supposed to help with it but I never got them filled because I realized this is not okay it's not okay for me to live like this to be so stressed. I'm literally waking up in the middle of night thinking I have to go to the hospital so I think that was a real turning point in our life what I had to ask myself what am I doing this make sense does it make sense to feel this much anxiety, I was just trying to make money and be successful in life and, I guess I had the luxury of kind of turning my life into another direction that many people don't have but yeah that happened to me.
[40:53] Text the most gripping story about acid reflux I've ever heard.
[40:58] I mean a joke but that really is a great single anecdote of how these workplace scenarios can have direct Health impacts on us as individuals.
[41:07] And I actually completely forgotten that it happened until I read that statistics of people being hospitalized because of stress I was like I thought that's exaggerated I don't see how that could possibly happen to someone unless I gotta wait.
[41:19] You just a sadistic Daniel.
[41:20] Yeah I am the 7% but yes I know what the argument that author makes is that all these things add up to enormous losses for companies. And it is a great illustration of what I said earlier about an economy that undermines its foundation and destroys that which it depends on you can't have a company without workers and those workers do better and have greater long-term productivity, when they are happy healthy educated and satisfied. But our economy doesn't care about the long-term it says hey I can make more profit right now by squeezing my workers and forcing them to work longer. Paying less for their education by disregarding their needs but socially emotionally and it disregard the fact there's a cost associated with. The ads up whether that's in the form of our Rising National Healthcare cost that has exploded from chronic disease or whether that's just a decline in worker productivity.
[42:18] And I just want to carry one final standing here in this section and it maybe this would have said that earlier but remember that these stress in the workplace impact brought by poverty don't just affect. The workers themselves but also their family the BBC did the study called America First with a question mark at the end that analyzes some of the issues actually they were talking about in the show 300 saying I would recommend checking it out.
[42:42] One of the things that looked at was interested in these children growing up in these major American cities in New York and Atlanta and LA. And researchers began looking at these children they look at them psychologically how did they deal with growing up in these environments and what they found is that they have a normous amounts of PTSD growing up in the situation. How to put this in perspective the average soldier who goes to combat will come back and 10 to 20% of them will suffer from PTSD. Which is a huge amount and it's a tragedy that the Veterans Administration and the government as a whole just aren't dealing with in a responsible way what did PTSD incidents for these children who are just growing up in these four areas is 40 to 50%. 4 * 2 more than double of what is coming back from soldiers who saw combat across the world. And this affects the rest of their lives defects in developmentally the text him socially to text him emotionally their future is damaged is hurt is cut short by growing up in these unforeseen situations brought on by these workplace problems and economic problems that were discussing here. It's half of a whole generation or had this terrible emotional problems I'll have to deal with the rest of their life and who is that a failing of the failing of the system that we have right now. Modern Violence
[43:54] Was speaking of those affected by situations that resemble Battlefield and violence. Violence at self has intensified over the past few years all over the world and it has led to a huge increase in the number of people that are dying each year from armed conflict. We are trains to believe that we live in the most peaceful time of History you're the London International Institute for strategic studies. Shows us that between 2008 and 2014 the annual deaths from this armed conflict increased by 220%. To 180000 fatalities in 2014 alone but that's just deaths of people involved in violence. The World Bank estimates 1.2 billion people use that's 20% of the global population 1.2 billion people are impacted by violence around the world. And that London study I found that over 50 million people were displaced from their homes in 2013.
[44:55] And put those numbers in perspective because the population has grown so much 1.2 billion people displaced or affected by violence is about the same as what happened during World War 1. And not too dissimilar from World War II which is the largest conflict in human history and this is during a time that we claim relative peace. And to be fair that most peaceful time in history meme that we here so much it was true around the year 2000 but, since then bounces only been increasing War more people have been involved in conflict in the number of lives lost and the number of direct conflicts has only climb since then.
[45:29] And the short-term consequences of being displaced by this violence at translate into tragic long-term in.
[45:41] Economic Development and the dissipation of government services that can help people in times of need.
[45:47] And it's not just these places these developing nations that are responsible for this violence for example. United States is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of 20 to 30 million people since the end of World War II. About majority that being Korea Vietnam Afghanistan and Iraq but also the many Civil Wars and koos United States has directly created in order to further its diplomatic and economic interest over the past seven decades. To put those numbers in perspective that's about the same amount of people that Stalin was claimed to have killed. Or did something more modern that's a 9/11 every two and a half days for 70 years.
