Corporations Are Killing Us

submitted by Joe Detelj

I am of the firm conviction that proper and sufficient health care is a citizen’s absolute right in a civilized society. The notion that every man, woman, and child should provide the means or else be denied access to what is essentially life is as primitive as human sacrifice. Life in the twenty-first century, or more precisely, in the ten thousandth year of settled civilization, is not possible without the collective responsibility, cooperation, and contribution of the society at large. Consider that every physician, nurse, and medical technician was born into a household, constructed by others, provided with clean water and sanitation. The children were protected in a home with safe streets and public utilities. The vast majority attended public schools, instructed by teachers with an identical foundation. At every point they were nurtured and protected, directly or indirectly by an institution funded or subsidized with taxes supplied by various levels of government. And ultimately, all the useful knowledge and experience accumulated within their profession was supplied by the contributions of untold numbers of our predecessors over the past one hundred or so centuries.

The arguments offered in opposition to universal health care are essentially a defense of a corporate world-view that is a phantasm. The corporation, an idea, a mental construct, a Frankenstein monster out of control on a rampage through the countryside, devoid of any human compassion, designed with the singular purpose of gorging ever vaster sums of money with no capacity for satisfaction has been relegated as the instrument for decision making for this most vital of human requirement. The defense is couched in terms of libertarian rhetoric and individual sovereignty by modern sophists in corporate employment. We are assured this is the best of all possible worlds.

This flat earth mentality does not correspond to the reality of the physical realm. Self-sufficiency is not of this world. A human being alone and adrift from society has no meaning, has no relationships, has no way to come into being or to pass on any trace of his being. Physicists, since Albert Einstein recognize relativity as the order of the universe. The relationship of event A to event B determines the material reality we experience. This is not an extraneous thought. When we drill down to the smallest particles of matter, we find the essential organizing principle of relativity to govern. An electron can vary in size and weight but exists in time and space as an event relative to another event termed a proton thus forming the atom. Atoms join to form elements and on and on until, in greater complexity, we find ourselves literally integral to and very much in communion with the universe, a communion more profound than what is commonly understood.

That noted, as fundamental as health care is to life, liberty, and happiness, and as grounded as it is in our physical connection to each other, it ultimately diverts our attention from focusing on the more basic issue which is the present state of our collective health. It is appropriate to ask with some sense of urgency why our need for medical intervention is growing at alarming rates.  Why are we getting sicker as a community and not healthier? The rising trend is shocking when we examine childhood diabetes, immune deficiencies, allergies, cancer, obesity, and the entire range of degenerative diseases. The CDC has projected shorter life spans for this generation relative to their parents, reversing the positive trend that we had previously enjoyed. That portion of our lives when we are the most productive – “the picture of health” and vitality – appears to be contracting for many. As each year passes life support in the form of drugs, surgeries, implants, and properly prescribed mood altering stimulants are the fabric that binds us over until ultimately we are set aside in isolated confinement left to fade away in a nursing home.

Exploring the margins of the available literature, one can find some reasonable explanation for this situation that finds fault rooted in our industrial food system. Again, the same corporate structure that dominates the health industry, dominates the food industry. The pastoral image of the family farmer tending the back forty is a memory for most and Madison Avenue trickery for all. The close alignment of the food and health industries has perpetuated a self-serving endless loop that enhances GDP to the detriment of the general welfare. Profits rise for the undertakers of these institutions and we the less fortunate receive the garbage, toxins, poisoned air, water and soil to assimilate, consume, and mitigate to the best of our abilities. A reckless abandon is at the core of industrial agriculture with its emphasis on factory farms, concentrated animal facilities, massive pesticide and herbicide use, genetic engineering, and a monopolized, vertically integrated distribution network.

There is a wealth of independent data to support the contention that wholesome, nutrient rich, toxin free food is essential to good health. Healthy soils tended by mindful farmers produce healthy food – food that in turn produces healthy eaters. A fundamentally different view of the state of things in sync with the harmony expressed in physical and natural law is the ultimate solution that will allow remediation for the intolerable situation we find ourselves in at this time. We have at our disposal all the tools we need to commence a journey toward a healthier and sustainable climate in which we can express our potential to the fullest. The symptoms of insufficient health care, a malnourished population, and a polluted environment are the fantastic imposition of social structures whose foundation is set on medieval folk-law.

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Reaping the Harvest of Cheap Food

submitted by Joe Detelj

One can not venture too far afield today and not come across some feature article highlighting the health care problem of obesity. This is a crisis of epidemic proportions and attention at the local and national level has been in the main  directed at raising awareness of the short term and future consequences to the individual and society in general. Medical experts, as well as Michelle Obama’s recent widely publicized initiative  to address the issue offer the same homeopathic recommendations, more or less, that have become standard fare: get more exercise, have parents monitor their children’s diet, eat low fat processed food.

While no exception is taken to the recommendation of more exercise and less free market choices for the kids, most if not all the emphasis is targeted at  the individual’s responsibility to “heal thyself”. What is blatantly left out of all the discussions is the reality of public policy. It has been a national policy that began in the Truman administration and continues on steroids to this day to convert a diverse, thriving, healthy and decentralized farm economy into a centralized, monocultural, corporate dominated agra-business. The mantra is, cheap food is good.

Well, we are reaping the harvest of that policy and it can not sustain a label of goodness. The sheer volume and availability of cheap processed food, the privatizing of school cafeterias, the nutrient deficiencies of today’s supermarket vegetables, the convenience of sugar, salt, and saturated fats, bio-engineered calories, all rest on a foundation of public subsidies, special tax treatment, and non-enforcement of existing anti trust laws.

So please, it is time we give equal if not greater focus on the root cause of this epidemic. The farmer, the obese child, more often than not from a home with a below average income level, are not the major culprits. We need to change the structural pillars upon which this problem rests and that is the board rooms and hollowed halls of Washington.