SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Health Care vs. Health
By Rob Holston


January 26, 2007
Friday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska - President Bush recently presented his State of the Union Address. Besides the state of foreign affairs and the "war on terror" taking center stage, the president addressed the state of this nation's health. NOT! That would have been refreshing but Bush chose to address this nation's "health care" system, rising costs and health insurance.

Now am I splitting follicles here? I think not. Let me use a couple of historical health analogies. Malaria is known to be spread by an infected female anopheles mosquito so by eliminating the breeding grounds of the mosquito, malaria is controlled. Small pox and polio are controlled by vaccines. If this country did not utilize the methodology for controlling THE CAUSES of these and other diseases, we would be suffering from drastically higher medical costs than we now realize.

The fact is that most historical disease states are abated by society addressing the causes of those disease states. The problem is that Bush and most of society is not willing to address the health of the nation's peoples because we all know that there is no vaccine for stupid decisions or ignorance and the stupor that most folks find themselves in. This stupor of making unwise health decisions is known as "lifestyle" and is the cause of obesity, the root of our health epidemic which leads to heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and a myriad of health concerns that plague the nation.

jpg war on crime...

Food SWAT team
Artist Larry Wright, The Detroit News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

The solution to the "lifestyle" problem is very, very simple. But, don't be mislead, simple does not mean easy. What a person puts in their mouth, in their lungs, up their nose or in their veins is at the heart of the problem. If these decisions were directly linked to intelligence or education, we would have nobody with a PhD who would smoke, use cocaine, drink alcohol or supersize their fast food meal. The truth is that unhealthy addictions span the spectrum of intelligence. Very smart people make very stupid decisions regarding their health. While Bush and most of America will agonize over how to pay for rising health care costs and how to offer health insurance for those who don't have it, the wise will address the cause of the people's health epidemic and what to do about it. The fact is, if we could eliminate obesity at the same success rate that we have dealt with diseases such as malaria, small pox and polio, we would not be facing a health care crisis or a health insurance crisis at all.

Although I'm not a fan of "big brother", I do applaud New York City for their recent ban on trans-fats. Various states and cities now have laws that prohibit smoking in certain places. Big Brother places taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. From these examples we see that government can effectively get involved in the solution of our health care epidemic through bans and taxation. Such efforts can sometimes have an educational ripple effect. Crisco has now announced that their famous shortening will contain zero grams of trans-fats. Praise the Lord! Who would have believed it? I'm not sure I still do. The jury is still out on what is contained in their new Crisco ingredients list.

I think it is now time for the government to entice healthy decisions by offering tax incentives for people who raise healthy families. How about $500 back at tax time for every man, woman and child who is at the ideal BMI or Body Fat %? Oh! My goodness, actually pay people for staying healthy? Would that be more expensive than taking care of a nation full of fat people? I wonder. How would such tax incentives be financed? Well by taxing food and drink that are NOT healthy choices of course! Tax all soda pop (including diet drinks). Tax all fat (trans-fats are taxed double). Tax all sugar (no matter how many different names they use for it). Tax all salt. While we're at it, let's double the tax on alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and cigars. Tax industries that pollute the environment. Taxes have long been used to accomplish two things. Simply raising funds is one such thing and swaying people's choices is another.

The health crisis in America today is a 6-inch crisis. It is the six inches between each individual's ears, where decisions are made on what to eat and drink. Proper eating and drinking does not come easy in today's culture. The tax incentives discussed here would make the food and beverage industries respond by offering healthier choices for the consumers to choose from. The healthier choices would come with a lower price because they would have no additional taxes and at the end of the year the healthy individuals get an end of tax year bonus from the government. The serendipitous result of healthy individuals is healthy industries, healthy communities and a healthy productive nation.

A president is often measured by the GNP or the percent of unemployment to indicate the health of the nation's economy. I look forward to the era when a president will point at the decline in disease and a reversal in the obesity epidemic as a mark towards this nation's progress. It is within the health and vitality of the individuals that this land will reap the rewards of a healthy and vibrant nation.



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Rob is a retired teacher and a resident of Ketchikan, Alaska. He is not a health care professional; however, he has an interest in health and fitness. You should contact your doctor regarding all health care issues and follow your doctor's advice.
Contact Rob at holston[at]

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