You Can’t Fix Stupid, Ignorant, or the Junk Food Industry

This is all going to be preaching to the choir, of course…except for those so-called “Paleos” who imagine government can modify people’s behavior through force and coercion, instead of through individuals and private institutions educating, motivating, encouraging, and setting an example. Seems as though the standard for too many is only to Do Some-thing, with little regard to lasting effectiveness and real change for the better.

So there’s two sides to this coin: let’s call it Heads or Tails—and you know what the tail represents.

HEADS

I had the local KQED public radio station on and caught a segment of a Fresh Air interview with Michael Moss, author of a new book: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. From the book description:

Increasingly, the salt-, sugar-, and fat-laden foods these companies produced were being linked to obesity, and a concerned Kraft executive took the stage to issue a warning: There would be a day of reckoning unless changes were made. This executive then launched into a damning PowerPoint presentation—114 slides in all—making the case that processed food companies could not afford to sit by, idle, as children grew sick and class-action lawyers lurked. To deny the problem, he said, is to court disaster.

When he was done, the most powerful person in the room—the CEO of General Mills—stood up to speak, clearly annoyed. And by the time he sat down, the meeting was over.

Self regulation is a good thing; competition coupled with education about why your product is better than the cheaper one is a good thing. That executives are aware is a good thing. On the other hand, here’s a quote from that General Mills CEO in the NPR / Fresh Air interview:

“[He] got up and made some very forceful points from his perspective,” Moss tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies, “and his points included this: We at General Mills have been responsible not only to consumers but to shareholders. We offer products that are low-fat, low-sugar, have whole grains in them, to people who are concerned about eating those products.

“Bottom line being, though, that we need to ensure that our products taste good, because our accountability is also to our shareholders. And there’s no way we could start down-formulating the usage of salt, sugar, fat if the end result is going to be something that people do not want to eat.”

So this highlights the double-edged-sword nature of massive, publicly traded companies where executives, officers and directors of such corporations can be punished royally by analysts, fund managers, bond and shareholders for not always putting profits first.

And let’s consider another factor. Sony, Apple, Toshiba, Samsung, Westinghouse, General Electric—and auto makers in general—are not the same as Kraft, General Mills, Philip Morris, Unilever, etc. In the first case, the race to competitive profits and market share for shareholders tends to benefit everyone and society and even to some extent, ameliorates or lessens harm to the environment over time. Better, faster, lighter, less expensive, more efficient means a lot of good things for a lot of people: employees, shareholders, consumers, society in general. But what does the race to profits mean in a competitive, mega food-producing environment? Well, I dealt with meat yesterday. Seafood is part of the picture as well.

And guess what? This isn’t your grandmother’s junk food, anymore: 9 Surprising Facts About Junk Food (Mother Jones). Here’s the 9 points, but each one is expounded upon in the article.

  1. The Cheeto is a modern miracle.
  2. Subverting “sensory-specific satiety” is the key to junk-food success.
  3. At least since 1999, the industry has known its products are contributing to a massive public-health crisis.
  4. Like the agrichemical industry, the food industry has become adept at selling questionable solutions to the problems it has generated.
  5. First you find a product that sells, then you find the right cheap ingredients to make it profitable. (Remarkable story about “Lunchables” here)
  6. Your brain reacts to sugar and cocaine in very similar ways.
  7. “Food manufacturers now spend nearly twice as much money on advertising their [breakfast] cereals as they do on the ingredients that go into them.” (guessing: 95 cents of every dollar spent on cerials goes to advertising, overhead, packaging, transportation and inventory)
  8. Tang wasn’t developed for astronauts.
  9. Many of the cereals of my childhood were composed of 50 percent sugar or more.

Do note that I take some of these with a grain of salt (har har) in whole or in part. For example, cocaine and sugar. Unless you can find me a specific brain region that’s called “the cocaine center,” or something like that, I’m going to remain a bit skeptical. More likely, we’re evolutionarily adapted to seek out sweet/sugar for survival and to pack on weight because carrying some extra fat is more survivable and more likely to pass on genes than a skinny runt in December during an ice age.