[46:26] When you put it that way David. It really raises the question of who is good or evil in this world and and who determines that I was certainly very surprised to learn about all this armed conflict going on around the world and specially the involvement of us may or may not have had in this. Because again we are told that we live in a time of peace and that specifically the United States is this force of good around the world and the fact that we use our military around the world is seen as something, almost benevolent wherever they're supporting other people were helping other people work building economies. But the death toll is something that's really hard to ignore in that context it's a really back to the question why is there so much conflict why is the conflict getting worse.
[47:10] This is a conversation that can again be its own episode philosophical discussion over drinks. But I think it is something just important to briefly touch on in and of course that is because war is a critical component of modern economy. All around the world not just the United States. To the Iraq invasion of Iraq which had nothing to do with 911 which is trumped up on wmds that actually exist they were just meet up and where to get us involved and their popular conception is always been of course she went there to get the oil.
[47:40] That's what everybody says and then people ignore and they say yeah this is about the economics of oil but in reality wasn't even really so much about oil we didn't take that much oil out of it, we didn't seize control of all these oil fields what we did do is spend trillions of dollars on defense contractors mostly owned by the people in power that created this war. Where's about selling Arms This is a critical component of a lot of economy is the United States Russia is real these are all major arms dealers and they test These Arms in these conflicts and sell them to countries around the world. But even beyond that these wars are about furthering economic interest. The Needs That Drive Us
[48:15] And when you said that David that war is necessary to our economy I think that really. All the conflict around the world into perspective is not just an unfortunate consequence that we're just trying to deal with it is a direct result. Of our need to support a global economic infrastructure. That we can depend on any other way to create a global Empire if I'm making other countries totally dependent on you through Force. And I agree with you that this is a probably a topic for another episode but there is an irony here and that we're trying to create, a stable economy that we can depend on for oil that we can depend on for resources that we can import our needs from other countries around the world. But that's actually putting us, a great National risk our national security itself is compromised by our dependence on a global infrastructure it means that we can't depend on our own land to support us we can't depend on our own energy sources. And can I country truly be secure when it can't even sustain its own people with its own land.
[49:20] And of course the root of all this is that we have lived beyond our means not just in the violence that we pushed around the world. Also in the violence we inflict on the environment itself we keep coming back to this point again and again that we are unsustainable, there was success and wealth of our Modern Life that Steven Pinker talks about as the greatest time in human history is built on the debt of the environment and the blood of people around the world. Violence is hidden out of sight out of mind or push to the Future that means conflicts around the world that means sweatshops and developing nations, that means climate catastrophes coming just decades or centuries in the future, I need cities eventually underwater that means billions of climate refugees according to the UN in just a few decades we have destroyed the world we've destroyed the lives of hundreds of millions of, billions of people in order to create this quote best time in human history and their wealth are flights. Toilets are Plumbing the things that allow us to live as demigods is Daniel mentioned in the beginning of this episode will eventually all have blood on them. That says suffering of people who built them that violence be pushed out of sight and out of mind and once again the death in misery that is coming in the future as we have to pay for environmental consequences.
[50:38] You know what I think is so brilliant in a evil way about the propaganda system that we grow up in that is if we are here in the United State or Another Western Empire. Disconnected: Modern Slavery
[50:47] The Brilliance is that there's so much violence in so much destruction that we've become so disconnected we hardly even notice the economy's destructive nature and we can actually believe that we live in the best of times. I mean really how can we have become so disconnected that we just take it for granted that slavery is normal or somehow you know just business as usual there are 40 million slaves around the world right now. And I was reading an article by someone who was pointing out this problem of slavery around the world didn't even this author it was clearly aware of this issue. Points out that despite the scope of this exportation hey we should be proud of companies that are making public statements on the issue and these companies are shining examples of the positive progress that our economy is making. So take Target for example the company has stated it will attempt to reduce or slavery and its business over the next few years. And this is praised like there's some great company.
[51:48] I just want to stop on 2nd and again reinforce the total absurdity of that statement, we're going to reduce our dependence on forced labor and especially that PR word their forced labor because it sounds really bad when you say we're trying to cut down and how much slavery we have in our supply chain.
