The health-wealth connection: a grassroots revolution in personal responsibility
Health (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
Imagine a family that is facing some kind of a health challenge. The family has been spending $1000 per month on expenses related to health, such as medical care, health insurance, gym membership, exercise equipment, medications, and even groceries. However, the health challenge is getting worse. So, the family reviews it’s budget and spends $1500 the next month. Soon, the health challenge get even worse. Then, the spending on health is raised to $2000 per month, then $2500 per month, and with each increase in spending, the health challenge gets more and more severe.
What is the natural conclusion to make when reviewing this pattern? Is it to spend more on the same kinds of methods that have been disappointing? Or is it to be fully aware of the disappointing results of the prior methods and be open to new methods?
But what if it is not a single family, but a neighborhood? What if the neighborhood spends $100,000 per year, then $150,000 the next year, then $200,000 and so on, yet the results in terms of actual health are worse and worse? Then is the natural conclusion to increase funding for clearly disappointing methods or to explore a new approach?
What if it is a national government? What if the governments spends $1 trillion on health in a decade, then 1.5 and 2.0 and 2.5 in the following decades, yet overall health declines further with each increase in spending? Should spending be increased more for the same old paradigm or should new approaches be explored?
Historical government spending by major function in the United States from 1902 to 2010 (2008 estimate, percent GDP) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Notice that it may be much easier for an individual to alter personal behavior than for bureaucracies to alter their practices. If there is a huge increase in spending, but not a huge increase in funds available, then a huge increase in spending might naturally result in individual people being more open to recognizing disappointing results as disappointing and then changing their spending habits as financial challenges also begin to arise from their health challenges (and their chosen responses to the health challenges).
The average financial health and physical health of much of the developed world is declining. For instance, obesity rates are rocketing while average net worth per household is declining. (In the US state of Arizona, where I currently live, almost all real estate speculators are “upside down” on their mortgages, which means that their practice of gambling on borrowed money has decreased their financial “net worth,” sometimes accelerating them toward bankruptcy.)
Now, in the context of rising rates of financial crisis, rising rates of health crisis, and rising spending on disappointing health care methods, it may be intriguing that sources of information which are clearly established as lacking in competence are still considered credible by so many people. For instance, if the FDA publishes guidelines that are marketed as promoting health and preventing obesity, but there are clear indications that following those guidelines promotes obesity (and even prevents health), then those results establish the FDA guidelines as unreliable (at best) and also as either irrelevant or counter-productive. However, when the FDA later presents a slight revision, how is it that so many people are interested in what a discredited source says next?
English: Logo of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here is a big part of why so many people still pay attention to the FDA. Briefly, we are dealing with a religious belief system of presumptive superstitions being followed by a panicking herd. Because there is a general culture of hysteria or panic or dis-ease, rational thinking is not to be expected from the individuals within the herd. If the FDA is perceived as an infallible god, then whatever god says will be given trust by the masses simply because they are in a panic. If god says to spend more on methods that also happen to be well-established as having no value or to be counter-productive, all that a panicking member of the herd is aware of is first the fact that god spoke and second the instructed action that god commanded.
There is no rational thinking involved. There is a state of panic or emergency and an automatic, hypnotic reflex by the terrified masses.
So, the FDA has no magical increase in scientific credibility as of today- no more credibility than decades ago when they began issuing the kinds of guidelines that have resulted in dramatic declines in over health and dramatic increases in health challenges, health care spending, and profits by mainstream health care providers. Consider further that the economic and financial challenges of households and nations cannot be from any other cause but disappointing choices.
I may be over-simplifying when I emphasize personal choice as the primary or even exclusive source of results. However, it is a useful presumption.
Consider that if there was a lack of concern and foresight about risks (such as the danger of an earthquake or of driving a car), then, after a natural disaster or collision, one can recognize one’s own choices as having been part of the process that led to the results. This is not a matter of blame, for blame generally does nothing to improve the results of prior choices (unless there is also a lawsuit involved). In other words, if I reject the idea of personal responsibility, then we can notice that blame and resentment are natural consequences of… the CHOICE to reject the idea of personal responsibility, personal influence, personal power.
Notice that now we are constructing our language around a presumption of personal responsibility or empowerment. If I blame the FDA for being incompetent, then I may struggle to reform them and oppose them and to promote some ideal of “bureaucratic responsibility” (which may be a fantasy or delusion) . I may find that such choices or investments (which arise from a rejection of personal responsibility and a religious practice of blaming others) to be initially very passionate, but soon frustrating and even exhausting.
The basic disappointment in the results of my choices would remain. First, I followed the FDA guidelines and my health suffered (along with my finances). Then, I invested in reforming a bureaucracy and so my health and finances suffered even more.