In short: It’s our adapted survival edge that’s being exploited, not our lack of character, whereby some can’t seem to resist white powder—unless all the powdered snow in the ice age caused some snorting adaptation we’ve yet to discover. The point is, I don’t think these analogies to drugs and whatever of some hormonal effects or some neuron signaling that are caused in some ways similar to various foods or “foods” enhances our understanding.

  1. We have to eat food, good or bad. We don’t have to do any drugs or other socially acceptable stimulants or depressants whatsoever. Go ahead and dump your coffee and wine…and all the hand waving about the “health benefits” are utter BULLSHIT! If you like it, have it, and if you don’t, you’re not compromising anything.
  2. We have to come to understand that more and more of us no longer a) live in an environment of general food scarcity, or b) have to take nearly as much time and effort to procure food, good or bad.

In a sense, it’s as simple as the recognition that sitting on the sofa watching TV, eating a bag of chips and drinking a liter of sugar water is profoundly different than spending the same afternoon standing in an ice cold stream, fly fishing a trout dinner for four—on many levels that go way beyond “eat less move more.” Now multiply that by the number of days in your life (about 19,000 so far, in my case).

We need to re-cultivate a culture of real food-sanctity through education, respect, stewardship, motivation, encouragement and above all: by example. It’s always great to hear Joel Salatin on this issue (YouTubes). On one level, perhaps the simple saying of grace before a good home-cooked meal wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Look, how many times have you been present at the saying of grace over bags from McDonald’s, warmed plastic containers from Lean Cuisine, or a pizza from Round Table? Eh, huh? Food for thought, there? See, we already know! We just need to revive it.

TAILS

Heads or Tails, the Yin needs a Yang…or, somehow, we seem to have to find a way to compromise the Good with the Bad in some semblance of “balance.” Whatever the reason, here’s the bad.

Since that meeting in 1999, when executives declined to craft an industrywide standard for more healthful products, some companies, like Kraft, have tackled the issue unilaterally, altering recipes to cut down on salt, sugar and fat. Moss’ research, however, indicates that government regulation may be necessary to implement industrywide standards in the interest of public health.

“I was surprised to hear from the former CEO of Philip Morris, who is no friend of government, no friend of government regulation,” says Moss, “to tell me that, ‘Look, Michael, in the case of the processed food industry, what you’re looking at is a total inability on their part to collectively decide to do the right thing by consumers on the health profile of their products. In this case, I can see how you might need government regulation if [for] nothing else [than] to give the companies cover from the pressure of Wall Street.’ ”

You know what? Fuck that. Translation: if we go out on our own and make only reasonably good quality food products, exclusively, at a price that returns a profit to investors, we’ll underperform the market—those who don’t follow suit—and Wall Street will hammer us.

I say, leave the stupid and the ignorant to the stupid and the ignorant—because you can never fix it…you have to Darwin yourself out of it (death or enlightenment)—and let Wall Street make as much money as they can off of it. Stop subsidizing health care to treat the downstream consequences. You want an analogy to drugs? Here’s one. How about set up tables everywhere with huge free doses of cocaine, crack, meth, and heroine? Let’s just get this shit over with and focus on those who actually benefit others and society.

Evolve—get smart, cure your ignorance and change your behavior—or die.

Food executives: In the end, you have to decide what sort of food company you’re going to be; a good, wholesome, real food company or a junk food company. If you’re a junk food company, then transition, diversify and eventually shut down your garbage peddling operations. Leave it to the others—leave them to feed the stupid and ignorant and hopefully face the scorn of a more enlightened society in due time. Educate, respect, steward, motivate, encourage and set an example. Who are you, anyway? “We help to destroy people’s lives because everyone does it and we don’t want to be outcompeted in debilitation, disease, destruction and harm?” Really? Because that’s the short of what you’re saying in so many unnecessary words.

