A Self-Inflicted Epidemic

 

Too High A Price

I have written of an unspoken and unwitting conspiracy to addict children to unhealthy products and practices. The financial windfall they reap are simply the fruit of the diseases they sowed.

That great sucking sound we hear, to paraphrase that prophet of pessimism Ross Perot, is the transfer of money from US taxpayers to  various entities I collectively call, the beneficiaries of unhealthiness.

 

The American economy was once dominated by a Military-Industrial complex. National defense was America’s greatest recipient of tax breaks and entitlements. That’s no longer the case.  Our interventionist policy ended when we could no longer afford the expensive military campaigns that put profits above patriotism. When the price we paid in human treasure and financial resources became too large, the political machinery ended our military madness and placed our nation’s destiny above corporate profits.

 

Like the military before it, the entitlement of healthcare has created new jobs for the industries that feed off it. Jobs for doctors, nurses, nurses aides, managed care directors, drug reps, healthcare consultants, insurance executives, hospital administrators, accountants, lawyers, scientists, researchers, attendants and of course medical specialists trained in venture capital, investment banking, fund management and mergers and acquisitions. In fact, the only healthy component during our financial meltdown has been the healthcare industry.

A two trillion dollar annual budget for healthcare makes it the fastest growing segment of the economy.  It’s the Wild Wild West for healthcare entrepreneurs; they see gold in them thar ills.

 

Only when the cost in quality of life and financial resources becomes apparent will the political machinery have the moxy to put an end to this medical madness.

The profiteers of disease, including the corrupt officials and intimidated regulators, have allowed the huge multinationals to earn obscene profits. They have created a favorable infrastructure from which enormous profits are attainable.  An infrastructure, managed by experts from the world of business with minimal input from scientists trained in the art of healing and medicine.

The enormous potential in diseases has led to a dramatic surge in Investment Bankers, Private Equity managers, and Venture Capitalists who have setup shop in the healthcare arena. They expect to capitalize on the explosive growth of disease and the development of treatments that manage them. They view illness and healing as commodities in the marketplace while doctors and patients are treated as numbers on a financial ledger.

 

Physicians today are compensated when they perform procedures, prescribe drugs and conduct tests. Procedures, drugs and tests are covered expenses, advice and education are not.

 

Doctors are thus reluctant to spend time talking with patients about preventing disease. Not that they don’t believe in it or don’t think it can help. No, they instead are forced to improve treatment efficiency, increase patient load and cover their asses. This is an extremely profitable system for companies who sell drugs and less so for the doctors who earn their living this way. But the truly unfortunate victims are the patients taking the drugs. Some have most definitely had their lives saved by these miracle cures. But for many others it has become a lifetime of endless drug use and unpredictable side effects.

In this system, doctors bill insurance companies for visits,  laboratories carry out tests, pharmacies dispense drugs and insurance companies use these expenditures to jack-up premiums. A rise in expenses demonstrate to state regulators the need for insurance companies to raise next year’s premiums. That is how they can pay their CEOs  millions of dollars in annual bonuses.

Crossroads of Illness

Nutritional diseases are the symptoms of unhealthy eating habits and metabolic dysfunction. Together with recreational drug abuse nutritional illnesses have the distinction of being diseases of choice.

Collectively, the products, practices and policies of our homegrown axis of evil have made Americans unhealthy. The freedom businesses enjoy to manufacture, market and profit from  unhealthy products is robbing children of their future. This free market madness is ruining individual health and depleting this nation’s precious medical resources.

 

Overeaters, alcoholics and smokers, share with heroin addicts and abusers of methamphetamine, cocaine and oxycodone, a common humanity and an inability to resist the lure of addictive substances.

 

Abusers who thought they could control their addiction underestimated its force and power. They deserve compassion for their struggle not prosecution. They need protection from pushers, not more new drugs. They need protection from the FDA.

The FDA was ideally situated between the forces and the beneficiaries of illnesses. They are the agency responsible for regulating the companies who manufacture food and drugs. They are in position to safeguard our children’s health but instead are on the side of the multinationals.

