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Reforming America’s Sickcare System

****The following is a guest post for Organic Health by author Jim Knapton**** Let us not kid ourselves anymore. America does not offer, in the main, healthcare but hugely expensive systems to support the care of the largely unnecessary sick. Is this not more aptly labeled sickcare? In contrast to any other developed nation, we lack a national health policy whose minimum qualification ensures at least adequate treatment for all, irrespective of economic standing. Socialized medical plans, no matter how abhorrent to American individualists who see them as an abomination only because they are seen to adversely affect their pocketbooks, guarantee that no one will ever have to forfeit their material lives for being ill. America states a contrary view: only if you can afford it can you get it.

It is imperative that alternatives be sought to replace our current sickcare programs, where self-serving interests—pharmaceutical profiteering, malpractice insurance absurdities, multiple-payer inefficiencies, privileged professional associations, and poor quality hospital care—hold too great a sway.1 Instead of equal and just primary care for all, we have spawned a sickcare industry that views patients as consumers not people, caring more for the curing of illness and less for the prevention of it, excellent though many of those services are for some in our society.

This is obvious from the latest news that adult obesity rates in 2010 rose in 16 states. Not even in one state did the level of obesity decrease, according to the just released Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation annual report on obesity. Twelve states, led by the southeast, now have obesity rates above 30 percent, whereas obesity rates exceed 25 percent in more than two-thirds of all our states. This has led to adult diabetes rates increasing in eleven states and Washington, DC, in the past year. In eight states, more than 10 percent of adults now have type 2 diabetes, marked by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. And while the primary treatment for type 2 diabetes should be diet and exercise, what is our sickcare system doing to implement these solutions?

Healthcare should be all about teaching us how to be well. Proper nutrition is the most important factor in achieving and maintaining health, as well as a regular habit of appropriate exercise and minimizing exposure to environmental toxins. Instead, fast-food franchises; low-fat and fat-free products; MSG (in all its disguised names); sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and sucralose; hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils; irradiated and genetically modified food; factory-farmed animal products; and most packaged foods are anathema to good health. Obesity, today’s booming civilized-human dysfunction, is not an accident of nature but a predictable outcome of food industry advertising and exploitation of our highly profitable addiction to cheap, adulterated, processed food. Combined with the tendency for unnecessary care and over-treatment—doctors prescribing far too many toxic pharmaceuticals to the tune of an estimated annual $500 billion “that does nothing to improve our health”—as a nation we are growing fatter, sicker, and poorer.2 (Not surprisingly, traces of our massive pharmaceutical intake are now commonly found in our drinking water supply!) Unconscionably, we pass on our fascination with unhealthy eating habits to the rest of the world, which is now becoming equally cluttered with Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s, KFC, etc. to the detriment of their “growing” societies and their own nationalized sickcare systems.

This is not helped by growing government regulation, issuing through the Food and Drug Administration, designed in part to inhibit local fresh and unadulterated food production. Whereas one would have thought that our federal government, established not that long ago—if I am remembering correctly, of the people, by the people, for the people—would be in concert with people’s needs, this is apparently not the case. Instead, last year Congress introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), which opponents said would “lead to crushing regulations on local food production, to the benefit of the big corporate farming interests that backed passage of the law.”

What this act means, in fact, is that we will be increasingly disallowed to grow our own organic food and drink nutritious raw milk because the FDA says it’s bad for us, when it’s obvious, from the size and illness of our bodies, exactly the opposite is true. Consequently, even if not all of us are yet literally up in arms, many of us are metaphorically so, enough to recognize the energizing value of the Tenth Amendment and its protection of States’ Rights. For there is a growing awareness in the country that it is time to oppose the domination of Big Pharma and Big Ag—and become healthier on our own accord.

As the likes of Ron Paul and the Tenth Amendment Nullification Movement—an effort to push back against unconstitutional federal laws and regulations on a state level—are making plain, we can take back our destiny. For in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States exists the right for any state to nullify any law passed by the US Congress that it considers unconstitutional or otherwise illegitimate.

Obviously, the Founders of this nation weren’t fools. With the Tenth Amendment they guaranteed that if the federal government gets too big for its britches, any state has the power to assert the will of its people. So undoubtedly we will be hearing more from patriots like Ron Paul and Tom Woods, who see an overwhelming need for we the people to get back to depending on the democratic rights of our own initiatives and not to be in thrall to corporate-only interests. We hope this essential consideration for becoming a healthy nation will be a major issue of the next election and that 2012 will be the big turnabout year.

1. Linda T. Kohn, Janet M. Corrigan, and Molla S. Donaldson, ed., To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System (2000–ISBN 9780309068376)

2. Shannon Brownlee, Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer (2007–ISBN 9781582345802)

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To know more about Jim Knapton’s new book, Changing Our World: Solutions for a Future, visit his website at http://www.ottolinepublishing.com/. You can send him mail at info@ottolinepublishing.com.