…And while you’re at it, execs, check into a Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, or other similar growing chains (oh, yea…that’s probably where you shop for yourselves and your families, right?) and observe that a) none of your products are on the shelves, and b) those who show some real care about what they sell are profitable, growing and above all, command a high level of respect in spite of selling at a higher average price point.

FWIW

This final item is a bit of Heads or Tails in a political context. Again, props to my buddy Karen De Coster who gets her second link in a single post: Palin Went Paleo-Primal.

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Good job, even if you do hold ideas as goofy as a football bat

Heads, from the examiner.com article.

“Our family is writing a book on fitness and self-discipline focusing on where we get our energy and balance as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods,” said Palin, who didn’t say whether she has a book contract yet or when it will be published.

“We promise you what we do works and allows a fulfilling quality of life and sustenance anyone can enjoy.”

Palin, a mother of five, is a longtime runner who follows a high-protein, low-carb diet. “Conventional running is my sanity,” Sarah told Runner’s World in 2009. For most of her adult life, Sarah ran 5-10 miles almost every day, except during her pregnancies, when she switched to aerobic classes.

“My family and I eat a healthy diet heavy in wild Alaskan seafood, moose, caribou and fresh fruit,” said Palin in 2010. [emphasis added]

Tails, for an interesting contrast, given that Palin came close to ending up as VP of these US. Here’s Palin from the same piece (this is Heads, still, but she highlights the Tails).

Despite her own strict workout and diet regimen, Palin has slammed First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” anti-obesity program as an example of the Obamas trying to take away Americans’ “God-given rights to make our own decisions.”

Sarah quipped: “Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife priorities, just leave us alone. Get off our back!”

So in spite of what you think of her philosophy, politics, or political aspirations, seems to me she’s actually leading by example and only example, instead of commanding, strutting around acting the big-butt-cheese.

They’re at it again.

The latest public rant against Michelle Obama’s effort to promote low-calorie school lunches was recently caught on tape in Alabama — the usual protest against the federal government meddling in local business. And then it quickly found its way around to the first lady’s posterior.

“Fat butt Michelle Obama,” said Bob Grisham, a high school football coach who was surreptitiously recorded by one of his students. “Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”

Grisham, who was suspended Monday, is neither the first nor the most high-profile person to feel moved to comment on the first lady’s physique. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly called her Michelle “My Butt” Obama. And Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican, issued an apology after he was caught commenting on her “large posterior.” (Grisham has also said he misspoke.)

I actually think Michelle Obama is rather attractive, in spite of a moderate excess of body fat that deposits in her posterior to the exclusion of most everywhere else. She’s by no means obese and there are plenty of the opposite sex who prefer the full-figure look, even to the point of a bit of plump. Different strokes.

So, to my mind, she ought to either shut up about childhood obesity or, set an example of personal progress, encouragement and motivation. After all, if she’s following the guidelines she suggests to impose or offer-you-can’t-refuse upon food manufacturers, it ‘aint workin’. How about find something that actually works, Michelle? Bury the pride and consult with Sarah. Then, perhaps you’ll see that the food manufacturers can’t help you, but that you can help others in spite of them.

Because from where I sit, Michelle, it looks to me like you’re just as bad as they are—them seeking profits at the expense of respect for being great public companies that benefit society; you, seeking power and prestige at the expense of respect for being a high-profile public figure that sets an example others might be compelled to follow to their benefit.

As it is, Michelle, you’re the junk food manufacturers’ best friend. I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to make this work for both of you: more profits for them, more power and prestige for you and there’s only upside. It’s not like any of this is going to have a political memory.


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38 Comments

  1. JP on March 4, 2013 at 07:01

    You mean that stuff isn’t good for you?

    I agree with you, BTW. I work around a bunch of obese junk food junkies and can’t stand that lifestyle, but I don’t want anyone banning mega-sized sodas in my town, either.

