I am 67 this year and my wife is 64. Without the "miracle" of surgeries we've had would we be alive? While none were directly life-threatening, they would have killed us a few centuries ago. My hernias could have strangulated, we would have lose our first child without modern C-sections--or he would have been severely damaged (cord around his neck), her hysterectomy prevent bleeding out, etc, etc, etc. And, of course, Covid. I'm now on a 2nd course of Paxlovid because it flared up again after the 1st course was finished--and that's despite have 2 mRNA vaccinations and 3 mRNA boosters (including Omicron), I STILL caught it.
How much of this is because we live in our wonderful bubble? I
n my extended family, my 93 year old MIL is the last, since my father's youngest cousin just passed in her late 90's, and my wife's last aunt passed at around 90. Our generation--the boomers--have only lost 3, maybe 4. My wife's cousin of heart disease, another cousin of hers who vanished years ago and MAY be dead, and another of her cousins who died in the first Covid wave after stupidly insisting on going to their synagogue that was an early cluster. And I lost a cousin to Leukemia back in 1973--she was only 21.
It is my firm conviction that our ability to live so much longer than in previous centuries is due to two factors that cannot exist alone, but must exist together:
1st--The dynamic equilibrium of a true competitive compromising democracy, where laws are fairly imposed and enforced by executive, legislative and judicial entities, allowing for debate and the freedoms we recognize as "Western Democracy" that reaches from Japan to South Korea to Taiwan, to Australia and New Zealand, to parts of South America, most of North America, and, of course, Western Europe.
2nd--Free Scientific inquiry into virtually everything. There will always be freeloaders, cheats, and corporations that will GLADDLY let patients die rather than lower gouging prices on life-saving medicines, (See today's NYT art on Humira which costs $88,000/year and made $114 billion SINCE its patents theoretically expired). Everything from vaccines to anti-biotics to modern mRNA vaccines, surgical techniques, etc--all of modern medicine and ways to stay healthy have come from our "Western Democracies". Cuba being the very rare exception.
But as Western Democracies fall under threat, here, the UK, Italy, France, have fallen in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and failing in Greece, such progress falls back with it. And we see it. The US "The Greatest Nation in the World" mainly leads in GDP and military spending, but is falling behind in health care--unless you're in the elite or near-elite. Infant mortality in the US is about the same as Cuba, and far worse than all the other Western Democracies and this tracks directly to the rise of the radical reactionaries who misleadingly call themselves "Conservatives" when there's nothing conservative about them. Just as an example: 1.1 million Americans have died from Covid in just 3 years, when, had PROPER containment measures been put in place, that number would have 1/10th of that. Had Trump been re-elected that number would EASILY have reached 2 million because of his idiocy and fundamental evilness.
So as our Democratic Republic continues to hang on a thread, that everyday threatens to break, we shall continue to see our life-expectancy fall, our risk of not receiving available treatments for disease increase, it will all fall apart.
We've seen that in the greatest populations with either no democracy or failing democracy, their efforts at stopping Covid have been feeble--China, Brazil, India, Russia, and their medical research has either been faulty, or non-existent.
That's my thesis.
"Even if the bee could explain to the fly why pollen is better than shit, the fly could never understand."