But whether the solutions come from the far left (socialized medicine) or the far right (free drugs for seniors!), there's one glaring problem in all the talk about health care reform: nobody is talking about fixing the health problem.
The entire debate about health care has been framed in terms of a financial crisis. The only thing wrong with peoples' health, we're told, is that there's not enough money to treat everybody. If we only had more money for drugs, more money for surgery, and more money to find that elusive cure for cancer we've been promised since the 1970's, then all our health care concerns would be a thing of the past.
All of this, of course, is a calculated distraction from the real health problem in this country. And that problem, put bluntly, stems from the fact that we have known toxins in the food supply, we have a legalized prescription drug industry that kills 100,000 Americans each year (even according to the defenders of organized medicine), and our government regulators (the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture) appear to be so deeply dedicated to promoting the very industries they're supposed to regulate that public safety has been all but abandoned.
In other words, the health of our population is collapsing not because we don't have enough drugs, but because we have allowed the creation of unholy alliances between government and profit-hungry private industry that result in the systemic poisoning of our people. They are poisoned with hydrogenated oils, chemical sweeteners, and artificial colors made from petroleum products. They're poisoned by prescription drugs that cloud their minds, alter their brain chemistry and kill them with strokes and heart attacks.
Just one class of prescription drugs, COX-2 inhibitors, has now killed more Americans than died during the entire Vietnam War, and that's according to the FDA's own whistleblower, Dr. David Graham (a senior drug safety researcher). Two months ago, a rigged FDA panel -- made up largely of people with financial ties to drug companies -- decided that killing 60,000 Americans is not enough to actually ban a drug, so they stamped it as "safe" and now these drugs are right back on the market, being sold to millions.
And yet the health care reform debate rages on, focusing on how we can make these dangerous drugs more affordable to people. This is how the federal government comes up with nonsensical ideas like the Medicare "drug discount card." If senior citizens sign up, they can buy drugs in the U.S. at monopoly prices that are only 500% more expensive than the same drugs in Canada, Europe or Mexico. But this is a huge savings (we're told) over the 700% markup people usually pay in the United States, thanks to a policy of drug protectionism fully enforced by the FDA. Our government claims to support free trade, unless of course it harms the profits of politically-connected corporations like those who characterize Big Pharma.
All of this, of course, is Big Government at its finest. And it's all being done for your own protection, didn't you know? Drugs from Canada are very, very dangerous, we've been told. (I have a question: if drugs from Canada started killing Americans, how would we know? So many Americans are falling over dead from prescription drugs right now that it would be hard to sort them out.)
If that's not enough, Big Government USA has more solutions for you, too. Don't worry about your food choice or diet, just be sure to drink lots of milk, because the dairy industry is tight with the feds. Don't worry about that mad cow disease from a Texas cow (that reluctantly took the USDA seven months and three rounds of testing to finally admit), because the beef industry has executives in key positions at the USDA, and they're out to protect your health, too.
Don't worry about all the children being drugged up with antidepressant drugs -- the very same drugs that have been banned from use in children in the U.K. The kids need those drugs. Their brain chemistry needs a fixin'.
Come to think of it, don't worry about anything. Just keep working at that job, filing your annual taxes, and writing off 25% (or more) of your discretionary income on drugs, surgical procedures and chemotherapy. And when you die broke, you'll be in good company: nearly one-third of personal bankruptcies in this country are now due to medical bills.
I can't wait to start standing in line.
And nowhere will you hear anything about what should really be done to prevent chronic disease and enhance health in this country. Things like banning all hydrogenated oils, banning the advertising of junk foods to children, banning direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, and making some long-deserved criminal arrests of key executives at drug companies for hiding what they've known for a long, long time: that their products outright kill people.
Health care reform is meaningless without health reform. You can't alter the health of the population unless you address the underlying causes of disease: junk foods, toxic food additives and ingredients, overzealous drug promoters, lack of fresh air, sunlight and water, and nutritionally ignorant doctors who still don't teach patients how to be healthy.
If we limit our debate to who gets health benefits and who pays for them, we will only find ourselves funding an increasingly disastrous system of financial life support for chronic disease. Because, let's face it, our modern health care system isn't health care at all: it's a disease management system. It doesn't teach prevention (mammograms aren't prevention, they're detection), it doesn't teach nutrition (many doctors still don't believe foods have anything to do with health), but it sure does teach dependence on the system.
So prepare to cover your ears as this health care reform debate gets underway, especially during the run-up to the 2008 election. Health care reform will be the hot topic. Republicans will say they're going to save the nation by drugging everybody. Democrats will say they're going to save the nation by giving us all equally bad medical care. But nobody will be talking about the issue that matters: actually making people healthier.
That's why you'll never hear any politician, any government, or any disease-care business teaching people how to be healthy. The ideas of health, freedom and free will go against everything they stand for. They need a crisis so that the people have to come to them for answers. They need a crisis to justify profit-building programs (mandatory mental health screening for everyone!) that keep them in business. They need a crisis to get elected.
Once they get elected, they will consistently ally with the health-harming corporations that keep people diseased. Consider Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, who recently vetoed a hard-won bill that would have banned junk food in public schools. With 10% of Connecticut's high school students now overweight, Governor Jodi Rell sided with the soda companies.
Don't be fooled by the words of politicians when it comes to health care reform. Don't be fooled by the frame of the debate. They're debating a distraction while ignoring the fundamental question: how will we make our people healthier?
Until we answer that question, we will be mired in chronic disease, skyrocketing health care costs and bankruptcy at all levels: personal, corporate and government. We will continue to lose our cost competitiveness in the global marketplace, we will be unable to educate our health-impaired youth (Johnny can't learn too well 'cuz his brain is malnourished), and we will soon find that we have ventured too far down the path of national health ruin to reverse it.