  2. Earl Cannonbear on March 3, 2013 at 21:09

    “CEOs of America’s largest food companies are well aware of the fact, that the bagged, boxed and bottled products they are feverishly pushing onto society, are not only contributing to our obesity epidemic, but to the increase in diabetes and heart disease as well. ”

    These CEO assholes don’t give a shit about anyone or anything but themselves, their greedy stockholders and the almighty dollar… filthy lucre.

    What else is new? It’s hard to deny society is materialistic to the max. Some days I feel like I’m living in a cesspool full of thrill seeking fat fucks. Deracinated useless eaters living for nothing, caring about nothing except for mindless TV shows and irrelevant ball games.

    I would be tempted to support some kind of law if only for the sake of eliminating the visual pollution I have contend with everyday.

    In a real nation, one united by blood and heritage, one consisting of serious adults who care about the fate of their fellow brothers and sisters this situation would be unthinkable.

    Thank God there are still enough responsible citizens around to keep this whole thing afloat.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2013 at 21:45

      Earl

      Oh, my. I think you misused deracinated, BTW, as it a derivative of the French déraciné but I’m not taking time for that rabbit hole.

      Lighten up. Don’t get to be like me. I protest that I hate almost everyone, but I’m a liar. That is to say, I suspect you are too.

      Keep caring enough to add your perspective, even if your rooting for the white folks. In the end or the beginning, I hope that superficiality doesn’t matter but what I do suspect is that you, I, and even CEOs of companies are persuaded, enticed, catered to, and caressed by the paradigms we’re subject to and that escape and change happens slowly.

      Or, given how you characterize CEOs of the comannies who largely feed, shelter, clothe, warm and transport 300 million Americans and billions abroad, what are your thoughts on Hitler, Slalin, Pol Pot, et al? How about Satan?

    • Earl Cannonbear on March 4, 2013 at 11:46

      I have no use for Slalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung or Idi Amin.

      How about Satan?

      I would say I have no use for him either but for some reason I continue to feel compelled to comment on this website from time to time.

  3. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2013 at 21:27

    “Good or bad??”

    Very, very bad. In many ways.

    1. People are not children. Treating them as such will always make for random, unintended consequences beyond the general morass of having to deal with hundreds of millions of children at one time. Because they are not actually children and they do shit, and shit adds up. It can even explode.

    2. Smoking is not healthful. So the fuck what?

    3. This has zero to do with fake concern for the health, well being and care of smokers and their families. It has everything to do with a social system that burdens non- smokers with the health of smokers and even if smoking is not the proximate cause of their debilitation or demise, you can damn well bet where the blame will be placed and if it was a car accident, it was because he was taking a puff.

    4. I hate scape goats and convenience for the sake of going outside and having a smoke rather than thinking,

    I’m probably not the best guy to use that schtick on, Charles, though I generally love your comments here from time to time, this is no exception, and I encourage more and more often. Give it to me. Good volley. It’s just that I’m an an anarchist, for reals. For 20 years for reals and I’ve heard and read every single argument for why the washed are better to tend to the unwashed than the unwashed to themselves and still find it gratuitously selfish because all you or anyone really cares about is that you have to pay for it under pains of sorts.

    Anecdote: I had the pleasure of growing up with 4 grandparents and 1 great grandmother. The great grandmother died first, when I was 28. The other 4, roughly over the next 12 years. They all lived into their 80s, they were all smokers since teenagers, and none died of anythng obviously smoking related,

    Good or bad?

  4. Jen on March 4, 2013 at 08:00

    I shared that Sarah Palin article on Facebook, and one of my friends who went Paleo because she saw my success with replied with “Ugh, I hope she doesn’t ruin Paleo like she ruined respect for smart , powerful, women”. She completely missed the point I was trying to make which was “If she eats real food, and avoids junk, she can’t be as stupid as some people make her out to be. Not saying I agree with her poli-tics but if she’s smart enough not to eat the crap that we’re bombarded with every minute of everyday, that’s more than I’d have expected from her considering the picture most non-Republicans paint/painted of her”.

    Now another friend of mine thinks Palin’s just doing something she doesn’t understand, which could be true, but that wasn’t my point either.

