The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘business’ Category

WHINERS

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time you may remember that for a six month period of time I took leave of my executive search business to work as the manager of the fulfillment center for a record company in which I was an investor.  The first responsibility of this assignment was recruiting one hundred individuals who would process orders that we received through our advertising efforts.

While I was comfortable with the interviewing and hiring process from my search business, I realized that there would be a challenge hiring this many people.  These were full time jobs – but they only were going to last for the first quarter of the following year since we did eighty percent of our business in that time period.  Most people either wanted a full time permanent job or were interested in working for only a few days a week.  As a result I realized that although these were relatively low skilled jobs, I would have to offer more than the going wage in order to fill all the openings.

At the time, the minimum wage was $2.60 per hour.  I began hiring people at a rate of $4.50 an hour and after the first wave of applicants were interviewed, I still had sixty openings between the two shifts we were to be open for business.  I continued to advertise and in order to entice additional workers, raised the wages they were offered to $5.00 per hour.  That still left me with thirty open positions.  Finally I hired ten more people at $5.50 per hour.  To fill the remaining openings, I contacted an agency that assisted people who wanted to work but were wheelchair handicapped.  They were able to refer twenty of their clients who accepted positions with us at that final higher rate of pay.

January came and we were, as we expected, extremely busy.  I worked both shifts and moved into a local hotel so that I could oversee the facility’s activities, returning home only for one day after the end of the second Saturday shift.  I continued that until we started gearing down in April.

Several weeks after our busy period began, my assistant informed me that one of the new employees had asked to speak with me.  She showed her into my office.  I asked her how things were going and was pleased that she seemed to enjoy the work.  However, she did have a question.

If you’ve ever worked in an office environment then you know that the matter of who is making how much is information that employees ferret out from one another in no time.  That was what had happened in this woman’s case and was the reason she had requested to see me.

As it turned out, she was one of the few employees who had been hired at the highest rate – and she had discovered that many of her co-workers who were hired before she signed on were earning a lesser amount.  She had come in to let me know that she felt that was “wrong.”

I explained how I had begun hiring at one rate and the people who had accepted employment at that rate apparently felt that salary was fair or they would not have accepted the position.  I certainly had no ability to coerce them into taking the position – that came about as a voluntary decision on their part.

This woman went on to say that, “she didn’t feel it was right that she was making more money than others for doing the same work they were doing.”  We went back and forth on this for about ten minutes and I could see that I was making no headway in changing her opinion.  So I said, “You know, I can appreciate what you’re saying and I certainly don’t want to create an atmosphere where any of my employees feels uncomfortable.  In order to resolve this, would you feel better about working here if I reduced your hourly rate from $5.50 to $4.50 per hour?”  She responded that would not be something she wanted and she went back to work.  I never heard anything more about wages from this employee.

Perhaps this employee was just ahead of her time.  Like so many people of her mindset, she had the highest ideals and wanted justice for all – until it affected her personally.  If she is still alive today, I’m sure she would applaud a decision by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights requiring that a high school in Canton, Michigan remove the bleachers that parents installed on the boys baseball field because they are of a “higher standard” than the bleachers in the girls softball field.  This came about after an anonymous complaint alerted the Feds to this horrific situation.

The fact that the material and labor for the bleachers was paid for and contributed by parents did not matter to the DOE.  They were consumed with the lack of parity between the two fields and the fact that the girls field was not as nice as the boys field after it was renovated.  I can’t help wonder if it were the girls parents who had installed new bleachers and someone had filed an anonymous complaint about the boys field whether they would have taken the same action.  But that is a matter of nothing more than conjecture.  As is the question of why the parents of girls on the softball team, were they similarly offended, didn’t make the same effort to upgrade their children’s playing field.

We live in an age, encouraged through government fiat, of finger pointing.  Rather than attempt to find ways that we can improve our own situation, we waste our time looking at those who have more than we have and shout, “unfair.”  Somehow we look at tearing down others and feel empowered if we can find a government agency who will make their lives difficult and perhaps precipitate their downfall.  That is incredibly pathetic.

By the way, if you remember back to those last twenty employees who were handicapped, when I hired them I realized that it would be difficult if not impossible for them to work for me because there were, at the time, no handicapped accessible facility requirements that were mandated and the way our warehouse was constructed, they would have had no access.  I did find a solution for this issue.

