The PaNu blog started simply as a way for patients and friends to access my ideas about nutrition without my physical presence. I have a lot of ideas about a lot of different subjects, some of which I am just as passionate about as diet and medical science. My decision to keep them off the blog has solely been a pragmatic one. My time and energy are finite, and once you are in the second half of your life, you tend to try to use both effectively. It’s easy enough to be subject to diffusion with a topic as broad as nutrition and so much more were I to add more topics.
Hell, I haven’t even had time to post food pictures yet. I have some; they are just still on the flash card of my Canon.
Tonight I am making an exception. The blog as a whole lately has been running about 15,000 unique visitors and over 70,000 page views a month. This is from 0 in all categories 5 months ago. I know this is small potatoes compared to mainstream media outlets, but you can see it makes more sense for me to post something here than spam the 18 people on my email list.
If you think this is off topic, I assure you it is not. You can read anti-heathcare reform editorials anywhere.
I will give you my view of the big picture and show you how it relates to paleonutrition and taking charge of your own health.
Imagine the following. You are a thoughtful person. You find life challenging in a positive sense. You may or may not be college educated, but you read a lot, and you feel like the internet and the availability of books is a godsend. You can access primary sources of information that were opaque to almost everyone outside of privileged or highly specialized positions until the last decade of the 20th century.
You are an agent, a human who feels the power of knowledge, including self-knowledge, and with it a responsibility to make the most of your time on this earth.
Acting with agency as opposed to merely existing means actualizing your life, sorting out needs from wants, coming to terms with which of these are good and worthy of desire, and which of these might be based on fantasies or lies.
Ultimately it becomes a condition where you say:
“I want to know the truth, no matter what it is.”
“I want to discover this truth for myself.”
“I have found that not all sources can be relied upon and not everything is as it seems. I want to decide which authority besides my own reason I will appeal to. I don’t want this decision made for me.”
You realize that “science” is not a privileged sphere of inquiry. It is not special.
You see that scientists are not priests and doctors are not demi-gods.
With your new knowledge, often outside the mainstream or even considered heretical, you feel it is important to make your own decisions about how to allocate your time and energy. You want to allocate that precious time and energy (and money) in accord with your values.
It starts to bother you if others appropriate your wealth (your energy) for foreign wars of empire, to prop up a parasitical financial oligarchy that has been sucking the real economy dry for 30 years, or to pay for things you don’t approve of. You realize that both the “left” and the “right” want to control you and use you to expand their own power.
Most of all, you don’t want others to tell you what your priorities should be. Because you realize how hard it is be enlightened yourself, you cannot imagine a central authority that could direct anyone without doing violence to everyone.
You acquire this attitude early in life, or maybe only over decades.
At some point you start to learn about medical science and nutrition. You are amazed at the lack of consensus. You are amazed that expert advice can differ so much. If you went to medical school, maybe you are amazed at how much of what you were taught proves to be useless or dangerous.
It starts to become obvious to you that there are diseases that serve as the substrate for the biological analogue to Dwight Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex. Diseases that, were they to disappear, whole portions of the world’s largest economy would have to be mothballed like the USS Iowa. There are whole systems of modern iron lungs ready to become future curiosities. They exist for today’s dietary polio.
A suite of degenerative diseases
You realize that there is very good, if sometimes obscure, evidence from both modern medical science and the study of non-neolithic human cultures that most of what is being spent on healthcare in the world’s largest economy is going to treat these diseases of civilization. When you learn of how ineffective these efforts are, and then how cheaply and simply they could simply be avoided, you are dismayed.
You may start to educate your family and friends about how absurdly simple it might be to reduce your risk of diabetes, Alzheimer dementia, the most common cancers, osteoporosis and autoimmune disorders. You may have luck educating your own physician and stimulating her curiosity.
Eventually, you realize that entrenched interests are a powerful impediment to changing things at a societal level. You may or may not have read “The Birth of the Clinic” or “Discipline and Punish” by Michelle Foucalt. You are certainly not a Marxist, but you see that the method of the deconstructionists can be used to find the interests behind what is held to be the truth by force.
A federal government that, cloaked in a supercially left-right polarity and using the fraudulent tool of “democracy” exists for nothing but to arrogate more power to itself. No aspect of your life is too trivial to avoid a probing tentacle of this leviathan.
The uneasy and opportunistic partners of our government, privileged rent-seeking corporations that don’t need to flout the law because it is created solely to benefit them in the first place: the agriculture lobby, the manufacturers of artificial commodity “foods” like archer-daniels midland, the subsidized ethanol makers, the big pharmaceutical companies - economic tapeworms that never profit more than when the host is not killed but kept just sick enough to continuously need the juice.
Massive “insurance” companies that ostensibly hate a patchwork of regulation and oversight, but would be competed into oblivion if there were no regulations against selling across state lines, the way computers or bicycles or electric guitars are. Companies who, if they were not protected by the gross asymmetry of the tax deductibility of employer provided insurance and ever-expanding mandates and government micromanagement, would not stand a chance in hell of selling a single policy for $20,000 per year.
Having every dollar of health care spending run through government or a private company between you and your doctor and calling it “insurance” is not insurance. It is already an insane sort of privatized socialism. Can you imagine sending $600 per month to your “grocery insurer” and having to get pre-authorization for your pastured butter and grass-fed beef?
