I got an email today from a reader asking about this New York Times doozy. My old friend David Leonhardt is once again linking how counties voted for Donald Trump with their rates of Covid deaths.
Here was my answer.
This drives me nuts. Looking at the way counties voted tells you NOTHING about who is dying of Covid in them and/or whether or not those people were vaccinated and/or had other comorbidities. To be specific - many of those super-red Trump counties are probably rural Southern counties - they are poor and generally unhealthy - and even their Democratic voters are likely to be African-Americans, who unfortunately have the highest rates of morbid obesity of any demographic group. Those folks are at risk, vaccinated or not. David knows this, and he knows he's playing with the numbers.
If the vaccines worked, 2021 and this winter would have looked VERY different - not just in the United States, but in Europe.
There’s something in it for everyone to hate - I’m racist because I mention rates of obesity for black people! I’m a northern liberal (Jew) because I point out that rural Southern counties are “generally unhealthy”! - but the truth is what it is.
Unfortunately, the United States has become a deeply unhealthy society, and all the money we spend on healthcare seems to be making matters WORSE not better.
This chart tracks health-care spending per-person by country vs. life expectancy through 2018. The United States is an outlier in the worst possible way. We spend more than TWICE as much as most other countries, but we die on average about five years sooner. And the numbers have only gotten worse since 2018, thanks to the opioid crisis and now Covid.
The first step to fixing reality is acknowledging it.