I try. I really do. But sometimes I just can’t help it. As much as I want to leave the political stuff to political writers, every once in a while I’ve got to speak up. According to findings of a new study, education levels and socioeconomic status have important yet different effects on health.
According to the study, a person’s education level independently (when adjusted for income) determined a person’s likelihood of becoming ill or disabled. OK, no problem there. We know that the more educated a person is, the more likely he or she will know which behaviors are health enhancing and which are detrimental. Further, more education leads to a better understanding of various and alternative therapies, thus leading to a greater probability of self-empowerment when it comes to one’s health.
Socioeconomic status, on the other hand, determined how a person’s illness would progress. Whether an illness became chronic and how likely a person was to die during the study also depended on one’s income level. For instance, ill or disabled people with annual incomes below $10,000 were three times more likely of their illness progressing than people earning $30,000 or more per year. Also no surprises here, as lower income individuals are less likely to seek out or afford quality health care.
However, here is what I take exception to: According to Dr. Pamela Herd of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the study’s lead author, the findings are “really about the way that poverty has negative ramifications for health,” noting that poor people may live in worse housing, have a more difficult time obtaining healthy foods, and have a tougher time getting health care. And poverty can increase stress levels, she adds, which in itself can worsen health.
Uh, and how about the other factor? Like how being financially stable, let alone wealthy, requires focus, discipline, and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. All the same things needed to achieve and maintain good health. It also requires being proactive and empowering oneself in many areas including education, finance, professional life, social life, family life, and spiritual life. How about that?
I know that’s not the PC thing to say. Oh no, it’s much more correct to say that being “stuck” in poverty is a form of victimization; poor people being at the mercy of circumstance, of which they have very little, if any, control at all. Moreover, for one to pull oneself out of poverty, or at least survive, is highly dependent on social and governmental change. I guess this means socialized…oops, I mean universal health care. Says Dr. Herd, “We already know what people need to do to be healthier. What we talk about a lot less is what kind of structural changes need to be made for people’s health to improve.”
What a bunch of baloney. No doubt, education and economic levels enormously influence health. But I hardly think it’s because people don’t have medical care at their fingertips. Hell, in a lot of ways, those that don’t are the lucky ones; at least they can investigate other options. More likely, those people who diligently focus on their mental growth, and in turn their financial growth (even if it’s relatively modest), also focus on their physical health (to varying degrees, of course). And, in general, they probably treat their health with the same care and discipline that they approach other aspects of their lives.
There, I’ve said it and I’m sticking by it. This isn’t a belligerent bout of insensitivity at all; no sir. It’s an observation that any type of growth requires work–hard work–as well as focus, discipline, and a burning desire for evolution, despite one’s obstacles (we’ve all got obstacles, and money is simply one of the many in existence). Achieving and maintaining great health also requires these same things. And the power is in the individual. Everything else is just a cop out.