Missing patterns in corporate news: Project Censored’s top 10 underreported stories of 2020 

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5. Gap between richest and poorest Americans largest in 50 years

"In public health, decades of research are coming to a consensus: Inequality kills," DePaul University sociologist Fernando De Maio wrote for Truthout in December 2019.

Even before COVID-19, his research added fine-grained evidence of broad trends highlighted in three prominent governmental reports: The gap between rich and poor Americans had grown larger than ever in half a century, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 annual survey, with dramatic evidence of its lethal impact: people in the poorest quintile die at twice the rate as those in the richest quintile, according to a report by the Congressional General Accounting Office. And this is partly because job-related deaths are increasingly rooted in the physical and psychological toll of low-wage work, as opposed to on-the-job accidents, as documented by the United Nations' International Labor Organization.

All these conditions were made worse by COVID-19, but they could've been seen before the pandemic struck — if only the information hadn't been censored by the corporate media, as Project Censored noted:

As of May 2020, Project Censored has not been able to identify any corporate news coverage on the GAO or Census Bureau reports on inequality and premature mortality, or on the ILO report about work-related illnesses, accidents, and deaths that take place when workers are off-duty.

The August 2019 GAO report was based on health and retirement surveys conducted by the Social Security Administration in 1992 and 2014, looking at those between 51 and 61 years old in 1992, and dividing them into five wealth quintiles.

"[T]he GAO found that nearly half of those (48 percent) in the poorest quintile died before 2014, when they would have been between 73 and 83 years old. Of the wealthiest quintile, only a quarter (26 percent) died," explained Patrick Martin, writing for the World Socialist Web Site.

Death rates increased for each quintile as the level of wealth declined.

It's at the level of cities and communities "that the most striking links between inequality and health can be detected," De Maio wrote. "At the city level, life expectancy varies from a low of 71.4 years in Gary, Indiana, to a high of 84.7 in Newton, Massachusetts — a gap of more than 13 years."

And at the community level, "In Chicago, there is a nine-year gap between the life expectancy for Black and white people. This gap amounts to more than 3,000 'excess deaths'" among Black Chicagoans, due to "heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease. All of these are conditions that an equitable health care system would address," he concluded.

"The poorest Americans are also more likely than their rich counterparts to face illness or premature death due to the inherent dangers of low-wage work," Project Censored noted.

"In 2019, you no longer have to hang from scaffolding to risk your life on the job," María José Carmona wrote for Inequality.org. "Precariousness, stress, and overwork can also make you sick, and even kill you, at a much higher rate than accidents."

She reported on an ILO story that found that less than 14 percent of the 7,500 people who die "due to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions every day" die from workplace accidents.

The greatest risk comes from "increasing pressure, precarious contracts, and working hours incompatible with life, which, bit by bit, continue to feed the invisible accident rate that does not appear in the news," Carmona wrote. "The most vulnerable workers are those employed on a temporary or casual basis, those subcontracted through agencies and the false self-employed. ILO data shows the rate of accidents for these employees to be much higher than for any others."

As of May 2020, Project Censored has not been able to identify any corporate news coverage on the GAO or Census Bureau reports on inequality and premature mortality, or on the ILO report about work-related illnesses, accidents, and deaths that take place when workers are off-duty.



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