Logo of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The symbol represents the American People sheltered in the wing of the American Eagle, suggesting the Department’s concern and responsibility for the welfare of the people. The logo is the department’s main visual identifier; the seal is now used for mainly legal purposes. The color can be either black or reflex blue. More information here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However, if I simply recognize my own disappointment at my own initial choice to invest in the recommendations (commandments, belief systems) of the FDA, then there is no blame in that. I was naive. I was operating from a state of confusion and hysteria and panic within an irrational herd. I might have even felt threatened and insulted if someone suggested that my infallible god be questioned in regard to scientific credibility. “What quack would suggest a review of actual results? This is my presumptive religion which I call science! I do not need to use rational thinking to review results! My infallible god, the FDA, has spoken. What other proof of scientific credibility could possibly be relevant?!?!”
At the time, I might have viciously argued and defended and then condemned and ridiculed critics and even skeptics. “How can you be so arrogant and naive as to entertain any question of the divine authority of the FDA?!?!” In other words, I might have been operating from a state of confusion and hysteria and panic within an irrational herd!
So, what else is there to do? There is the alternative of studying some reliable results (some science), and then applying science to your health.
In my own personal case, I had a major breakdown in physical health in which I lost the ability to walk and had a severe decline in neurological functionality. A western doctor would have called my condition “Multiple Sclerosis” and probably would have labeled it “incurable” (which simply means that the doctor does not have enough competence in the biochemistry and physiology of the human organism to understand and reliably treat the condition).
I had a full overnight recovery. My recovery immediately followed my choice to invest less than five dollars in purchasing a food that has been common for humans for over 10,000 years.
You might be surprised at the very low cost of the recovery. Note that prior to my recovery, my physical condition (which was the natural results of my chosen behaviors) was severely limiting my ability to earn money. My expenses rose as a result of my health challenges (which were the result of my personal choices), which also resulted in my productivity and income declining.
I am grateful to have survived as well as grateful for the severe decline in health which cultivated a deep personal responsibility in me. When my health challenges climaxed, the ritual practice of blame (vilifying others and identifying myself as a helpless victim of the identified villain) was still a very real part of my life (and of my language). However, it was extremely obvious to me that blaming others had no practical value to me in regard to improving my health.
Government spending (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
Imagine if millions of people in the US who are so disabled that they are not contributing to the US economy and indeed are receiving government hand-outs were suddenly to have dramatic improvements in their physical health due to improved choices. Imagine the value that such a development could add to the productivity of the nation and the global competitiveness of the US.
Imagine if instead of pouring trillions of dollars in to mainstream medical methods that show decreasing effectiveness, individuals one by one began to invest in things like five dollars worth of a reliable remedy for multiple sclerosis? Imagine the vast improvement to their health. Imagine the vast improvement to their economic productivity and finances. Imagine if a simple choice to discontinue the rejection of personal responsibility could lead to a total transformation of humanity.
Next, imagine blaming a 2nd grader for not being especially competent in algebra, rocket science, and human physiology. Then, imagine investing trillions of dollars in the services of incompetent 2nd graders and then blaming the 2nd graders for the results produced by your investing in their services.
“They should be giving me better results! Those 2nd graders need to reform their system and stop calling algebra impossible or unsolvable and also stop calling immune system responses incurable or untreatable. They need to be more mature and more intelligent! Algebra problems can be solved by anyone competent in algebra! Health challenges can be resolved by anyone competent in physiology and biochemistry! Those incompetent 2nd graders are to blame for us investing naively in their incompetence!“
Ritalin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That may be precisely how critics of the FDA operate. The FDA is by now clearly established as having no credibility in regard to diet and health.
Maybe it is time to consider who has had credibility in those fields for the last century (while so many of us who have been panicking in irrational herds have been choosing to invest our attention elsewhere). Maybe it is time to explore dramatic improvements to health through dramatic declines in health spending (by re-focusing our spending on experts and methods that have a long-established record of reliable success). Maybe it is time to make new personal choices and challenge others to do the same, cultivating a grassroots revolution in the physical health and economic vitality of not just our household or neighborhood, but entire nations and even all of humanity.
So, I am not against the FDA. If people want to practice that religion and invest in that belief system, that is their choice. However, because the recommendations of the FDA are well-established as directly leading to the rising rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular illness, and so on, I may still comply with regulations that coerce me to support them financially, but I choose to discontinue compromising my health by being a blind follower of their religion of irrationality. At least until they adopt a rational and scientific approach, I will reject their guidelines as disappointing rather than reject personal responsibility by blaming them for the disappointing results of my past choices to follow their guidelines.
I assert personal responsibility. I assert an interest in logic and rationality and science and therefore I adopt at least a skeptical orientation in regard to the assertions and claims made by organizations with no little or no scientific credibility, such as the FDA. I will assess the value of guidelines by reviewing the established results of following those guidelines. I will reject a panicked, hysterical presumption that any particular organization has any credibility whatsoever based on anything other than actual results. That is simply how a revolution in personal responsibility works.
credibility (Photo credit: moond_studio)