Your Zip Code Predicts How Long You’re Going To Live

This map of Chicago from The Economist on the right shocked me as the magazine makes the point that if you take a ride along Chicago’s red line– a rail service running north-south for 23 miles– life expectancy varies by 30 years from one end to the other!

Thirty years! In a developed country! In the richest country in the world! And it’s not all caused by the epidemic of opioid addiction and the NRA-GOP worship of fire arms.

In the last decade, Chicagoland stopped sending Republicans to Congress. But there are still more worthless conservatives representing the area than there should be. If Dan Lipinski is the most notorious, he isn’t the only one.

Goal ThermometerBlue America has 4 strong progressive candidates running in primaries that we’ve endorsed against 4 Democratic incumbents who are not part of the solution–

  • Marie Newman vs Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
  • Kina Collins vs Danny Davis (IL-07)
  • Robert Emmons vs Bobby Rush (IL-01)
  • Rachel Ventura vs Bill Foster (IL-011)​

We asked all four to look at the map and help us understand it.

Marie– who is running for the seat occupied by Lipinski– was the first to respond. “Environmental, economic and racial injustices are clear and stark in the Chicago area. This affects my district, IL-03– the southwest side of the city and suburbs– dramatically and everyday. My platform was built on addressing the environmental crises in my district as well as the income divide and addressing hate head on. We need to create equality and we need to do it now.”

That probably has something to do with presidential candidates Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker endorsing Marie’s campaign– not to mention congressional superstars AOC and Ro Khanna, despite warnings from the DCCC not to.

Kina Collins may not be as well known yet, but we’ve got to change that. In fact, even before The Economist published the map, she was the first to talk with me about the huge disparity in life expectancy and told me it went into her decision to run for Congress:

“In IL-07 we have the largest life expectancy gap in the country from Streeterville with an average age of 90 years just 10 miles south to Englewood with an average life expectancy of 60 years. I am running on a healthcare reform platform to address this health inequity not only in Chicago, but across the country. Your ZIP code should not determine whether you get quality healthcare or not, and we must address the institutional racism and inequity that is built into the healthcare system. Before I announced my candidacy for Congress, I worked as the National Organizer for Physicians for a National Health Program, a national non profit of 20,000 doctors and medical students fighting to secure a single payer medicare for all system. Healthcare is everything, from the water we drink to the air we breathe. That’s why, when elected I will work to close the healthcare equity gap by supporting Medicare-For-All and a Green New Deal.” 

While canvassing in New Lenox yesterday, Rachel Ventura told me that “One’s life expectancy, chances of getting into college, or median household income should not be determined by the zip code you live in. This map underscores the need for a single-payer, improved Medicare for All system that provides high quality healthcare for every resident of the United States. Additionally, one might consider that life expectancy is negatively impacted in poor areas because of increased levels of pollution. While there are no multiple shades of red to parse out life expectancy in the 11th Congressional District, I am certain that residents who live near the Will County refineries (Citgo and Exxon Mobile) or coal ash pits have lower life expectancy rates. I’m sure that those who live in the more affluent parts of the 11th district retire earlier, earn more money, have access to higher levels of education and better healthcare. We need to close the wealth gap, pass the green new deal and win Medicare for All. This won’t happen with a multi-millionaire representing the district who opposes these substantial changes.”

Robert Emmons is running in the first congressional district. He lost his best-friend to gun violence in 2015. Robert told me “his death was (statistically speaking) predictable. It was predictable because he was living in a society that failed him– and our community– at every turn. Our economic system failed him, our education system failed him, our racist criminal justice failed him. Let’s be clear, his murder was 100% preventable. It was preventable with a living wage, universal pre-k, Medicare-for-All, and a Green New Deal. We must approach the epidemic that is gun violence as a public health crisis, and then eradicate the disease once and for ALL.

Zip code should not define whether or not you live or die. When we elect progressives to Congress, we send that message loud and clear.”


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