It All Adds Up

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A recent study by two Princeton University professors, one a Nobel laureate, has revealed that death rates for middle-age white males nationwide has climbed significantly in the past two decades. The study dovetails with Long Island’s heroin problem. Such numbers also included a spike in white male suicide rates. Sympathetic pundits have cited the dominance of corporate power in America, which they blame for the continued loss of blue collar jobs overseas and the four-decades-long decrease in real wages. But wage deflation effects all Americans. Certainly the permissive culture that prevailed in the ’60s and ’70s has plenty to do with the increase in the death rate. Why did the white male suicide rate take such a jump?

There is a matter of economics. It can be humiliating for a man who is unable to support a wife and children on a single paycheck, as was once the norm. When a good, manufacturing job goes overseas, then that worker just lost the best job he will ever have. The culture wars of the past three decades haven’t helped either. Fewer and fewer white males attend college, the track to better-paying jobs. This is due to tuition fees, but also, maybe, to demonization. Who wants to spend enormous amounts of money just to sit in a classroom and hear how wicked one’s heritage is? None of this in itself may cause such an ultimate act, still demonization is creating a lost generation of American youths.

So what is it? Cultural and demographic displacement? Jobs leaving America? Jobs for which the pay can’t keep pace with inflation? And how did that happen? Free trade? Greedy unions—or greedy capitalists? No one, including us, knows the causes for increased white male suicide. Let’s just say that it all adds up.

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Joe Scotchie is the editor of both The Roslyn News and New Hyde Park Illustrated News. In 2009, he won a New York State Press Association (NYPA) award for a sports feature. Joseph Scotchie’s past publications include biographies of Thomas Wolfe and Richard Weaver and a comprehensive history of the city of Asheville, North Carolina.

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