I was able to find a steel ramp which we put in place when their bus arrived and removed when they were all inside.  We repeated the process when they left after their shift ended.  I didn’t need a government regulation to figure this out – just common sense.

But the truth of the matter is that if I wanted to hire these people today, I’m sure that the federal government would not accept my very workable solution and would have prevented me from hiring them – and most likely would have demanded that until I retrofitted the entire entrance I would have to shut down – thus eliminating the positions not only of our handicapped employees but all my other employees as well.

To paraphrase an old expression, “Whiners never quit.”  But in today’s climate and culture, there is no dearth of government bureaucrats willing to listen to their complaints.  America, what a country.

WAS “SEINFELD” A CELEBRATION OF INTOLERANCE?

Jerry Seinfeld is a comedic genius.  The weekly sitcom bearing his name had a successful run for nine seasons – topping the Nielsen ratings in two of those.  From 1989 to 1998 Americans rushed home to catch their weekly dose of the comedy and catch up on the most current phrases of Seinlanguage that the show invented.  Rumor is afoot that there is going to be a reunion of some of the cast for a one time reprise of the show to be forthcoming soon.

The cast over those nine seasons was so large that Cecil B. DeMille would have been envious.  Many of those who were engaged for the show played only in one episode.  But I wanted to look at those actors and actresses who were featured in two or more episodes.  There were a total of 212 of them.

Now as late as the end of the show in 1998, being “out” as a gay man or lesbian woman was not much in vogue, although Ellen DeGeneres might have broken the ice in 1997.  But that openly gay people worked in the entertainment industry and that industry had no problems employing them because of their sexual orientation had most likely been going on since Hollywood rolled the cameras for the first time.

Estimates of the number of our population who are members of the LGBT community suggest that as many as ten percent of our population may be sexually oriented this way.  Although my feeling is that it’s neither of interest to me nor is it any of my business what a person’s sexual preference is, it seems that there are many gay people, now including at least one pro basketball player and one college football player, who feel that they need to announce their orientation to the world.  That is, of course, their choice.

For years the straight population made certain assumptions about gay men –deciding that  because of an effeminate demeanor a particular man was gay.  In many cases these assumptions proved to be correct.  Add to that certain professions in which these men engaged such as florist, interior designer or hairdresser and without further need for additional evidence, some people would quip, “Fritz is as queer as a three dollar bill,” or, “He’s a little light in the loafers.”   Perhaps the one industry that could have cared less was the arts.  That would include the movies, television, theatre, opera, ballet, and the symphony.

Returning to our cast of 212 multiple episode actors and actresses who played on “Seinfeld,” you can imagine my surprise that only two of those have “come out” and are openly gay or lesbian.  Considering the fact that the industry often attracts gay men and lesbian women if for no reason other than its acceptance of their lifestyle, this truly surprised me.  Naturally, in an age where any and everybody seeks out a niche where they can view themselves as a minority and thus are persecuted and demand justice, I did not expect that result from my research.  This, of course, lends itself to the question, “Was there anti-gay prejudice employed in the casting of the ‘Seinfeld’ show?”

There is an element of intolerance written into the sitcom.  Who can possibly forget “The Soup Nazi” who refused service to anyone whom he didn’t like?  I’m frankly surprised that the FCC hasn’t already looked into this – considering their recent decision (subsequently deferred) to investigate whether our news programs are “properly serving the public” in the eight categories of news that they believe are sufficiently important to be part of those stations’ agendas and regular broadcasts.

Governor Jan Brewer (R – AZ) currently has on her desk a bill that would allow the owners of a business to deny service to people with whom its owners chooses not to do business.  Proponents say that it merely defines an owner’s rights in the same way that, “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” does.  Gay activists make the claim that it is an open invitation for businesses to deny them access simply because they are gay.  I haven’t read the bill, but from the discussion that I have heard, both interpretations are possible.  So here’s a thought.

If I were an Arizona business owner I would simply disregard the fact that my clients are male or female, black, white, Hispanic or Asian, straight or gay and pretend that they were all – let me think – okay, they are all vampires.  Several television programs and a number of recent movies have been devoted to members of that group – and no one seems offended by them.  And I have yet to hear of a vampire filing a class action suit against anyone for discrimination.

