Sunday, April 22, 2007
In a week in which a military report told of US marines not giving a toss about the lives of Iraqi civillians in a raid on the town of Haditha, more news of the Bush government's disdain for the poor comes from somewhere a little closer to home.
As reported in this blog last year, America has a higher infant death mortality rate than Cuba. But while this number has been steadily dropping since figures began, for the first time, in some states, the number is on the rise.
The New York Times today reports that America's babies in the Southern states are now 50% more likely to die in their first year of life than they were three years ago. While predominantly white American states continue to see the figures get better, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana have all seen the numbers stagnate - and now get worse.
Nowhere is this shown more starkly than in Mississippi, where a baby is almost twice as likely to die in its first year than the national average for the rest of the country.
Perhaps more relevant than the geographical factor is the racial one. As the people of New Orleans are all too aware, Bush doesn't particularly give a shit. What happens in the black south, stays in the black south.
Across America, black voters are harder to find than a Medicaid-accepting hospital.
The cost of the war on Iraq is in part being funded by making it harder for America's poor to get access to healthcare. While America's child mortality rate is only 10th of the world's industrialised nations, if you are a black American baby then your rates of survival are comparable with newborns in Russia, Sri Lanka, Venezuala, and Libya.
In February this year, George W. Bush made this statement in celebration of African American History Month: "All Americans can be proud of the progress we have made, yet the work for a more perfect union is not done. As we celebrate National African American History Month, we reaffirm our commitment to build a society where every individual has the opportunity to achieve the promise of this great land."
Obviously he was only talking about the individuals that live past their first birthday.