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Eliot Brenowitz responds to a New York Times editorial about loneliness in America


An Epidemic of Loneliness in America?

Does it exist, and if so, what is the cause, and what can be done?

To the Editor:

Republicans like Senator Ben Sasse blame America’s frayed sense of community on lonely people who no longer go to the gym with the family Friday evenings. Loneliness, however, is a symptom of large changes in society, many caused by policies that Republicans have pursued over decades.

Tax cuts exploded wealth inequality and destroyed any sense that workers and chief executives both benefited from a company’s success. The gutting of labor unions has removed an important forum for community. The replacement of stable lifetime industrial jobs with temporary service jobs has undermined that important source of stable community.

These are all outcomes of Republican policies since the Reagan era. The first step to addressing these societal problems is an honest acknowledgment of their true cause. Going to the gym on Fridays is not going to cure what ails America.

Eliot Brenowitz
The writer is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington.

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