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Once I learned about the social determinants of health, I couldn't unlearn them. At my old gig at the public health unit we were always telling each other (and the Ministry of Health, which wasn't thaaaaaat interested in hearing it) 'The single biggest predictor of health is income.' I still say that to myself almost every day.

Lisa Schmeiser

'The single biggest predictor of health is income.'

This is why I can't understand why we in the U.S. enjoy punishing children for their parents' (lack of) income by impairing their health and development. If the people who screamed about the sanctity of life were as vocal and energetic about, say, ensuring free, delicious and healthful breakfasts and lunches for every child in America, every day of the year ...

Ooof, I can't even finish that.

And I can't understand why we punish the working poor by making it so damned hard to breathe clean air, walk on safe streets, work jobs where you can pump breastmilk without being fired or losing wages, or buy fresh food.

I love being a reporter/blogger who covers personal finance, but I really hate the attitude among a percentage of the readership that financial solvency is SOLELY the result of good decisions. It seems deeply superstitious to me, as if the person saying these things thinks, "Well, so long as I don't do [tiny understandable habit], then nothing will happen to me." Those people need to read George Orwell's "The Road to Wigan Pier."

As a country, we are matter-of-fact cruel to anyone who's financially vulnerable. (And have been since our founding, really.) This is why I refuse to call the U.S.A. a Christian nation.


Your comment about "control over your time" is an important one. I was able to fight a traffic ticket just by going to court three times--*but* I had the kind of job where I could just say "not gonna be around this morning" on a day's notice. That wouldn't fly if my job was a Safeway clerk.

Same thing for going to the doctor. I can say "sorry boss, got a doctor's appointment this afternoon" and just bail (with some few exceptions, and I'd know about those in advance.) I think one of the big reasons that poor people have doctor issues is that they *don't* have the kind of jobs you can just ditch without extensive prior arrangements.


In Houston we are trying to help in the food desert area. Big grocers won't open in places where there's no alcohol allowed - close to churches and schools. The council relaxed the rules in January and I'm looking for results but have seen none yet.

I still wonder about the multiple kids thing. I do not understand that.

Lisa Schmeiser

Grace, if you read the linked material, you'll see that the woman in question, Juju, took in five children who were not her own right around the time that her husband broke his leg. So she had seven children to feed. I suppose the alternative was to let the five other children fend for themselves in assorted foster systems?

As for a more general "people on welfare have lots of kids" idea/question ... to quote the excellent research institution, Fairness and Accuracy in the Media, "repeated studies have shown no correlation between benefit levels and women's choice to have children." (http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/five-media-myths-about-welfare/)

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