The Looming Health Care Trainwreck

“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.”

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Richard, of Free the Animal notoriety, recently posted this erudite dismantling of ADA (American Dietetic Association) group-think (in general), and more specifically, the Tatyana Kour piece that I mentioned a few days ago in this post.  Today’s offering, then, could be thought of as a continuation of that same theme.   This post is not meant to address the (multiple and extreme) failings of the ADA in particular, or government health care reform efforts as such, but will focus more so on each individual’s responsibility to “the health care cause”, and the unique place of Metabolic Syndrome within the grand scheme of things.  That said, in matters concerning the current debate raging on the Hill, and more specifically, in the Senate, I defer once more to the erudite GK Chesterton, and his observation that,

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected”.

Alright, alright – so the “Gub’mit” is a big, broad and easily bashed entity.  And I’ll admit that Gub’mint hatin’ is kinda like hunting sloth – there’s just not much sport in it.  But now that I’m on a roll, I have to add one more philosopher’s take on the subject.  These two snippets are from my man Friedrich Nietzsche, and they offer a tidy segue into what I wanted to discuss today.  In Nietzsche’s view, democracy can be explained as:

“two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to have for dinner” and “A political system calculated to make an intelligent minority subject to the will of the stupid.”

And both statements are apropos, I believe, when it comes to government involvement in health care.  Now, I’m not opposed to government’s involvement in health care in a contemporary Conservative/Progressive sense, nor do I stake any claim along mind-numbing, sound-bite, ideological lines.  There are too many competing (and symbiotic, as well) tentacles wrapped around the whole of the issue.

With that said, to the left is a sketch depiction of how I envision the make-up the black hole that is our (collectively) current health care situation, with Metabolic Syndrome smack dab in the center of the vortex.  All the blather currently taking place on the Hill will ultimately result in only shifting the vortex a smidgen left or right – momentarily deform the storm structure, as it were – until it ultimately re-organizes anew (and it most certainly will) with the same veracity as before.  The only way to permanently disable the storm is to bust-up the vortex, and TTP reader’s know very well how to accomplish that task.  The problem is that the entities fueling the storm have the same knowledge as you and I – or worse, they are truly clueless, manipulable, and in a position to serve, unknowingly as added fuel (see Richard’s post, re: the ADA).  Defeating Metabolic Syndrome is easy – TTP readers slay the beast on a daily basis.  But who stands to profit from this slaying?  No one, and that’s the crux of the problem.  Big Ag., Big Pharma, Big Oil?  Remove Metabolic Syndrome from the center of the storm, and these players’ profits are soon (and permanently) crippled.  Not only are their profits crippled, but their influence over government policy is reduced – double whammy.  The self-perpetuating, self-strengthening storm then collapses in upon itself.  A victory for health equates to an ugly bottom line for the big players, and that simply won’t do.

Surely, though, we’ll all be saved by the next, more enlightened generation, right?  Uhh, not so fast – the big boys, it seems, have beat you to the punch –

Cute, huh?  Budding little diabetics.  Or worse.


Save yourself, and save those who’ll listen and can be turned.  And stay in touch with my friend Brent Pottenger, at healthcare epistemocrat, as he explores some ingenious options for mapping our way out of this morass.

There is hope.  There is always hope.

In health,


9 responses to “The Looming Health Care Trainwreck

    • Grain farming (primarily) and the failure to utilize crop/livestock rotation necessitates the heavy, heavy use of petroleum products. Fuel, transport, fertilizer, processing, packaging…Of course, they are the “big player” who would suffer the least in my scenario, however I believe they do have a significant place in “the storm”.

      • I agree. I think there’s also a relationship between the price of oil, and the subsidies for biofuels to consider, as well.

        We have one set of subsidies that pay farmers not to produce too much corn to keep the price high, and then the government subsidizes biofuel research to make corn even more expensive. But there’s also other subsidies out there to compensate a corn farmer for every acre of corn grown (or acre that just would grow corn).