I’m going to be sure to catch the Seinfeld reunion special when it airs.  I just hope it’s broadcast after the sun goes down.

READY, AIM, STEAL

Poor Target Corporation.  The 112 year old retailer today disclosed that its original estimate that 40,000 of its customers’ credit and debit cards that were used during the Holiday shopping season might be low – now suggesting that as many as 70,000 such accounts might have been compromised.  In addition to card and pin numbers the data which hackers might have collected may also include home addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.  In response, the corporation is taking steps to ameliorate the damage by offering free one year subscriptions to data security services for those customers who might have been affected.

Speaking of identity theft, the House conducted hearings late last year in which they interviewed five IT experts and asked them if, given the stories about the lack of security built into the Obamacare website, they would entrust their personal data to it.  All five responded, “No.”

Today, the House of Representatives passed a simple two page bill which it sent to the Senate where Majority Leader Harry Reid will most likely not allow it to come up for a vote.  The Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act would simply require that the government notify anyone whose identity was compromised while using www.healthcare.gov within a 48 hour period after the data breach occurred.  That doesn’t sound terribly controversial.  In fact, 67 Democrat Representatives voted in favor of the bill which passed 291-122.

Rep.Elijah Cummings, (D – MD) who voted against the bill said, “There have been no successful security breaches of HealthCare.gov.   Nobody’s personal information has been maliciously hacked.”  Prior to the assault on Target’s customers, I suspect that corporation could have made the same claim.

The purported principle underlying Obamacare is that by requiring all Americans to have health insurance it would provide greater health security for everyone.  Fortunately, one of the mandated requirements is that the policies issued under the law must include treatment for psychiatric conditions.  And that’s a good thing.

If a for-profit, well run company like Target Corporation cannot completely defend itself or its customers against electronic hacking, consider what we might expect from a flawed website where no front to back testing for security has yet to be conducted.

Incidentally, the prime contractor on the website, CGI Federal, which had a number of other flawed projects under its belt previous to their receiving this contract, was fired today.  Apparently the Obama administration has finally figured out that there is another “F” word other than the one that polite people try to avoid using.  Watch out Kathleen Sibelius.

The good news is that, considering the horrific job creation numbers for December of a mere 74,000, when the breaches to the website start occurring there should be an uptick in the earnings for the nation’s psychiatrists, psychologists and others in the mental health business.  Of course the question remains, will any of them accept the insurance that Obamacare offers?

SILK PURSES AND SOWS’ EARS

Today the president cranked up the road show which we are warned will continue daily for the next three weeks to tout the virtues of Obamacare.  He used a tried and true formula that direct mail marketeers have employed for decades.  Perhaps you’ve received some literature from them in the past.

If you have you’ll recognize the shtick.  On very inexpensive paper you will be solicited to explore the wonderful new system that the mailer has discovered which is guaranteed to turn your humble financial life into that of an affluent nabob.  The “system” is guaranteed and fool-proof.  If you only remit the modest sum of $8.95 which includes the shipping charge, you will soon have delivered to you the secret of how to become wealthy almost overnight.

Naturally, in order to convince you to part with this modest sum of money, not only does the discoverer of this remarkable system share with you the story of his personal success, he includes the testimonials of a variety of earlier subscribers who attest to their own new found wealth as they employed the system they received.  These testimonials bear their abbreviated names, such as Sharon L. – Daytona, FL or Larry C. – Indianapolis, IN.

If you are still doubtful, thinking to yourself, “Why would anyone give away this key to riches for such a modest price,?” the author has an answer.  You see he has already made more money than he can ever spend, now has four houses on both coasts with a Rolls Royce in the driveway of each and two chateaux overseas and it is because he is so grateful for his good fortune that he wants to share his wealth creating system with other, less fortunate souls.  Of course, that begs the question, “Why didn’t you just send me the book for free instead of sending me an ad for it?”

Once again, there is an answer in the material.  You see the author does not want to “Cast his pearls before swine,” and your modest “investment” is merely an expression of both your commitment and your good faith, proving that you are the kind of person who will actually utilize and deserves to be blessed by this remarkable discovery.

