Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

Hard Facts

Photo by Kevin McCartney

I love this country.  I get a little teary when I first see the American flag flying after a trip abroad, or when “The Star Spangled Banner” rings out over an Olympic podium or a baseball field.  My US passport is my most prized possession. I pay my taxes willingly as “The price one pays for freedom” per Ben Franklin.

Still, some facts are hard for me to face:

  • The United States US has the shortest life expectancy of 21 developed nations – 77 years, compared to top-ranked Switzerland at 83 years. (per a Town Crier article 6/2/22)
  • The United States has the highest infant mortality rate of the top 8 developed nations -5.9/1000, almost triple that of top-ranked Japan at 2.0 fatalities/1000 (World Health Organization)
  • The United States has the least effective health-care system overall among 11 high-income countries, even though it spends the highest proportion of its gross domestic product -almost 17%- on health care. (based on % of population covered for core needs, life expectancy, infant mortality rates – the Commonwealth Fund). 
  • The United States has the highest level of income inequality of the seven G7 countries, out-ranked world-wide only by Russia, India, and Brazil.  (Brink News, Credit Suisse Global Wealth Data book)  Income inequality in the United States is at its highest level in fifty years, and increasing. (US Census Bureau, 2018 figures.)

And for me the most troubling facts, because they hit close to home and seems so preventable:

  • In the United States the #1 cause of death in those under 18 is gunshot wounds
  • People living in a household with a gun owner are seven times as likely to be shot and killed as those in a gun-free home. (Stanford University study of nearly 18 million Californians).
  • Handguns were used in three out of four US suicides in 2018.
  • Despite claims from anti-gun-control groups that better mental health care, is the solution to gun violence, the amount  the United States spends on mental health is only 5% of total health care spending. 

I’m waiting for legislators opposed to the Affordable Care Act to propose their modifications or improvements to the coverage.

I’m waiting for the legislature to provide funding for those small local treatment centers which were supposed to be more effective than the state mental hospitals that were closed.  

I’m waiting for those who claim mental disturbance is behind gun violence to explain why someone with a history of mental disturbance should be able to buy a gun anyway.

I’m waiting to see Texas GovernorRon deSantis’ proposed legislation for increased funding for mental health services.

I’ll probably be waiting for a long time to come.  But the facts keep getting harder.

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3 thoughts on “Hard Facts

  1. One step at a time, if only we could walk.

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  2. Chantal Renard-Henry on said:

    Thank you, Allyson. You are brave. And…. So YOUNG! 😅 I am glad to know you. With love, Chantal. (how is Winifred?)

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  3. Ann A. Duwe on said:

    Dear Allyson
    Your June 29 column in the Town Crier was bold and true. As a nation we seem bent on making ourselves into a third world country.
    Ann Duwe, Los Altos Hills

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