        It’s all rather confusing, but one thing is clear subsidies meant to keep corn abundant in America for biofuel, for processed foods, and for exports, whatever the price of corn ends up on the market after all of these distortions, these ag subsidies fund the big purchases of petroleum products that help Big Ag keep this machine going, as Keith noted.

        What happens when the price of oil goes up? Corn will get more expensive to produce, and demand to purchase corn will come from the processed food manufacturers and from the gov-subsidized biofuel industry, pushing the price up.

        And to top it off folks, we have inflation! The printing press going off the hook making every dollar printed and in existence worth a bit less per unit which will drive up prices in the long run.

        Will we have Soviet-esque price controls on corn flakes breakfast cereals? If these artificial profit margins from Big Ag break down from a Black Swan of oil price fluctuations and inflation, I can see the US government buying up processed foods companies just like they did with the car companies and the banks.

        Sorry to sound like Mr. Gloom. I’m just saying, The Perfect Storm if left to continue has the potential to get nastier from every angle.

  1. Hi Keith,

    Serendipitously, I just finished reading Dr. Gawande’s latest essay in The New Yorker (thanks to Dave Lull). Gawande writes well, of course, and I respect his work. His essay, while containing many necessary notions, is just white noise, ultimately, since we know that “No System Can Be Created that Will Not Ultimately Implode Under the Weight of a Diseased Citizenry.” Gawande misses the Metabolic Syndrome entirely. He has the wrong map. In contrast, your essay, and your diagram above in particular, capture the problem at hand much more perceptively. Thanks for drawing this picture explicitly and elegantly. You have the right map, I suspect.

    It’s quite a self-collapsing vortex that’s spiraling out of control, unfortunately. Yet, I remain hopeful–there is always hope.

    Cheers to hoping Dr. Gawande will stumble upon some ancestral nutrition wisdom somehow, someway. I’d be happy to have coffee with him, of course, and share …



    • “No System Can Be Created that Will Not Ultimately Implode Under the Weight of a Diseased Citizenry.”

      Pretty much sums-up our collective predicament. No one in a position to influence government and/or industry though, is willing to address this notion, for fear of “biting the hand that feeds”. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

      • “No System Can Be Created that Will Not Ultimately Implode Under the Weight of a Diseased Citizenry.”

        Yeah, and it is not just the number of diseased citizenry, it is the persistence of such citiziens in a diseased state that hastens the demise.

        Pharma make nothing out of the healthy, and only a little out of the cured. The diseased however can be slowly and gently milked for cash in perpetuity. You have just got to do enough to keep them alive.

        There is another thread to this. Big Pharma fund research…the consequences of which are all to obvious.

        What was it they said about the man who created the re-useable match? Business was great for the first year.

        This is the barrier to ‘paleo’ reaching the mainstream. It not only has to fight the dogma on nutrition and exercise, but also has to square-up on economic, political and educational gournds. A lot of money and reputations hang on the ‘conventional wisdom’ and thus the status quo.

        Which researcher or politician will stand up and say they got it wrong? Such a person’s reputation would be left in tatters. Which captain of industry is prepared to say their low fat products or their expensively developed medicines are useless (or inferior to a simple, unpatentable dietary change)? The financial loss would potentially be huge. Enough to sink a business. It is a big ask – the answer is no one.

        The reliance on the ‘diseased’ is too tightly woven in to the fabric of our economies, institutions and societies. The change may come, but it will be hard fought.

  2. Hi Keith,

    I’d like to suggest that there is also a role being played by Big Media…they are making a lot of money informing us that everything being done by the other players is either good for us, or behind the curtain and to be ignored.


  3. Ha. The hope is called evolution. That the diseased and dependent eventually die out.

    I think we’re starting to see some of the effects – BPA concerns, hormonal concerns, pesticide concerns. Cancer is not yet 100% curable. I doubt it ever will be. Diabetes is not curable. Heart disease is not curable.

    Unfortunately, this will require those diseases to shift their age bracket to those who are of reproductive age in order for evolution to take care of the problem. And we’re starting to see it – all three are happening more and more in younger and younger people.

    The way it has always worked best is that ALOT of people have to die before something changes. Sad truth, but truth none the less.

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