Central Planning Is Our Problem
By Mark Luedtke
I applaud Michelle Obama for highlighting the issue of childhood obesity. Who doesn’t want children to be healthier? But more central planning is not the solution.
From the establishment of the American colonies until 50 or so years ago, the American people were the healthiest, best-educated people in the world. Everywhere Americans traveled, they strode like giants among men. But in the last 50 years obesity and diabetes have exploded in the U.S. American life expectancy has flattened and is even backsliding in some areas. American children consistently rank among the lowest in math and reading scores compared to children of other developed nations.
Life expectancy in Washington D.C. is far and away the lowest in the nation. Life expectancy is backsliding in the south and Appalachia. Scientists predict life expectancy will soon decline all over the US. The reason Americans were so healthy and rapidly advanced in life expectancy in the past is they took care of themselves and each other in a system of voluntary exchange, largely free from government interference. But since progressives took over both the Republican and Democrat parties at the beginning of the 20th century, that has dramatically changed.
A lot of our health problems have arisen from government’s century long takeover of the health care industry. As Milton Friedman pointed out in 1997:
“Government’s share (of health care spending) went from an eighth of the total in 1919 to a quarter in 1965 to nearly half in 1997. The rise in the government’s share has been accompanied by centralization of spending—away from state and local governments to the federal government. We are headed toward completely socialized medicine and are already halfway there, if, in addition to direct costs, we include indirect tax subsidies.”
Prophetic. Government dominates our health care system significantly more today than in 1997. Wielding regulations like lightning bolts, striking down the competition, and offering subsidies like manna, aristocrats created Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Medicine as their servants. In return for tribute the aristocrats empower them to loot billions from us. We suffer increased costs and a reduction in quality of service and outcome.
The same thing has happened in agriculture. Wiping out the competition with strokes of their pens, aristocrats created Big Ag, corporate farms and giant food corporations to serve them and pay them tribute. In return the aristocrats empower them to loot us too. The result is our overpriced, unhealthy food supply.
A hundred years ago people cooked with healthy fats like butter, lard and coconut oil. In 1911 Proctor & Gamble introduced the fake oil Crisco, but fake fats didn’t replace healthy ones in the American diet until the FDA adopted policies based on a fraudulent study by Ansel Keys in the 1950s. Keys ignored data from 15 countries in order to produce his fraudulent report that saturated fat caused heart disease. We still suffer the consequences today.
The FDA also created the famous food pyramid that promoted the consumption of grains and very little meat and fat, even though grains are toxic to humans – we never evolved to eat them – and we need large amounts of healthy meat and fat to be healthy. Still today, commercials for whole grain foods, supported by the government despite their toxicity, are everywhere.
As if government hasn’t made us unhealthy enough, corn subsidies and regulations have led to virtually every processed food product in the marketplace containing one of the most dangerous substances in our food supply: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The rise in obesity and diabetes tracks the increase in HFCS in our foods.
In a marketplace free from government coercion, people wouldn’t spend their hard-earned money on toxic products. Fierce competition would make healthy food abundant and significantly cheaper. Processed crap would be virtually non-existent. We can use reason to deduce this, but we can also see it by looking at foreign countries. Up until a decade ago, the U.S. was the only country on earth that suffered from these products. But as other countries become Americanized, their populations are experiencing similar obesity and diabetes epidemics. Blaming corporations instead of government for problems is like blaming dogs for their bad behavior instead of blaming the master that trained them.
But it’s hard to educate Americans about healthy diets because over the last 100 years the government has seized monopoly control of our school system too. Instead of heeding Thomas Jefferson’s warning against compulsory education, our government adopted Karl Marx’s scheme. The mind-numbingly boring and regimented indoctrination centers modeled on the Prussian empire’s schools for creating mindless military drones crush the ability for independent thought from students which makes them easy prey for advertisers even as adults. Plus they’ve been brainwashed into thinking government works in their interest.
The way to make children healthy again is to abolish the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Agriculture and the Dept. of Health and Human Services and get all levels of government out of our economy. This would re-empower people to think and act in their best interest in a competitive marketplace. Government cannot solve our health problems because government is the problem.
Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org