    Talk about two monologues pretending to be dialog!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2013 at 08:15

      Yea, I hate that sort of thing, Jen. Politics really has little to do with this and I guarantee that her example will influence and help a lot of people. Good for her and them. And the same people who take shots at this won’t at Michelle Obama who is harming people for the sake the junk-food-companies. If Michelle was out there saying “these companies and 100% of their products are garbage and bad for you” then that might be something but that will never happen.

      I think it was “Dancing with the Stars” or some dumb show like that where Palin’s daughter was one it and I think was doing a good job I was told, but lots of people couldn’t stand her because she was Palin’s daughter. Unbelievable.

    • Jen on March 4, 2013 at 09:02

      Yes, it is. I’ve been working through Kimura’s Vision In Action website since you posted that video of his and one of the articles talks about how alignment has to do with intent while agreement is about opinions. Palin’s intent is aligned with mine in terms of a real food diet whether I agree with anything else she does. The whole “conversation” about this article on facebook really helped me see some of what Kimura is talking about with people not really having “dialogs” but two-way monologues pretending to be dialogs. If strong opinion is going to make you completely miss what someone else is really saying, that’s just sad. No wonder people can’t “just get along”, most of them look for opinion, instead of intent!

    • Sonagi on March 16, 2013 at 18:50

      There are many kinds of intelligence, hence, the reason why some people display exceptional talent or genius in one particular area. Palin is a naturalist who thrives in the outdoors, a plus for a politican in a state rich in natural resources. She is not knowledgeable about national or world affairs and lacks political acumen, big minuses for a VP candidate.

  5. JP on March 4, 2013 at 08:11

    I’m a small “l” libertarian who has lots of issues with Palin and even more with the Obamas, but let’s be fair…

    The media has a love affair with Michelle. Hardly a day goes by when Yahoo doesn’t talk about how “stunning” she looks in her dress at the latest event or get-together with Hollywood friends. Palin, OTOH, has been the object of a hate-fest from day 1. A journalist even moved next door to her to write a book smearing her family.

    It’s little wonder that Michelle is seen as a modern-day savior for her precious little child obesity thing…while Sarah will continue to get the “wild Alaskan nutjob” label if he gets any attention for the paleo stuff…

  6. MountainDew on March 4, 2013 at 12:21

    Does anyone here think she looks good in the after pic??

    • Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2013 at 12:39

      Yep, I do. Damn good, great improvement.

    • MountainDew on March 4, 2013 at 12:42

      haha yeah, you almost had me going there.

    • Sonagi on March 16, 2013 at 19:01

      I think she looks great in every pic, except the last one; her chest looks unnaturally large compared to the rest of her. Based on my own personal experience with a 30lb weight gain and loss and the experiences of others, I can tell you that no woman loses weight exclusively in one area, and fat lost from the waist and thighs does not migrate up to the breasts naturally although surgeons have experimented with using lower body fat to enlarge the breasts. Once naturally busty Dolly Parton has been candid about getting implants after losing a lot of weight in the 80s.

  7. Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2013 at 19:48

    Charles:

    Let me first clarify something, I’m just against any sort of monopoly agent of force that is magically endowed with powers that individuals don’t have. I’m not nihilist of anything.

    Second, I would not go about “fixing” anything, even if I could, even if I had sooper pow3rz. I don’t proscribe, prescribe, or initiate force or coercion.

    Third, why is it that “health care” is so much different that any other good or service, like food, clean water, automobiles, airplanes, houses and so forth?

    In a nutshell, this is 1 million % a government created problem. And back in the day, in the 60s and very early 70s when I and my 3 brothers were born, my parents paid the hospital/doctor bills out of pocket. I don’t know how much it was but I’m sure it totaled no more than maybe $5,000 for all 4 of us over the 10 year span.

