Thursday, May 2, 2013





I collect reports on this sort of stuff—have been for years--and have to say that the findings are both consistent and alarming.

Add in the fact that this is not a healthy population, and that Americans die younger than their peers in most developed countries, and a reasonable person might conclude that we have a serious crisis—in terms of casualties, on a par with a major war.

It gets worse. Our costs of dealing with this crisis are nearly twice as high as anywhere else in the world—for a generally inferior service (unless you are wealthy). And concurrent with that, while medical costs are going up at rates which are consistently above inflation, most Americans are steadily getting poorer. That adds up to crunch-time sooner rather than later—and, as normal, we are doing virtually nothing about it. In fact, we don’t even seem to accept that we have a crisis.

I believe that we have a holistic problem and that treating one facet of the problem alone—like Healthcare—is just not good enough. We need to deal with the issues concurrently, and thoroughly, with the same sort of focus that was displayed in WW II.

The salient point is that all these issues are connected. So what are they?

  • Environmental pollution on a massive scale which not only harms people directly, but also contaminates the air, the earth, and everything that grows.
  • Factory farming based upon techniques which favor quantity as well as quality. As a consequence, the quality of our raw material has been severely debased and, in may cases, is actively harmful.
  • A food industry that takes these sub-par ingredients and further debases them through adding too much fat, sugar and salt—then over-processing the result.
  • A fast food industry that has been proven repeatedly to be harmful.
  • Lifestyles that are known to be unhealthy.
  • Healthcare which is overpriced and rapidly becoming unaffordable.
  • A corporate culture which is focused solely on profits to the exclusion of the public good—and which has demonstrably failed to solve the issues described despite decades during which corporations have had every opportunity to balance their responsibilities.
  • A highly ignorant and much manipulated population.
  • A Congress that is prevented from acting because it is in thrall to corporate interests.
  • Corporate owned media which are both constrained and unwilling to raise the problem in its entirety.

So how do I know all this? The data are out there—and you just have to read them. Also, I have had the advantage of living in a number of other countries so have observed how they do things.

I’m not the only person who feels this way. Talk-show host Bill Maher comments regularly that we are poisoning ourselves—as do nationally known writers like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman (albeit not quite so directly). Many others write regularly about the deficiencies of our food chain. Similarly, many private citizens are greatly concerned. Just not enough to pressure Congress to deal with some pretty evil and dangerous corporate practices.

Adding excessive fat, salt, and sugar to the profound detriment of our health is only a small part of it—as is over-processing and the habit of padding out ingredients with soy and other fillers. If you really knew what goes into American food, you would feel in fear of your life—and you would be right. But the actual cause of death will be stated as something like cancer or heart disease.

The situation is broadly similar to smoking. Smoking—like American food—does not kill directly. Both work  through lethal intermediaries. You still die just as unpleasantly.

Few treat the problem holistically. I‘m not quite sure why that is because the linkage is self-evident—and well proven.

I have not listed a single issue that can’t be reduced to manageable proportions within a decade—but we seem to have lost the art of mounting a great national effort other than war.

It’s a great shame that Americans are not aware how many harmful chemicals and processes, which are freely used in the U.S., are banned elsewhere for health reasons.

We are being suckered—and it’s killing us.

The U.S. can be, and should be, so much better than this.



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