The spiraling cost of healthcare is due to the reliance by doctors on pharmaceutical cures.  Their synergy is based on a limitless number of cures and new drugs they can create and the number of procedures they can perform on an ever widening population

We can no longer afford a system that is driven by fear. Fear of aging, sickness and death are used to sell the fear of having no insurance. This emotion has been exploited by politicians, lobbyists and medical marketers and is most responsible for the lack of universal coverage in America. They have repressed reform of healthcare for over forty years by playing on that fear

Their were numerous opportunities when a powerful presence by the FDA could have made a difference.

 

1. The FDA let the drug industry off the hook when in the face of continued public outcry over their dangerous drugs, the FDA continued with its laissez-faire approach regarding the safety of drugs.

 

2. The FDA also let the food industry off the hook by allowing them to only slightly modify their meals and didn’t require them to provide healthier foods. They demanded only that they promote healthier messages via their marketing programs.

 

3. The FDA permitted the food industry to continue its practice of adding addictive compounds to increase their shelf and make them more palatable. Human life is more important than shelf life.

 

4. The FDA could have forced them to modify their corporate conduct and improve the nutritive value of their products. They could have gone even further by requiring them to demonstrate that their products have a positive effect on health. Two requirements which should be mandatory.

 

5. The FDA instead allowed them to peddle their poisons, protected in the knowledge that unless the assertions made in this book can be proved in a court of law, they are free to continue poisoning kids.  This nation’s  looming bankruptcy is too high a price to pay this freedom.

 

These aren’t freedoms, they’re loopholes. They are laws, which companies freely ignore, avoid and circumvent in order to imprison and enslave children.

A Self-Inflicted Epidemic

The American epidemic is characterized by a group of self-inflicted, chronic diseases; diseases that began as a matter of choice but which later evolved into a compulsive metabolic malfunction.

 

These diseases result from a failure to metabolize carbohydrates or fats properly.  Illnesses that stem from overconsumption; the fuel that drives this nation’s economic engine.

The nutritional diseases of obesity, diabetes and hypertension, and the excessive use of drugs to treat their conditions, have now reached critical mass. This self-inflicted epidemic has spun out of control and is threatening the future stability of this country.

 

Nutritional diseases unlike infectious or genetic ones, could have been prevented.

 

Illness benefits many different kinds and types of businesses. From entrepreneurial biotech firms who seek new lead compounds, to mom and pop bodegas selling cuchifritos.

Illnesses are fueled by overconsumption so anything that promote overconsumption is therefore good for those businesses.

CYA medicine, billable procedures, compensation protocols, diagnostic tests, gatekeepers, PCPs and PA procedures are part of the jargon of medicine. Doctors are too busy speaking this language to study the science of the drugs they prescribe. Hence their dependence on pharmaceutical reps who schmooze them into prescribing their particular brand of a drug.

The once honorable profession of healers has been transformed into an organization of compliant doctors. Instead of healing,  doctors now earn their living writing prescriptions and reviewing test results.

Hospitals and medical offices now  have an infrastructure built and dedicated to filing claims and billing insurance companies.

An army of the unhealthy have amassed at the entrances of understaffed hospitals, community clinics and cut-rate pharmacies. As a group they are a mounting menace; a financial albatross that threatens the future of this nation.

Their voting power combined with the resources of PIMP make curtailing treatment, an impossibility. Their combined strength makes them a force that politicians dare not antagonize. These patients are the proverbial cash cows for PIMP.  They are the fruit of illnesses. They represent profits to PIMP.

 

PIMP pays hundred million dollar bonuses to drug and insurance executives for all the good work they do. These bonuses are paid for by the lower payments to doctors and hospitals and the higher premiums and deductible that patients and their employers pay.  They also come from the bigger returns that newly approved blockbuster drugs earn. Drugs that were approved with great fanfare only to be shown latter to have harmful side effects or be ineffective.

The medical bureaucracy that was supposed to safeguard our nation’s health has not only failed in its prime role, but may actually have been complicit in fermenting this chaos. In fact there is an additional category of disease, known as iatrogenic diseases, in which the causative agent is medical error.

The need to be cost-effective and time-efficient, has caused physicians to become dependent on prescribing drugs and performing invasive surgeries. As the use of drugs and procedures increases, the likelihood of iatrogenic illnesses does as well. Misdiagnoses, malpractice, and overuse of antibiotics are examples of healer-inflicted illnesses.

To reverse this trend and alter this epidemic, the medical  establishment needs to assert its authority over our nation’s health by stressing prevention, educating patients and weaning itself off its dependence on BigPharma.