    Here’s one way to potentially get out of this mess:

    https://freetheanimal.com/2012/11/heroic-oklahoma-doctors-surgeons-vs-obamacare-and-soviet-style-administration.html

    Price list:

    I just heard a deal on NPR the other day, some researcher and intern set about to call up hospitals to get pricing for a knee or hip replacement (can’t recall) with the story that granny needs one, has no insurance, family is paying and they’re shopping. I think average was 50K with highest prices going over 100k.

    In short, the problem is the government in bed with insurance companies, and its creates non-transparency. The solution is not for the government to take it over, but to get completely out of it and let it run as a market for a service where people know what they’re paying for what and making choices with prices set so as to encourage people to give them the business. It’s no different.

    Finally, this:

    http://www.cato-unbound.org/2013/03/04/michael-huemer/the-problem-of-authority/

    “Imagine that someone proposed that the key to establishing social justice and restraining corporate greed was to establish a very large corporation, much larger than any corporation hitherto known—one with revenues in the trillions of dollars. A corporation that held a monopoly on some extremely important market within our society. And used its monopoly in that market to extend its control into other markets. And hired men with guns to force customers to buy its product at whatever price it chose. And periodically bombed the employees and customers of corporations in other countries. By what theory would we predict that this corporation, above all others, could be trusted to serve our interests and to protect us both from criminals and from all the other corporations? If someone proposed to establish a corporation like this, would your trepidation be assuaged the moment you learned that every adult would be issued one share of stock in this corporation, entitling them to vote for members of the board of directors? If it would not, is the governmental system really so different from that scenario as to explain why we may trust a national government to selflessly serve and protect the rest of society?”

  8. Jesrad on March 5, 2013 at 02:54

    “Translation: if we go out on our own and make only reasonably good quality food products, exclusively, at a price that returns a profit to investors, we’ll underperform the market—those who don’t follow suit—and Wall Street will hammer us.”

    Woah, whoever said that piece of drivel needs to be taken out of business stat. Te biggest, most remarkable business successes of the past few centuries were almost all made by going against this very idea.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2013 at 06:45

      Jesrad

      This was my point in comparing companies that produce our stuff vs those that produce food. It leaves health out of the equation. In pure productivity, economic terms, feeding far more people for far less money, the food industry is a marvelous success.

      And to do it, they had to go against all the wise tradition that great granny knew about–from Crisco to food in tins to food in boxes and bags.

  9. Joshua on March 5, 2013 at 06:10

    Charles – your foundational premise is flawed. You seem to think that the US health care woes are a result of too little government involvement, too little regulation. If you look at it, health care is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the US. Government is currently involved in:

    -Where and how many hospitals can be built
    -How big our medical schools can be
    -How many foreign doctors can immigrate
    -What services various persons can provide (why can’t a pharmacist prescribe?)
    -Where insurance companies can sell insurance (not across state lines)
    -What insurance companies MUST cover (acupuncture?)
    -The primary “insurance” role for half of the population

    People on medicare have WORSE outcomes than similar populations who do NOT have access to medicare.

    Many people bemoan the fact that 20% of the GDP is spent on health care. What business is it of yours how much I spend on health care?

  10. Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2013 at 10:19

    Charles:

    A follow-up.

    Last night when I began my response I sent off an email to my dad to inquire about the medical bills. I do recall that I and my brothers went to the same old-guy doctor now and then, perhaps 2-3 times per year. They received a bill every month and sometimes it would take a few months but they’d eventually catch up. I often recall my dad sitting at the dining room table after paying the monthly bills, telling my mom “we’re almost caught up,” or, “we’re caught up.”

    Anyway, here was the scene in 1961, when people didn’t presume that it was anyone else’s responsibility to pay for their medical care. Via my dad.

    “Doctors office visits were about $5.00, home about $7.00. If I remember right the cost for your birth was about $175.00 from pre-natal through post. I think the hospital was about the same.

    “We did have hospital insurance, but it was very cheap.

    “And by the way, we didn’t take you to the doctor for every little sniffle like parents do nowadays.”

    And we didn’t go to the doctor for every sniffle, guess why?

  11. Rich7252 on March 9, 2013 at 18:01

    For me the best line in your article was, “We need to re-cultivate a culture of real food-sanctity through education, respect, stewardship, motivation, encouragement and above all: by example.” It really hit the spot for me. Thanks for nailing it again. I really believe that food, what we eat, should be regarded as sacred. It represents who we are as individuals and as a society. Of course I believe that the rest of society can do what it pleases, so long as they don’t interfere with what I want to do, and I agree not to interfere with them, but as an individual, food is special to me, I care about the plants and animals I eat. I believe they should be treated with respect. Food- sanctity… I like it.

  12. Kayumochi on March 11, 2013 at 06:56

    “People on medicare have WORSE outcomes than similar populations who do NOT have access to medicare.”

    That is an interesting statement. Can you provide a link?

    “Many people bemoan the fact that 20% of the GDP is spent on health care. What business is it of yours how much I spend on health care?”

    Other countries spend only single digits of the GDP on healthcare. That 20% is a sign of a sick society. And we all pay the price.

  13. Joshua on March 11, 2013 at 08:36

    I apologize – I misspoke. I meant to say Medicaid. Old people are automatically on medicare, so it’s hard to find any comparisons. Here’s a link for medicaid. http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/03/02/why-medicaid-is-a-humanitarian-catastrophe/

    Other countries spend only single digits of the GDP on healthcare. That 20% is a sign of a sick society. And we all pay the price.
    I’m not very good at explaining myself, but my contention is that the whole problem is that you’re viewing the issue with a collectivist lens. Countries shouldn’t spend ANY money on health care. It should only be individuals spending money on health care, in which case, if I want to spend 20% of my “GDP” on health care, it shouldn’t be any of your business.

  14. Kayumochi on March 11, 2013 at 09:16

    That was an interesting link and one could take that information and make the case that America needs a sensible, reasonably priced healthcare system like Taiwan, Switzerland, Israel, Japan or any number of countries to replace Medicaid.

    Your *philosophy* provides no solution to challenges the American healthcare system faces. It is more helpful to look to countries that created healthcare systems in the 1990’s that actually work for its citizens: Taiwan, Switzerland and Israel. These countries looked the world over for solutions and considered all the options.

    And your comments don’t reflect the reality of people who are diagnosed with chronic or terminal illnesses who would gladly spend 20% of their worth for treatment but are instead forced into bankruptcy. Neither do your comments reflect the damage society experiences when it has large numbers of unhealthy citizens.

  15. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 10:08

    “Your *philosophy* provides no solution to challenges the American healthcare system faces.”

    You presume he’s looking for a “solution,” euphemism for how to we steal in just the right way to solve this problem.

    I’m certainly not.

  16. Kayumochi on March 11, 2013 at 10:22

    Spent 16 years in Japan and know that country’s healthcare system well and don’t recall anyone stealing from me. Then I return here to the USA and do feel as if I am being ripped off. You too Richard may want to look at countries that created healthcare systems in the 1990s, systems that actually benefit its citizens. The Swiss healthcare reform barely passed in the 1990s. Now support is overwhelmingly in favor of the new system.

  17. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 10:28

    “and don’t recall anyone stealing from me.”

    Cool. Write a book about how to live in Japan for 16 years and not pay a dime in euphemism.

  18. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 10:29

    Oops, sorry. “Euphemism” should have been [bracketed].

  19. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 10:31

    “….that created healthcare systems in the 1990s.”

    How? With what? By what means? Was it unanimous, 100% voluntary?

    If not, not interested, ever. The only public vote that is ever morally valid is 100% participation and 100% unanimous. No exceptions ever.

  20. Kayumochi on March 11, 2013 at 10:43

    You remind me of parents who rioted and hid their children from a new concept in the 1850s called “public school.” Suppose that attitude had prevailed in the name of *morality* and America had never had a single public school system. Would we be better off today? Yes, parents were forced to send their children to school and children were forced to attend. It wasn’t unanimous. It wasn’t voluntary. The means were tax dollars. But had that *morality* prevailed America wouldn’t have followed the trajectory it has. We probably would be more like Brazil.