You encounter these things. They soon become obvious to you. They become facts.
You see that a bloated 16% of the American economy is essentially a fascist partnership between privileged and entrenched commercial interests and the overweening government that pretends to discipline them.
You may have read “The structure of scientific revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn. You begin to think that the reigning scientific paradigm, what Kuhn called “normal science” is the ideology that keeps these powerful interests powerful. The same way “the red menace” and the “war on terror” justify the empire and a military budget that is more than half that for the entire world. It seems the “normal science” of diet and health will be maintained until it is forcibly displaced, or at worst when enough of the priests that maintain it have, simply, died.
You reckon that the freedom of individuals to make their own decisions offers some hope. You know that, despite entrenched interests, agency and the urge among some to create and take risks in hope of profit are a spontaneous force that could challenge the “health care system” and the normal science that props it up.
You decide to wait. You wait for a new system to arise.
A system where the physicians and scientists who think like you do, like agents, combine with the entrepreneurs who always exist, never snuffed out completely by the leviathan, and use their certainty that a new system can work to begin to create it.
A system that recognizes the diseases of civilization for being the nearly optional scourge that they are.
A system that has the morality, enforced by the logic and self interest of both buyers and sellers, to say that your 80 year old grandmother’s new knee is not as worthy as your daughter’s chemotherapy for easily curable Hodgkin lymphoma.
A system that, without subsidies and mandates, doesn’t insure anything that has no scientific evidence for its efficacy, unless people want to pay extra for it a la carte.
A system that sees that rare events that are unavoidable are the logical and most profitable thing to ensure, and avoids the mandates of central planning that increase cost.
A system that realizes that the profit motive and removal of distorting government regulations and subsidies, would allow people to choose what they want to be insured for and for what price.
A system that empowers people to make their own decisions about what kind of medical provider they wish to see, and recognizes the right of individuals to work with their insurer to determine what level of training should be required.
And finally, a system that recognizes that not only does it make medical insurance more affordable to allow entrepreneurs to exclude those with unhealthy behavior, it may be the most powerful weapon we have to actually make people healthier, instead of keeping them alive to feed the tapeworm.
You speculate, with good reason and perhaps a pencil and pocket calculator, that even if the removal of subsidies and mandates does nothing for medical prices, within a generation health care costs could be reduced by ½ or 2/3 with the focus on sophisticated care for trauma non- dietary cancers and infectious diseases. You reason that in every other area of the economy, the simple removal of subsidies and tax advantage will force prices down even futher.
Why should an insurance premium for a medical event be tax deductible when food and your apartment are not? Do we want people to have insurance more than food?
You wait for the day, perhaps a few years off, perhaps longer, when you can buy health insurance based on your behavior – when you are rewarded for choices you know to be healthy by entreprenuers and their actuaries who are also convinced. They will offer to insure you at deeply discounted prices if you don’t smoke, if you eat real food, and if you avoid gluten grains, excess vegetable oils and fructose. You are willing to get blood tests every year to confirm that you are sticking to a diet that mimics a Paleolithic metabolism.
If the “health care reform” bill under consideration by the US House of Representatives is voted on Saturday and passes, you will wait forever.
THE HOUSE BILL
The Wall Street Journal calls it “the worst bill proposed by congress since the Roosevelt administration”.
The bill will create a Frankenstein’s monster of an entitlement that will likely have a real cost of over $2 trillion on top of our country’s already unpayable $50 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
This new entitlement, the first in our history to force the individual purchase of a service from private corporations, will eliminate the only surviving competitive option to the loathsome private insurance system, which is the option to purchase nothing at all. The cost for this Mussolini-inspired product will skyrocket.
The ban on exclusion from coverage sounds “fair”, but will permanently eliminate the possibility of ever buying insurance that rewards you for healthy behavior. Even without new taxes and income transfers through subsidies to buy insurance, you will be forced to be in the same risk pool as your obese neighbor on avandia who eats chips and bread all day and his kids who are already nearsighted from hyperinsulinemia, themselves just two decades away from insulin injections.
Mandates will eliminate the possibility of choosing not to be insured for things you don’t wish to pay for, and minimum benefit packages will force even those who prefer high deductibles to pay for first dollar coverage they don’t want. Premiums for the self-employed will triple based on this alone.
The possibility of anything as radical as choosing to pool yourself with individuals with lower risk of disease based on your diet will disappear and likely never return. A few years after this passes, it will become another part of the “third rail” - no one will touch the idea as it will be considered unfair, and the insurance companies need the healthy in the risk pool in order to be profitable. All these efforts to keep the prudent/ and or healthy in the pool with the unhealthy will be done under the rubric of “fairness”.
So now you have my argument. You can see, I hope, that it is anything but support for the status quo. “Health care reform” as proposed is nothing but a permanent and unrepealable entrenchment of the status quo you are disgusted with.
So I am asking you as a favor, if any of this concerns you, email, fax and phone your congressmen and senators tomorrow and let them know how you feel.
If you like and you agree, you can also tell them you favor:
1) Complete elimination of the deductibility of employer sponsored health insurance
2) Removal of all federal barriers to selling health care insurance across state lines
3) Elimination of all federal mandates in the provision of health insurance
4) Replacement of Medicare and Medicaid with individual need -based grants to enable recipients to purchase insurance that meets their own needs.
Thanks for your attention. The rest is up to you. I have done what I could.