I couldn’t help but think of these many mail solicitations that I have received over the years as I listened to the president today.  The presentation, replete with testimonials about people who have benefitted from Obamacare lacked as much credibility as any of the “get-rich-quick” schemes that I have been offered.  Which is not to say that there are not people who will indeed benefit from the law – and that is a good thing.  But the honest question which everyone, irrespective of party affiliation should be asking is, “At what price?”

Anytime a law is enacted it affects people.  That is, in fact, the reason for creating it in the first place.  And the more sweeping the law, naturally the more people who are affected by it.  Obamacare is as sweeping a law as has been passed for perhaps close to a century.  Therefore, we should not be surprised that millions are being affected – and at this point in time, it is fair to say that those effects have predominantly been perverse.

The stated goal of this program is to “insure every American” – yet we know that by the administration’s own admission, they still expect that 30 million will remain uninsured.  So if that is the fundamental premise and reason for implementation, it is flawed from the beginning.

In part because of the inadequacy of the website, fewer enrollees have signed up than are necessary for this plan to work (hence today’s dog and pony show – to tout the “improvements” and get the gullible to sign on).  What the president omitted from his presentation is that for every person signing up for Obamacare, fifty have already lost their coverage due to Obamacare – and more of those cancellations, far more, can be expected next year.

But this attempt to sell America on Obamacare focuses only on one side of a multi-faceted issue.  It emphasizes the importance of getting insurance but it fails to address the question of “What do you do with it once you have it?”

More and more we are hearing from the medical community that they simply will not honor or participate in this program.  So, in essence, you now have a wonderful magic card and a plan booklet that is unusable.  Most of us would not consider that to be a benefit – especially when you realize that you were forced to buy this product of dubious value.

The president likes to make comparisons between Obamacare and its problems and the glitches that Apple has had with various product releases.  It seems to me that there is a fundamental flaw in that argument – or maybe two.

The first is that within a short period of time and at minimal cost, Apple fixed its problems.  The same cannot be said of Obamacare the law or Obamacare the website.

The second is that by simply letting the public know when the latest iPhone is going to be released, people in the droves queue up at their local Apple store to be one of the first to buy it.  Obamacare – not so much.

It is, in a world of “change” and “moving on” perhaps arcane to mention an old adage which I first heard from my Grandmother.  And though it may be old-fashioned and trite, it’s still true.

“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

MINIMUM RAGE

Later this week the Prez is going on a bus tour to promote the idea of making college affordable for students.  That sounds like a great idea – although a person has to question the value of the education that a student receives when there is a limited market for whatever skills they receive in their four years at their alma maters.

Well, there’s the NFL – and McDonald’s.  At least in the NFL we are able to answer that question that was posed by the late Clara Peller, made famous in her Wendy’s commercials by asking, “Where’s the beef?”

And there is a lot to beef about – particularly if you are a college student and happened to have been chosen as an intern – in the White House.  You see, while the administration has been actively campaigning to increase the federal minimum wage, it pays these interns exactly – nothing per hour.  In addition, the interns must provide for their own housing.

Most internship programs are designed to offer promising students who are majoring in the field, the opportunity to get an introduction to the employer and the industry’s business.  Of course, some of these positions are awarded not by merit but by influence.   You know – the “good old boy system.”  Actually, those internships awarded by the White House go to those who are the kids of big contributors to “the cause.”  So it’s not as though these kids are going to have join the ranks of the homeless in our nation’s capital to beg for their next latté.

So consider the ingratitude of some of these young upstarts who feel that they should actually not only enjoy the privilege of learning about the finer points of obfuscation, but should actually get paid for their efforts.  Boy, are these kids working for the wrong administration.

Considering the fact that if the girls could just go out, have two kids and apply for welfare benefits (oh they’d have to move to Hawaii – so how tough is that) they could collect in cash and food and healthcare benefits the fairly decent amount of over $60,000 per year.  That’s way more than twice what we pay a starting teacher in Washington, D.C.

If these students learned anything from their internship this summer, hopefully it’s a grasp of economic realities – and how the administration for whom they worked for free just doesn’t get the concept that if you pay people enough in welfare and other benefits, you kill the incentive to work.  Or maybe they do understand it and its part of a master plan to keep the uneducated in subjugation.

