The primary argument made by so-called conservatives against the health insurance mandate is that it deprives citizens of free choice. Every citizen, they argue, should be free to choose whether they want to purchase health insurance or they don’t. Even many so-called liberals, who are often in actuality libertarians, are somewhat swayed by this argument. “If this continues, the government will put cameras in your kitchen to make sure you’re eating enough broccoli.” Inter-generational warfare is used for additional leverage. “Why should the young and healthy have to subsidize the elderly and the infirm?”
What these arguments fail to recognize is what we might refer to as the “tyranny of poverty”.
What price should we as a society put on our fundamental humanity? If you find a man dying of thirst in the desert, do you ask him of his finances before selling him some of your water or do you offer him a drink?
If freedom is the focus, why do libertarians think only of their own freedom under the selfish banner of libertarian liberty instead of concerning themselves with the collective freedom of all citizens? No freedom exists under the oppressive thumb of poverty’s tyranny. When a citizen cannot afford health care for themselves or their families, they are not free to make the same choices wealthier citizens can make… in fact they often are not free to make any choice at all. This is exactly where government mandates should play a role. The role of government should be to insist on humane treatment for all citizens and to protect us from our seemingly endless supply of selfish libertarian bastards.
But liberal Democrats fail the test as well.
Sitting at the center of the storm is capitalism itself. We cannot leave in place the current system of agri-business that puts profits ahead of people. Government power must be used to put an end to the industry’s unsustainable soil-depletion practices. We the People must demand that they stop poisoning us with their endless flow of pesticides and herbicides. We must shut down their GMO labs that use us for their experiments as if we were lab rats. We must demand that our food production infrastructure be brought closer to where our food is actually consumed.
So much is wrong but liberals seem able only to focus on how to pay for health care insurance. It’s just not enough. No plan, however equitable it might be, can survive against the overwhelming tide of a nutritionally deficient food production system and the poor diets that most Americans eat.
“Let your food be medicine and your medicine be food.” – Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC)
As the national debate rages on about whether health insurance coverage should be public or private and mandatory or optional, we have lost sight of the critical premise that the best way to provide health care to the American people is not about insurance at all; it is about how to make the American people healthier in the first place. The starting point for a healthier America has to begin with our food supply. We cannot continue to feed ourselves on food grown in depleted soils, food doused in toxic chemicals, food that is highly processed and food that is often shipped from thousands of miles away. We cannot continue to ingest high calorie, nutrient deficient foods. We cannot continue to invite all manner of disease with our high fat, high sugar, high sodium diets.
The nutrient value of most foods from the time it is harvested until the time it finally lands on our plates is badly depleted. This sorry state of affairs, coupled with our very limited knowledge of sound nutrition, has led to an epidemic of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other diseases that are literally bankrupting us and making a national health care solution virtually unaffordable. We cannot “solve” the health care problem merely by choosing from among a menu of politicized, polarized, insurance schemes. Without question, single-payer is the path we should pursue. But even single-payer will ultimately collapse under the spiraling costs of an obese, diseased nation.
The steps needed to solve the health care crisis are:
1. crush agri-business and encourage more localized, decentralized, sustainable farming
2. break the food industry stranglehold on the FDA
3. educate Americans about the importance of a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables that discourages the consumption of meats, dairy products and processed foods
4. remove processed foods from the nation’s school systems
5. increase medical school enrollments to train and produce more doctors and train those doctors on high-quality nutrition and its role in preventing disease
6. recognize health care as a fundamental human right by implementing a Medicare-For-All system.
There should never be calls for “broccoli oversight”. We all have an interest in protecting fundamental civil liberties. Nevertheless, we are at war with an industry that knows no limit to its greed and yet we happily consume their daily swill like pigs being readied for the slaughter.
So, go ahead, debate Obama’s vacuous “health care” program. Argue passionately about mandates and civil liberties. Instruct the less learned about the virtues of single-payer. Just understand that until we change that which has brought us to the brink, i.e. our diets and the Big Ag infrastructure that produces it, we will continue to decline as a nation into an unsustainable, unaffordable medical malaise.
For those interested in learning more, I hope you’ll spend some time with the following remarkable resources:
“Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (book)
“Forks Over Knives” (movie)
“Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” (movie)
“Food Matters” (movie)