[52:04] Right slaves are literally being used to run their business and we're supposed to be happy that they're supposedly. Realizing this for the first time we're supposed to empathize with the assumption that your business is just so complex it's so difficult that it's just so hard to keep slaves out of that process. Two other companies Nestle and Mars well as a result of pressure from Greenpeace they made announcements that they will try to reduce human rights abuse and illegal practices in their pet food supply chain, specifically and transshipping practices where ships transfer cargo and human labor in open Waters where they can't be tracked. This goes back to what you said in our Plastics episode David that we have incentivize companies.
[52:59] Been caught doing something destructive do they say oops we are well we didn't know we relied on slaves will try to be better and then we applied them and treat them like great companies. We've been duped into thinking that we can eliminate things like slavery and exploitation by encouraging business to adopt better policies without even questioning, weather slaves and exploitation are necessary.
[53:28] Business as usual.
[53:30] Once again I just want to drive in that one point I know had is that there are more slaves now than ever before in human history at it this is something we talked about before previous episodes people are still sold in open-air markets. Wealthy countries like Guitar Building the World Cup right now are doing that with slave labor. Even here in the United States the place where we think this can't possibly exist except maybe out of the human trafficking and sex slave industry. Which we are actively fighting war on and accidentally persecuting sex workers at the same time what you can it's another episode by itself but curing the United States there are massive fishing fleets off the coast of Hawaii staff entirely by slaves. The catfish bring it to boards and white and then we eat it all across the country the AP in a Pulitzer prize-winning report on this in 2016 in almost nothing has been done about. Issue we eat food from slaves here in Hawaii and United States once again this violence is pushed out of sight out of mind it's what enables our modern lifestyle we talked before about nothing is profitable when you take into account, Life Built On Human Suffering
[54:30] environmental externalities and cost of the damage that we do what's even more so when you calculate in the human suffering we inflict on individuals in order to live the life that we do. Is wealth is luxurious lifestyle that we have come to know in the west is built once again on this human suffering all these environmental externalities and because we can't quantify these things because we can't quantify what it means to be a Slave, what it means to work for a dollar a day what it means to be taking away from your family locked up in a boat and made to capture fish all day long.
[55:01] This type of stuff that can be Quantified and so we can't put it cost to it. So things are profitable but we tried to calculate this in will the measure of human suffering in order to create this life it's just not worth it and the system that enables this well that's not worth it either.
[55:16] Now here as we come to the end of this episode regular listeners of the show are expecting the what can we do section but in reality the what can we do is this show, every episode where we dive deep into these specific issues where you look at similar components of this global system if problems these are the what can we do, because this problem is so great involving every single part of our life but we can't just look at it from here from the top and say well we just need to tear it all down and restart. The Practical it's too much to do so by looking at all these specific examples topics understanding them sharing them we hope that we can start making a difference. The Purpose
[55:51] Let me quote Wendell Berry real quick a fan of the show sent us some material on Winterberry up and reading up about him and he says quote it is unrealistic to expect a battle.
[56:10] Purpose of bringing up all these bad news like you mentioned David the purpose of the shows is not just to complain is to realize that these bad things have a Cause. They aren't just accidents the world we live in did not evolve this way. The economic and political structures that we were born into were not gradual processes of rising logically out of incremental steps our economy was built through force and violence, backed by the extraction of massive amount of energy we are taught to believe that this is the natural way to organize the world, but at every step of the way the development of our economic structures were met with resistance and struggle as those our economy exploits and enslaved try to keep control of their land and the resources, there are many different ways to organize a society but we are not going to get that if we keep believing that everything is great. And that if we just sit patiently all our problems will be solved by a never progressing economy and technological innovation. Our societal problems are not going to be solved by the same forces that create.
[57:23] Solve inequality and equality is the goal it will not reduce war-war is how Global infrastructure is held in place.
[57:34] But that's not to say that we don't believe a better world is possible the world might be broken but it doesn't have to be. Wrap Up
[57:42] Do you want to learn more about any of the things we talked about here or look at the mini mini stats in sources we pulled or this episode you can find all the information and much more as well as a full transcript of the show on our website at ashes ashes. O r g.
[57:58] A lot of time to research goes into making these episodes possible we will never use ads to support this show. So if you like it and would like us to keep going you can support us by sharing this with a friend and giving us a review. Also we have an email address it's contact at ashes ashes. O RG send us your thoughts positive or negative and will read it.
[58:21] You can also find us on your favorite social network at ashes ashes cast next week we're taking a look at a very broken technological and judicial system and we really helpful to him for that one until then this is ashes ashes.