|Democracy and the Shock Doctrine||President Obama's Problem|
by Christopher Chantrill
January 15, 2009 at 6:32 pm
WE SPEND an enormous amount on health care in the United States. But what do we get in return? One of the most extensive studies of health care, the famous RAND study on health insurance conducted between 1974 and 1982, found that the availability of free health insurance didnt seem to have a significant health outcome, except that people consumed about 30 percent more health care when it cost them less.
Robin Hanson attributes this anomalous result to the notion that the activity we call medicine covers two types of medicine. There is medicine that makes you better. Then there is medicine that makes you worse.
[H]ealth policy experts know that we see at best only weak aggregate relations between health and medicine, in contrast to apparently strong aggregate relations between health and many other factors, such as exercise, diet, sleep, smoking, pollution, climate, and social status.
Whatever health policy experts may know, politicians know that people want more affordable health care. Thats because we dont spend money on health care because it works, according to Robin Hanson. We spend it because it shows we care.
In the Obama era, you might think there is no point in listening to a libertarian analyst like Hanson. But you never know. In the Wall Street Journal last week the goo-goo guys told us that the science on alternative medicine is decided. We are talking about Alternative Medicine is Mainstream by Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Rustum Roy, and Andrew Weil. What do they assert?
Many people tend to think of breakthroughs in medicine as a new drug, laser or high-tech surgical procedure. They often have a hard time believing that the simple choices we make in our lifestyle what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke cigarettes, how much exercise we get, and the quality of our relationships and social support can be as powerful as drugs and surgery.
We spend $100 billion a year on two major procedures, angioplasties and stents, they write. Yet a recent study found that angioplasties and stents do not prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients. Another study followed 30,000 men and women on six continents and found that changing lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease. The disease that accounts for the most premature deaths, they say, is almost completely preventable by changing diet and lifestyle.
And, they claim, Candidate Obama agreed with us. According to the Obama campaign literature:
An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely.
Historians looking at life expectancy agree too. In Rising Life Expectancy: A Global History. James Riley identifies six areas that have reduced mortality: public health, medicine, wealth and income, nutrition, behavior, and education. Unfortunately it is difficult to determine how much each of these factors contribute to a longer life.
So liberals, conservatives, and historians are agreed. Medicine by itself is not the primary factor in life expectancy. Lifestyle choices are the real drivers of healthy living.
How does a new Democratic administration deal with the fact that lifestyle choices drive health, well-being, and life expectancy? The answer is simple. Consistent with its liberal culture of compulsion it cranks up ways to force Americans to eat right, exercise right, and live right. How will the Obamanoids do that? They will start by bashing the corporations.
Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has already shown how it works. People are getting fat! Evil fast-food corporations are manipulating them with deceptive advertising and super-size portions! We must force the fast-food corporations to serve healthy food to American consumers and end Americas obesity epidemic!
When the arm-twisting of the fast-food corporations fails then the food Nazis will resort to sterner measures. There are already hints of this in Britain, where the government is starting to mutter about denying expensive medical procedures to the morbidly obese.
What are they talking about? Nobody will actually be denied medical care. What do you think medical ethicists are for? If procedures to treat morbidly obese patients dont produce positive outcomes, then its perfectly ethical to change the standard treatment protocols and cut out the wasteful and ineffective procedures.
After all, why not? A government that has gutted the value of a dollar by 96 percent in less than 100 years can surely find a way to erase a trivial problem like the $34 trillion Medicare unfunded liability. All you have to do is bash a corporation and then change the rules while nobody is looking.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists
conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
Paul Dirac: When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated
by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that
I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion.
However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and
inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he
suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.
John Farrell, The Creation Myth
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization