Art by Rob Goldstein

Lethal Neglect: American Eugenics in the 21st Century

First posted May 2016

In 1918 the American Eugenics Movement proposed extreme poverty as a means of executing undesirables and mental defectives.

Eugenicists called it Lethal Neglect or Lethal Selection

“Selection by death may result either from inadequate food supply, or from some other lethal reason. ” Review of Applied Eugenics, By Paul Popenoe and Roswell H. Johnson, Eugenical News (vol. 4)

A page from Applied Eugenics by Paul Popenoe, that recommends using poverty to reduce the population of 'inferior people'
A page from Applied Eugenics by Paul Popenoe.

Nazi Germany was the most extreme expression of a global movement started by wealthy Americans in the late 1800’s.

The American Eugenics Movement provided the template for Nazi Germany.

The use of the Warsaw Ghetto in Nazi occupied Poland meets the criteria for mass murder by Lethal Neglect.

“On October 12, 1940, the Germans decreed the establishment of a ghetto in Warsaw. The decree required all Jewish residents of Warsaw to move into a designated area, which German authorities sealed off from the rest of the city in November 1940. The ghetto was enclosed by a wall that was over 10 feet high, topped with barbed wire, and closely guarded to prevent movement between the ghetto and the rest of Warsaw. The population of the ghetto, increased by Jews compelled to move in from nearby towns, was estimated to be over 400,000 Jews. German authorities forced ghetto residents to live in an area of 1.3 square miles, with an average of 7.2 persons per room. ” Holocaust Encyclopedia

Nothing was allowed through the wall; no water, no food, no medical care and no way out.

The Nazi’s took daily photographs of the residents to document their decline.

In January 1942, nearly 6,000 people – and perhaps 100,000 people, 1939 to 1942 – died of starvation and disease in the ghetto.  The Warsaw Ghetto, 1940-3

The American Eugenics movement was such a powerful global movement that Nazis on trial at Nuremberg after World War II cited American Eugenics programs as a defense of their policies and mentioned Buck v. Bell in their testimony.

This brings us to today:

After 40 years of the passive neglect of the mentally ill the GOP is openly embracing policies that will cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.


A young well dressed man on a cell phone passes a homless man sitting on the sidewalk in San Francisco.
And the streets are perfectly clean

Oct 5, 2017Republicans let health insurance expire for 9 million American children.

Life Unworthy of Life
Lethal Neglect: the failure to provide the goods or services necessary for functioning or to avoid harm.

Oct 12, 2017  Trump signs new executive order to sabotage the ACA

Photograph of an elderly homeless man staggering as he pushes a heavy shopping cart through Clarion Alley in San Francisco
Lethal Neglect is targeting specific people for death by poverty.


Former KKK wizard David Duke, for example, has been proclaiming on Twitter that Trump’s election and cabinet picks are the first steps toward “taking America back” — that is, taking America “back” from anyone who isn’t descended from fair-skinned Europeans. In white nationalist ideology, only white Americans have a true right to the country — and the rights that go along with citizenship, like voting. Think Progress

“For almost three generations people, in some cases, have been given handouts,” Johnston said. “They have been ‘enabled’ so much that their paradigm in life is simply being given the stuff of life, however meager.”

“What you see is a setting for a life of misery is life to them never-the-less,” he continued. “No one has the guts to just let them wither and die. No one who wants votes is willing to call a spade a spade. As long as the Dems can get their votes the enabling will continue. The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether. It is really a political Catch-22.” Indiana Republican John Johnston

Indiana Republican: ‘No One Has the Guts’ to Let the Poor ‘Wither and Die’

Photograph of a disabled homeless man with his arm in a cast sleeping on a filthy mattress on a street in San Francisco
San Francisco shows its guts


(c) Rob Goldstein 2016-2017 all rights reserved























51 thoughts on “Lethal Neglect: American Eugenics in the 21st Century

  1. So amazing of you to put the spotlight on these issues, how the mentally ill and the poor are so discriminated against, looked down upon, etc. It is horrible. I don’t live in the US, but I have been there a couple of times for vacation and heard from some friends there, that the public health and welfare resources are very scarce for people with poor health and/or very low/nonexistent income. It is a bit hard for me to really get the whole picture of this, as I live in Scandinavia where we still have quite a lot of public safety nets in system for the general public… but, yes, there has been a lot of cutbacks and downsizing. Psychiatric care is harder to qualify for, etc, here, too. There are more and more voices moving from “Everyone should have a place to live, it is a human right” >>> to “Everyone has to take care and provide for themselves”. I am very scared about this “progress”.

