public health history

The history of the distribution of wealth has always been deeply political, and it cannot be reduced to [how free markets “naturally work on their own”].

In particular, the reduction of inequality that took place in … developed countries between 1910 and 1950 was … a consequence of war and of policies adopted to cope with the shocks of war. Similarly, the resurgence of inequality after 1980 is due … to the political shifts of the past several decades, especially in regard to taxation & finance.

The history of inequality is shaped by [how people] view what is just and what is not, as well as by [their] relative power ….…


Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty (Arthur Goldhammer, trans.)

(highlights, [], and … are mine)

Why It Took Decades of Blaming Parents Before We Banned Lead Paint

As with soda, demanding that all mechanisms of harm be completely understood before regulations are put in place is frightening.

Some died slow deaths. Others went into convulsions. Tens of thousands yet to be born were at risk of permanent damage. 

Lead paint initially seemed harmless. The lead pigment that lent color and texture to the oil that formed its base made up as much as 70 percent of a can of paint. As little as a thumbnail-sized chip, though, could send kids into convulsions. But that didn’t mean anyone was doing anything. And there was a reason.

Since the 1920s, the lead industry had organized to fight bans, restrictions, even warnings on paint-can labels. It had marketed the deadly product to children and parents, spreading the lie that lead paint was safe. For decades, paint ads appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, and other national magazines and local newspapers. Coloring books were handed out to children. The industry even sent Dutch Boy costumes to children on Halloween, and printed coloring books that showed children how to prepare it.

The lead industry even claimed that the problem was not with the paint but with the “uneducable Negro and Puerto Rican” parents who “failed” to stop children from placing their fingers and toys in their mouths.

(From The Atlantic)