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This is a much more serious issue than we seem to be willing to accept.
It combines our basic ability to function as productive human beings, with vast economic and lifestyle penalties (if we cannot perform at least as well as our peers in other countries).
This is not just about physical health – as generally considered – because it relates directly to our intellectual productivity as well. Where most of us are concerned, we need to be adequately fit and healthy to perform at our intellectual optimum.
The exact situation varies by the person, but if many Americans are in mediocre health, then the drag on our collective national performance can be imagined. We don’t think as well as we might; we don’t learn as fast as we could; we don’t innovate as effectively as we might; and our reasoning abilities are adversely affected. And to cap it all, our longevity is impacted.
An ever increasing body of evidence points to the fact that we don’t have to imagine such a subpar future. We’re already living it, and experiencing its consequences; and the trends are adverse.
The evidence would take a book to summarize, but let me give some examples:
- The fact that our infant mortality rate is excessively high.
- That fact that over 70 percent of young Americans of recruitment age are unfit for military service.
- The obesity epidemic.
- The fact that roughly half the adult population that has health insurance is on legal medication.
- The fact that about a quarter of the adult population is on anti-depressants.
- The fact that the evidence indicates that Americans, compared to other populations seem to be sicker as we get older.
- The fact that our longevity is lower than that of most other developed nations.
Why does this situation exist? To answer that question one has to think about the problem holistically. Diet, smoking, lifestyle, pollution and working conditions are just some of the factors involved, as is our mediocre and excessively costly health care system combined with mass ignorance, plus a culture that believes that the solution to every ill is a pill rather than prevention.
It is noteworthy that most of the above factors involve corporate greed in some way. If we allow our corporations to do virtually anything (on the altar of unfettered capitalism), and accept the notion that a corporation’s only duty is to make money for its shareholders, then we should scarcely be surprised that our health will be sacrificed in the process. And that is exactly what is happening.
The threat of terrorism is as nothing compared to this ongoing, self inflicted, self-evident, national catastrophe. In terms of human suffering and lives lost, it is, indeed, another holocaust.
And the enemy is us. Yet, apart from tokenism, we seem near oblivious.