Year 14, Book 89

89. Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan Metzl

Physician and sociologist Jonathan Metzl explores how long held ideologies based on both overt and covert racism cause people to create policies that are detrimental to their own lives. Using focus groups and lots of comparative data analysis looking at states both before and after they passed certain laws and comparing them to states with similar demographics with opposite laws. He looks at gun laws in Missouri and how they have led to a huge increase in gun based suicide by white men. In Tennessee he examines the decision to not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act causing significantly worse health outcomes compared to people in Kentucky where the Medicaid expansion was passed. Finally, he looks at tax cuts passed in Kansas particularly focusing on the effects on education.

It’s a really good book that somewhat helps me understand why people vote against their own interests, but is also maddening for the same reason. It does not give me much hope for the future. I mean what are you supposed to do with someone who literally says I would rather die than have any of my money go to Mexicans or welfare queens. Since it’s based on actual long-term research it’s one of the better books I’ve read about this sort of topic. I give it a 9 out of 10.

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