With the bleak job outlook looming ahead of them, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these kids decided not to return to those ivy walls.  In fact, they might just decide to hang out with the many homeless who reside on the streets of Washington.  The weather is pretty good there year round.

But it’s a little hard for me to understand why, the cherry blossoms, notwithstanding, D.C. has so many homeless.  After all, Washington has a minimum wage which is 14% above the federal standard.  Can you just imagine the influx of additional homeless to the District if we – well, let’s say – just doubled it?

Some of our angered interns might even find out that, if they stay,  they qualify for some benefit package or other.  Even if it was a small pittance – it would be more than what they earned while working for the president.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE …

So let’s pretend that in the Brave New World into which we are rapidly transforming America you are given the choice of three options:

A.  You can have good health;

B.  You can have good health care;

C.  You can have good health insurance.

Which one of the above would you choose?

If anyone selected option B or C I suggest you immediately turn yourself into your local mental health clinic.

Let me say that we have, with the passage of Obamacare, re-defined the term healthcare and have made it synonymous with health insurance.  The two are as dissimilar as black and white.  And neither of them assures a person of good health.

If you consider the underlying premise of this abysmal law, it is supposed to insure those who currently do not have insurance and make it affordable for all the rest of us (who actually have not received exemptions and will be forced to eat this spoiled lunch).  This will, of course, lead to greater access to healthcare.  Let’s look at that premise.

Let’s assume that if Obamacare survives it achieves its goal of making certain that every American has insurance.  How does that serve the common good?  We’ve had absolutely no increase in those who provide healthcare services and with the influx of new people wanting attention, everyone will simply wait longer to get service, if that service is even permitted by those bureaucrats who will determine what we are entitled to receive.  It’s a little like giving everyone some money to get a meal at a local restaurant.  The only problem is that none of the restaurants has any food.

Before heading off to Martha’s Vineyard, the Prez lambasted Republicans for wanting to deprive 30 MM Americans of good health insurance.  (Actually, I’m not sure if he even employed the word good).  But the truth of the matter is that having good health insurance and having good health are unrelated to each other.

If you are fortunate, have good genes, eat well, maintain a healthy lifestyle, barring an accident, you are likely to have very little need for health insurance.  In your case the amount that you spend for health insurance is simply money that went down the drain.  Well, that’s the nature of insurance.  We buy it but we hope never to have to use it.  Who wants to cash in on that premiere home insurance policy which will rebuild our house and replace our furnishings after the house was demolished by a tornado?

Several days ago in my post “The Cure For Cancer,” I quoted the American Diabetes Association in their analysis of the financial implications of this one disease.

“For the cost categories analyzed, care for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for more than 1 in 5 health care dollars in the U.S., and more than half of that expenditure is directly attributable to diabetes.”

Diabetes is one condition which the medical industry refers to as a “chronic disease.”  There are others which also contribute to our state of ill health.  Certainly overweight and obesity which, like diabetes have been labeled by both the CDC and NIH as of “epidemic proportion” fit that category.  In and of themselves they kill relatively few people (although they have a severe impact on productivity) but they are the gateways to cardio-vascular conditions which are the single greatest cause of health-related deaths among Americans – to the tune of about 700,000 per year.

Now what’s interesting in this whole discussion is that Obama’s implication is that the 30 million whom Republicans want to deprive of health insurance are people about whom they don’t care.  The implication is that these are “poor people” (translation Democrats) and the further translation of that is “black/minority”.

A division of the Department of Health and Human Services is something known as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  In a report they published in November, 2001 they made the statement that black Americans are between 1.4 to 2.2 times as likely to contract diabetes as are their white counterparts.  They made this further statement about immigrant populations who were Hispanic:

“In studies comparing migrant populations with native non-migrant populations, a consistent linkage of type 2 diabetes with the American lifestyle was found. According to AHRQ-funded researchers, this lifestyle includes a diet higher in total calories and fat but lower in fiber, as well as the tendency to expend less energy because of laborsaving devices. All minorities in the United States for which data exist have a higher prevalence of diabetes than do residents of their countries of origin.”

