Quick poem after reading half of Gopnik on the AgeLab and gene therapy for beagles

Preganant woman, portrait, reed pen on kraft paper, by William EatonThey’re going to get rid of mortality

For the rich

Before they get rid of poverty

For the poor


It’s not complicated: the rich can pay

The poor cannot

But you want to know about the middle class!

The poor will die of natural causes


Though I’m not going to call poverty natural

It’s man-made, as we used to say

But you want to know about the middle class!

We’ll just have to be killed


When we run out of money

No, that’s not right

The government will continue to pay

The hospitals, drug companies, doctors, etc.


Lots of money will be made keeping us alive

Until the government runs out of money

And then we will have to be killed

With pills


Which we or the government will pay for

So you begin to see how immortality

Is going to be affordable

For the rich

— Poem and drawing by William Eaton

Adam Gopnik article that kicked this poem off: Can We Live Longer but Stay Younger? (Subtitle: With greater longevity, the quest to avoid the infirmities of aging is more urgent than ever.) The New Yorker, 13 May 2019.

See also: “[P]overty is a far more important cause of shortened life expectations in the United States than smoking, but it is smoking that gets all the attention).” David Harvey, Marxism, Metaphors, and Ecological Politics, Monthly Review, March 1, 1998. And this might lead some to my own Class Warfare Poverty Death, Zeteo, December 1, 2015. Two bits from that piece:

  • Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
  • In the United States, the number of deaths attributable to low education is comparable to the number caused by acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).

That piece is accompanied by a few images from the photographs taken by Nick Hedges for Shelter, a housing and homelessness charity in Scotland. For more, see Nick Hedges’ photographs for Shelter 1969-72.

Please check out the new site, full of artworks! And you can follow it, too.

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