  21. Joshua on March 11, 2013 at 12:27

    I don’t care about the american health care system. I care about Americans.

    We’ll never know if my philosophy would provide a solution to the challenges Americans face. There are just too many people like you who want to tell other people what to do.

    What if Americans could buy catastrophic health insurance instead of this middleman scheme?
    What if Americans could buy health insurance across state borders?
    What if employer provided healthcare wasn’t given a tax advantage over individually sourced health care?
    What if I could buy insurance that didn’t have to pay for mental health coverage or chiropractic coverage or any bullshit that I don’t want?
    What if my pharmacist could prescribe basic medications for me?
    What if I paid directly for most of my care, and only turned to insurance if there was an emergency?

    I’m not saying that these things would make it all better, but you can’t say that wouldn’t.

    Why do the people who would gladly spend only 20% of their worth on treatment deserve to take any of my earnings to pay for it? I gladly give to those in need, but you and they have no right to take.

    Why is it society’s problem if an individual is unhealthy? I don’t understand that part. It is my problem if a friend is in need because I love my friends and want to help them, but it is not your problem.

  22. Kayumochi on March 11, 2013 at 13:16

    “I’m not saying that these things would make it all better, but you can’t say that wouldn’t.”

    Taiwan, for example, started with a clean slate and examined what was working around the world and what was not and created an efficient, reasonably priced system. As far as I know, they didn’t adopt any of your recommendations.

  23. Kayumochi on March 11, 2013 at 13:26

    Just realized you don’t realize that the 18% of the GDP that goes to healthcare is a drag on the economy …

  24. Kayumochi on March 11, 2013 at 13:34

    If the US structured the healthcare system along the lines of Taiwan it would bring it down to 10% of the GDP and the US would have over one trillion dollars a year that could be used to pay down the national debt, shore up Medicare and Medicaid, strengthen Social Security, and not require additional taxes from the rich.

  25. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 15:29

    That is quite funny, Kayumochi, though not intended.

    It’s very clear to me that you attribute unwarranted assumptions to me, enough to base a just-so argument on it. It’s a very, very bad thing those thoughtful parents who understood implications beyond your awareness failed to convey that shifting education of familial, community, home, tradition, rituals, sacrenessm to a collective melting pot for the pleasure of the state–primarily hundreds of thousands of young men to be glad to die on their chessboard–was a bad idea. “Efficient” as all fuck. But bad for humans who passion to human,

  26. Joshua on March 11, 2013 at 15:30

    You’re not understanding. I don’t care about “the economy”. I care about individuals. I’m not just philosophical about this – I genuinely believe that freer people are happier healthier and wealthier.

    I am confident – perhaps foolishly so – that releasing people to make their own health care choices would reduce the overall financial impact of health care on the economy and result in better outcomes, but that’s entirely secondary in my opinion.

    I am fully cognizant of the economic impact of various health care systems. I just don’t care about things at the national level. I don’t even root for Team USA.

    Taiwan has had their system in place for 11 years? How do you know it’s any more sustainable than ours? Standard wikipedia caveat, but it doesn’t exactly look like it’s all happiness and roses.

  27. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 15:49

    “…. they didn’t adopt any of your recommendations.”

    That’s quite unfair because whatever the Taiwanese government was proposing was certainly predicated upon taking money from people by threat of force to pay for it.

    I’m absolutely certain that any recommendations you might have assumed from previous comments preclude such behavior. So the charge is non-sequitur technically, but unfair in a sense of fairness kinda way.

  28. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 15:51

    “,,,,is a drag on the economy …

    Whose economy, precisely?

  29. Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2013 at 15:56

    “….and not require additional taxes from the rich.”

    I’m sure the’ll be happy to trade a not gonna happen tax break in exchange for their collective cashing in. Unless you think it’s the poor behind the laugh of what should be a free market for a health care system, hybridized into every possible corporate and state favor that can possibly tacked upon its carcass.

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