There we have it – something that kooks like Gaylord Hauser and other nutritionists from back in the ‘60’s were preaching and whose words were scoffed at by the medical establishment.  Sure our genes are important determinants – but we have no control over our parents and our lineage.  But we do have the ability to control how we manage our lives whether we were blessed with great genes or ones that are not so good.  Unfortunately, that message, while not missing entirely from our approach to good health, has been the most understated in this whole conversation.

While I do not follow either a vegan or vegetarian regimen, I have five friends who do.  I can tell you that not one of them is overweight and all of them are extremely active both in their business and personal lives.

I also know many people who hit up fast food restaurants for five to ten meals a week.  Virtually all of them are overweight and several are obese.  Their greatest level of activity is flipping the remote control to find out about the latest product which promises that if they simply swallow a pill, they can continue to eat as they do now and still lose weight.

That products such as the “no-diet-change-weight-loss pills sell speaks to the fact that we are unwilling as a country to take individual responsibility for our health (or much of anything else).  And in that environment, it is understandable why we elect people to public office who play to our weakness and pass acts such  as the ACA.

Apparently, most of us really want to have a nanny government to whom we can turn, who will kiss our boo boo and make the pain go away.  I miss my mom and dad too, but at least when they comforted me I knew that they sincerely cared.  I have no such sense of comfort when government dispenses its largesse.

In the half hour I’ve been writing this post I’ve heard two ads on television (which I keep on for background noise).  Both were for trial lawyers who will happily represent us if we are female and had a “mesh or bladder sling” implanted and have suffered adverse effects; and the second willing to represent women who might have taken Lipitor – which “allegedly” may have caused an increased risk in their developing diabetes.

If you go to the Medicare website, the very first thing that you will be asked is whether or not you want more information on Part D insurance (prescription drug coverage).  The cost of prescription drugs represents a massive percentage of our “healthcare” costs.  Not a bad price to pay if these drugs actually cured our maladies – but ninety percent of them simply don’t – and almost all have dreadful side effects.

There is one further thought about “healthcare” availability which every serious person should consider.

Do you really believe that a program, directed by an administration that has consistently lied to the American people; who have exempted those with whom it is in bed from this rule or that regulation; who have exhibited no ability to get its only “accomplishment” up and running in a way in which anyone could have any confidence; and whose only “accomplishment” is being forced down the throats of Americans, the vast majority of whom oppose its implementation; do you believe that sort of an administration which has exhibited nothing but total incompetence and elitism will, in fact, “mete out” healthcare on an equal basis to everyone?

Those who want to criticize big business have no further to look than big government and big pharmaceutical companies who rank as the number one or two largest government lobbyist year after year after year.  Either by itself is dangerous – combined they may prove fatal.

If you do not now believe that your health is your personal responsibility – Obamacare may change your view – very quickly.

THE CURE FOR CANCER

My father was one of the most generous people who ever lived on this planet.  He would help out anyone if it were within his power, whether or not he knew or liked the person.  I guess in today’s parlance, you would call him a chump.

I don’t know how many times he and I were out walking and a “bum” would ask him for a hand out.  Dad never refused one of these men the change he had on him – or if he had none, a small bill or two.

His generosity extended to everything he did – how he treated his employees and how he contributed to charities in which he believed.  Although he did not subscribe to the tenets of the Salvation Army, he always made a point of dropping a five or ten dollar bill in their red kettles during the Christmas Season.  As he pointed out, “During the Great Depression, they were the only organization that would give away free donuts to those who needed something to eat.  The only one.”

I offer this not as a paean to my father but to put in context something that he said many times.  It was the reason that he refused to give money to “charities” whose work consisted of trying to eradicate some particular disease.

When asked by a friend if dad contributed to The American Cancer Society, he replied with an emphatic, “Absolutely not.  If they actually found the cure for cancer, they would suppress it.  There are too many people who make a living from fund raising for them ever to let that cure be released to the world.”