    I am very glad you are raising awareness about these issues. I do believe people have their own responsibility, of course. But at the same time, I believe people have different mental and emotional resources to cope with the world and getting by. Not everyone can survive the “law of the jungle”. That is why i am in favor of strong safety nets in society. We used to call it solidarity….
    Once again, thanks for making people think about these things! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sick are responsible for using all the available resources for getting well. The well are responsible for making all resources available to maintain and restore health. We cannot hold people responsible for not getting well when we actively work to prevent that from happening. Thank you for reading this and leaving a comment… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. After reading over the article with my text reader, and the experiences I’ve had over the past 23 years working with people who have developmental disabilities, there is a truth about government funding we need to remember.

    In 1993, funding was poured into the crisis du jour, developmental disabilities. I will never forget the sentiment of one seasoned state employee regarding our “good fortune.” He asked if it was better for people to continue their lives as they were, or to know what it was like to have all that they needed and then lose it all again when the money dried up.

    At the time, I was appalled. Now, I understand what he was trying to say.

    For 15 years after I started working in the field, people were taken from institutions and moved into group homes or supported living. One person finally moved into a 3 person group home, a move that changed the person in many positive ways. Then, around 8 years ago, the funding dried up. This person had to move to a much larger group home and the results created needless suffering. Paperwork is a nightmare that has increased as funding has dropped, and although there are services “available” (such as companion) the miniscule funding makes it impossible to pay for gasoline to run a van with a lift and, therefore, excludes greater community access for people in wheelchairs or access for people who need greater supervision and have to go into the community alone.

    This year, mental health is the crisis du jour. Perhaps there will be a 15 year window of opportunity for assistance, but if history teaches us anything it’s that funding goes in cycles and the words that once appalled me in 1993 will unfortunately ring true again..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear what you’re saying and it sounds like you’re describing a social pathology. People with disabilities remain the same but the people around us change based on the whim of the moment. We need visionary leaders. When we fund a series of programs designed to better the lives of a group of people we’ve harmed as a community then we must build automatic renewals for funding into the legislation. We must treat the lives of people with disabilities the same consideration for human frailty and random adversity that we give to our houses and automobiles. But in answer to that mans question: if I’d had even a decade of well funded access to advanced treatments when I was in my thirties I might not be dealing with DID now…so my life would have been better.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes…I have. I’m fortunate to have had a good case manager at a time when the healthcare industry in San Francisco was gearing up for the Affordable Care Act. Not many people realize that the ACA is designed to force HOMO’s to comply with federal parity laws for mental illness. Not many people know that we have Federal Parity Laws.

        Prior to the ACA many large health care providers were not complying with federal parity laws and getting away with it.

        So I had a good case manager who had a background in psycho-dynamic psychotherapy and she was willing to write a medical necessity to have my psychotherapy covered.

        The other thing I should add is that prior to becoming symptomatic I worked for the public mental health system so I knew the laws that governed access to treatment and also have no problem advocating for myself when pressed.

        I am very lucky. Had I been slightly more ill or had a less interested case manager my life would look different.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree with you when you say that not everyone is capable of self advocacy. This is one of the reasons I use this blog for advocacy. I am fortunate and I know it. Thank you for your thought provoking comments.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope we can build a network of survivors that can educate the masses. I would love to see someone realize that their voice is their most powerful tool to overcoming fear.

        Rob, when we speak up, speak out, we diminish the power of our pain and we learn how courageous we are. Finding a way to convey that message, to those in need, will be my passion for the rest of my days.

        I commend you for your work. I know how you have impacted my life. There are those in the shadows that want to tell you the same, but they can’t right now. Never stop fighting and I’ll never stop believing.


        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you. I hope that some of the people who read the work I write find a different way to think about what it means to have a psychiatric disability. Our biggest enemy is our own fear and the internalized self loathing that all oppressed people have to shake off. I use the word oppressed in it’s full meaning because being denied treatment, and stripped of everything because your life is considered worthless is oppression. And the people who let it happen are oppressors.

        Everyone should speak out, reject denial of treatment and reject the use of our economic system as a weapon. Above all, reject the premise that the right to refuse treatment has any value to people who don’t know that they are ill. Reject the premise that your loved one’s ‘right’ to refuse treatment is more important than his right to get well.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Good. We need to end this destruction.

