President Obama insists that his administration has been working day and night to resolve the oil spill crisis ever since the BP oil platform exploded in the gulf. He has been adamant that BP will be responsible for all of the losses sustained. "If laws are inadequate, laws will be changed," Obama said. "If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice." And Obama promised to hold BP accountable for the costs of the damage. "We will make sure they pay every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf Coast," he said. Such statements tend to give comfort and hope to those in the Gulf impacted by this catastrophe. Only time will tell if such promises have any basis in fact.
It has been nearly two years since the financial collapse of Wall Street. This was also a crisis of monumental proportions. Millions of Americans have lost their businesses, their homes, and their jobs. Did the U.S. Government mobilize resources to insure that those who were impacted would be made whole again? No. Did they hold those responsible for the crisis accountable, changing laws to make sure it never happens again? No. Did they force the banks to compensate those whose lives were turned upside down? No.
Aside from bailing out the banks, temporarily preserving thousands of public service jobs, and extending unemployment benefits at taxpayers expense, virtually nothing has been done to help those who have been most severely impacted by this crisis. There are no jobs programs to help people get back to work. No one is helping those displaced from their homes to put a roof over their heads. Nearly two years after this crisis pepole are running out of time. They have exhausted their savings and they are losing their unemployment benefits. Bank of America is not handing out $5000 checks to save businesses or to replace lost income. There is no safety net for victims of the financial crisis.
In 2007, there were 33,185 suicides according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that was before the financial collapse. (More current data is unavailable.) In 2009, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) received 630,000 calls, up about 15% from last year on top of a 36% increase in 2008. Experts estimate about 90% of those who kill themselves have a mental-health disorder, most often depression or substance abuse. Obviously, when someone loses their home and their income, they become depressed. And those with mental health issues are also likely to be the most insecure in their jobs and in their finances. Where is the help for those who have nothing left and those who have nowhere to go?
The number of suicides tends to rise with a state's unemployment rate, said Christopher J. Ruhm, an economist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who has studied the health effects of recessions. His research suggests that for every one percentage point increase in a state's unemployment rate, the number of suicides increases 1.3%, "What I actually find is there's an effect pretty quickly," Mr. Ruhm said, "but that effect builds a bit over time."
That was the case during the Great Depression when the suicide rate rose sharply only in subsequent years. The U.S. recorded 15.3 suicides per 100,000 people in 1929, rising to 17 in 1930 and 18.6 in 1932, according to U.S. Vital Statistics reports from those years. The suicide rate in 1933, when the unemployment rate was 25%, was higher than any year since.
The lack of relief for the unemployed and for those displaced from their homes is unconscionable. The hard times have exacerbated their plight. Most are in need of mental health counseling, financial assistance, housing assistance, or reemployment assistance. The lack of support given to those most in need is a crime against humanity - it is literally killing our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our fathers and mothers. Who will "make them whole"?
The gulf oil spill has diverted attention and resources away from the economic crisis and other problems, and it is proper to hold BP accountable for all of the damage and hardship they have caused. As a nation, should we not expect the same standard to be applied to the financial crisis? It has damaged the people and the nation beyond repair and further lack of action will only insure a lingering crisis, punctuated by more suicides, civil disorder, and increased crime.
The administration's lack of attention to these issues is especially disturbing considering the magnitude of the problem. If they had any integrity whatsoever, they would recognize that the gulf oil crisis and the financial crisis both grew from the same seed. Both require the same kind of solutions and both require special compensation for those affected. Every time the President speaks about what BP needs to do resolve this problem, we should ask him what he thinks the banks are doing to provide relief to the victims of the economic collapse.
source: Wall Street Journal
Early Data Suggest Suicides Are Rising