Now that may sound cynical to you – but if you stop to think about it for a minute one thing should be very clear – particularly in light of all the conversation centered around Obamacare.  We know that the health care industry represents approximately one sixth of our economy.  That includes doctors, dentists, hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers, pharmacists and, of course, prescription and non-prescription drugs.  And as large as it is now, it can only grow bigger under Obamacare as we add a new layer of bureaucrats to try to mis-manage it further

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time you realize that I normally reference “health care” under the more accurate name “disease maintenance”.  Put another way, our drug-therapy-centric system merely ameliorates the symptoms that our various maladies cause.  Ninety percent of our drugs treat symptoms (sometimes with devastating side effects) but do nothing to correct the underlying physical condition.  If you question the truth of that statement ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Since we have classified so many different forms of cancer, let me offer the easier example of diabetes to illustrate my point.

We know that in the U. S. we have an outbreak of diabetes which is nearing (and will soon reach) epidemic proportions.  To call this a plague is not to over-exaggerate.  We also know that the adult version of this disease, Type II, most often results from the dietary choices we make throughout our growing years and our adult lives.

This is a crippling and a chronic illness.  It has significant implications for those who allow it to go uncontrolled which may result in amputations, blindness and nearly always has severe impacts on cardio-vascular health (another chronic illness).  So how do we deal with treatment for those who have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes?

Is our emphasis on educating these patients on the foods which they should be eating and those which they are to avoid?  Yes.  That’s about ten per cent of our treatment.  But ninety percent of our treatment is establishing them on a regimen of blood monitoring and dispensing insulin to control their condition.

The medical industry doesn’t make a lot of money selling its patients on the idea of going to the grocery store and loading up on fruits and vegetables.  In fact, it makes none.  But it does make a lot of money selling blood glucose monitors and diabetic supplies.

The following is what the American Diabetes Association (ADA ) has to say about this disease:

The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 is $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. The largest components of medical expenditures are hospital inpatient care (43% of the total medical cost), prescription medications to treat the complications of diabetes (18%), anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies (12%), physician office visits (9%), and nursing/residential facility stays (8%). People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of about $13,700 per year, of which about $7,900 is attributed to diabetes. People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes. For the cost categories analyzed, care for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for more than 1 in 5 health care dollars in the U.S., and more than half of that expenditure is directly attributable to diabetes.

If the ADA’s analysis is correct, last year we spent over $52 Billion as a nation on prescription medicines to “treat the complications of diabetes” and on anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies.  That, by virtually anyone’s standards, is a lot of money – spread over a lot of companies that manufacture and distribute these products and which support a lot of people who are their employees.

Where is the incentive for our medical professionals to cure this disease when those who treat patients with diabetes collectively earned $20 Billion last year in office visits from those who suffer from this malady?  Or for our hospitals to do all within their power to eradicate this disease which earned them revenues of over $75 Billion?

This isn’t a matter of rejecting the common logic and practice of medicine as we find it in this country.  This is merely a matter of applying common sense to a nonsensical way in which we treat disease and asking, “Why would ‘health care professionals’ pursue a path that does not cure but merely ameliorates the symptomology of a disease?”  If you can find an answer to that question that is something other than “money” or sheer ignorance, please share it with me.

In all fairness to our doctors and others in our medical establishment who are devoted to providing quality patient care and who make that their first priority, I believe it is only honest to say that even if they were to get on my bandwagon and to  insist that their diabetic patients observed a life style and eating regimen that might resolve this medical condition, it is likely that only a small percentage would do so.

We have developed a mind set of entitlement and immediate gratification.  We pop a pill to lose weight or so that we can achieve an erection and we smear our faces with creams that we hope will take years off our appearance.  And the drug and cosmetics industries, recognizing our weakness, feed our human frailty with “newer and bigger and faster and more effective” products to satisfy our laziness and vainglory.

Perhaps, even if for all the wrong reasons, the country is beginning to wake up to the perils that Obamacare presents.  Perhaps there is a stirring among at least a few of us that we do not have trust in the government to make wise decisions about our health care and that ultimately the responsibility for staying in good health falls neither to the bureaucrats nor to our doctors but is ours and ours alone – because we are the only “me” that is now, has been or ever will be on this planet.

Perhaps, something good will come out of our objection to Obamacare.  Hopefully, it will be an awakening that the individual has responsibility for his own life and his own actions and will not allow an impersonal government to make decisions which rightly belong to each of us and to each of us alone.

If that were to occur to enough people it might start a revolution of thought and action which would make the Founding Fathers  proud of the great experiment that they set in motion nearly two hundred fifty years ago.

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