Health reform? No, revolution!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Americans consume too much fat (the bad kind) and sugar and too little fiber, vegetables and grains.

So what?

Well, if the elected leaders of this nation really wanted to reform health care, wouldn't they start by encouraging us to all pitch in?

Let's face it. You and I can't do much about pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and doctors and hospitals. To be honest, I wouldn't know what to do with the pharma-medico-insurance complex. But I can do something about what I eat for lunch.

Here we have U.S. senators and representatives cutting deals with the pharma-medico-insurance lobbyists when they should be making nice to you and me.

If my old gas guzzler is worth a $4,500 federal bailout, wouldn't it be worth something to the feds for me to eat a proper and nutritious breakfast followed by a sensible lunch and a well-balanced dinner?

Of course, I realize it would take a government bribe to get us to do that. Why? Because we all know that eating well is boring as hell.

There's a darn good reason we eat ourselves into poor health. Actually, there are two reasons. One is that it tastes mighty fine and fills us up. The second reason is that we have, through our own ingenuity and superior intellect, created a health-care system that keeps us alive even though we stuff ourselves with the food equivalent of toxic waste.

To improve our health and reduce our dependence on prescriptions, doctors and health-insurance co-pays, I propose that we create a volunteer army to wage war on the notion that there's nothing we can do, short of national health care, to save us from ourselves.

When I say volunteer, what I mean is that each of us would have to pledge to take charge of our destiny, food consumption-wise.

Instead of government-generated food pyramids and federal bulletins that tell us chocolate will kill us one minute and prevent Alzheimer's the next, this all-volunteer Save Your Own Butt Army would rely on our natural ability to choose between good and bad.

No more "You don't have the brains God gave a fence post" mentality. You bet we know what we ought to do. The kicker is doing the right thing when it's so easy to eat what we like and assume the doctor has a cure.

That's where genuine health-care reform comes in. Instead of caving into the pharma-medico-insurance complex, an alert Congress would find ways to protect us from the status quo.

Think about it. Doctors don't have much to do if their patients are in good health. The pharmaceutical companies can't prosper if no one needs to pop pills. And the health insurers can't charge high premiums if their policyholders rarely need a doctor.

I'm not medically trained, and I'm no rocket scientist, either. But it looks to me like the best interest of the pharma-medico-insurance complex is that we should all worship at the temple of unfettered gluttony.

I have a one-word message for Congress: Stop.

Stop tinkering with a system that, in order to be truly reformed, would have to be blasted with just about every nuclear weapon in our peacetime arsenal. There is no way to "fix" the health-care system, which exists to deal with the aftermath of our individual irresponsibility.

Instead, give us all a good reason to eat right and even exercise a bit. (I wasn't even going to mention the exercise component, but now the cat's out of the bag.)

What incentive? I can answer that with another question: What makes the world go around?

Money!

I guarantee that a well-trained army of Americans dedicated to a healthy revolution would cut trillions out of needless government spending in short order.

What do you say, senators and representatives? Are you going to spend your break huffing and puffing about so-called health-care reform? Or are you going to do something to inspire Americans to be healthy?

jsullivan@semissourian.com<I>

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