NPR Pushes Euro-Left Policy Cloaked as U.S. Health Concern: ‘Live Free AND Die?’

March 29th, 2023 7:41 AM

NPR health reporter Selena Simmons-Duffin ran down America on Monday's Morning Edition under the online headline “'Live free and die?' The sad state of U.S. life expectancy.” As that extreme, tasteless headline suggests, the posted version snuck in left-wing ideology under the guise of health concern, hovering around the belief that to boost American life expectancy, we must pass laws and policy to make us more like left-wing Europe.

Just before Christmas, federal health officials confirmed life expectancy in America had dropped for a nearly unprecedented second year in a row -- down to 76 years. While countries all over the world saw life expectancy rebound during the second year of the pandemic after the arrival of vaccines, the U.S. did not.


Across the lifespan, and across every demographic group, Americans die at younger ages than their counterparts in other wealthy nations.

This is NPR, so no one suggested this would be embarrassing for the Biden administration. This was simply America's failure in general:

One group of people are not surprised at all: Woolf and the other researchers involved in a landmark, 400-page study ten years ago with a name that says it all: "Shorter Lives, Poorer Health." The research by a panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences and funded by the National Institutes of Health compared U.S. health and death with other developed countries. The results showed – convincingly – that the U.S. was stalling on health advances in the population while other countries raced ahead.

"Shorter lives, poorer health" is related to America's failure to be "progressive." U.S. life expectancy is not a matter of the health system failing the sick and elderly, but instead relate to issues only peripherally related to health care.

A big part of the difference between life and death in the U.S. and its peer countries is people dying or being killed before age 50. The "Shorter Lives" report specifically points to factors like teen pregnancy, drug overdoses, HIV, fatal car crashes, injuries, and violence.

"Two years difference in life expectancy probably comes from the fact that firearms are so available in the United States," [USC professor Eileen] Crimmins says. "There's the opioid epidemic, which is clearly ours – that was our drug companies and other countries didn't have that because those drugs were more controlled. Some of the difference comes from the fact that we are more likely to drive more miles. We have more cars," and ultimately, more fatal crashes.

"When we were doing it, we were joking we should call it 'Live free and die,' based on the New Hampshire slogan, ['Live free or die']," Crimmins says. "The National Academy of Sciences said, 'That's outrageous, that's too provocative.' "

But the line wasn't too outrageous or provocative for NPR. It was headline material! 

America’s supposed health problems weren’t really health problems in the conventional sense, though NPR wouldn’t say so directly.

Yes, Americans eat more calories and lack universal access to health care. But there's also higher child poverty, racial segregation, social isolation, and more. Even the way cities are designed makes access to good food more difficult.

Then came the left-wing policy proposals from Europe.

Some of the policies he's identified as helpful include universal, better coordinated health care, strong health and safety protections, broad access to education, and more investments to help kids get off to a healthy start. These policies are "paying off for them," he says, and could for Americans, too.