        Please feel free to share this if you think it might open other eyes…

        The Eugenics movement was big, well organized, treated as a valid science and taught at Ivy League Universities. It was funded by the wealthiest families in the States.

        The fact that there is no real public discussion of the impact of this movement on current social policies suggests that it might have considerable influence.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thumbup – shocked by seeing it in black and white or should I say black and off-white. Things aren’t good here but I do not know to what extent the same MIND operates here as there. Our Mental health facilities are almost all closed, half way houses and group homes work for those who want them and our government is rapidly adopting America’s marvelous (not) health system.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have been reading about the conservative government. It looks as if your ‘Conservatives’ are more like ours which means they use economic policies as weapons against unwanted people.

        It’s sad…and the only way to change it is for the people of the nation to focus on the goal kicking them out of power, completely.

        They will have to fight because many of their worst enemies will be the deluded targets of those politics.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are absolutely right, Robert, yet it is the same unwanted people – many of them, who do vote conservative, especially the aged. Unfortunately when discussions begin on these issues they lead to nothing. The unwanted are the aged, the disabled, the homeless, the poor, the unemployed. The queer community as a whole unless they are members of the above are safe. At the state level things vary depending upon where you live -Queensland wants to make Open Homosexual relationships and one night stands, etc crimes again. Northern Territory still does not recognise Transgender People as legal, it is still illegal to transition there. ( legally human). Commonwealth Law overrides state Law on certain issues but one needs to prove discrimination first, or move state. We are aged, disabled and transsexual and not taking it lying down and try to teach others how to work the system to force it to do what it pretends to do.


      3. Successfully forcing the system to honor its word is the revolution.

        Human nature is such that we will always act on instinct unless we use intellect to make a conscious decision to behave differently.

        This means that anyone who won’t fight back or who can’t fight back is crushed. It’s not complex.

        The other aspect of human nature is that those with plenty will invariably lose touch with the economic reality of those who don’t have enough.

        Rich liberals don’t suffer from the economic policies of conservatives. They can afford to play politics as a game.

        Political affiliation is incidental to action.

        Of what value is a rich liberal’s concern for the poor is he doesn’t vote?

        The economic policies of exclusion and income inequality hit those on the margins the hardest.

        For us, the difference between a Democrat and a Republican is the difference between eating and not eating.

        It is frustrating when I see democrats pull a split because I and people like me are the ones to suffer.

        We need to make sure that people who call themselves ‘allies’ of the poor understand what is at stake for us.

        If your vote doesn’t count than why is the GOP working so hard to prevent you from voting?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Australia has compulsory voting with certain exemptions so the dynamics are different. The effort put in to sway the public is so pathetically juvenile with all the backbiting and downright misrepresentation that in the end I am usually at a loss since the parties are too close for a remarkable difference in policies. There are numerous minor parties, all giving allegiance to one or other of the big 2 and sometimes it comes down to such as these to make up the numbers for a majority. Smaller Parties have smaller focuses and are usually – in my direct experience, fairly well off folk with private peeves the granting of which will not alleviate the neediest. Allies of the poor are sometimes unsure of what poverty really, truly consists and need to walk in our shoes, live on the pittance some of us are served. Spend a night on the street. Not receive the health care they or their loved ones need to truly know to what it is they are allied.
        Whenever Governments splits or hijacks itself the poor and sick – in all forms -suffer. I really doubt that any real governing is done. Sometimes I watch Parliament on the TV and observe a bunch of preschoolers brawling.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I agree.

        A poor person with as rich liberal as an ally is in sorry ass shape unless the rich liberal truly understands how the slightest shift in policy plays havok with people who are struggling to get by on nothing.

        Cuts to public education has no impact on the rich of either party
        Cuts to public health means nothing to someone who can afford insurance.
        The rich don’t need SNAP
        The rich don’t need Medicare
        The rich don’t need social security

        They can afford to play all or nothing political games.

        I love Susan Sarandon but when she talks about voting for Trump to bring on the revolution I want to scream.

        That’s what rich liberals said when GWB became President.

        They say our votes don’t count.

        If our votes don’t count why does the GOP work so hard to stop us from voting?

        But the newly homeless…

        With rich liberals as allies they’re lost.

        Liked by 1 person

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