These are not the droids you’re looking for

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“In the next decade every country will face very hard choices about how to allocate scarce medical resources. There is no consensus about what substantive principles should be used to establish priorities for allocations,” he wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 19, 2002. Yet Dr. Emanuel writes at length about who should set the rules, who should get care, and who should be at the back of the line.

Dr. Emanuel makes a clear choice: “When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get changes that are attenuated.”

The youngest are also put at the back of the line: “Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments. . . . (, Jan. 31, 2009).

“This civic republican or deliberative democratic conception of the good provides both procedural and substantive insights for developing a just allocation of health care resources. Procedurally, it suggests the need for public forums to deliberate about which health services should be considered basic and should be socially guaranteed. Substantively, it suggests services that promote the continuation of the polity – those that ensure healthy future generations, ensure development of practical reasoning skills, and ensure full and active participation by citizens in public deliberation – are to be socially guaranteed as basic. Conversely, services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” (And people had the gall to smirk at the idea of “death panels” – the only reason they aren’t death panels is because they aren’t CALLED death panels. Maybe they should just call them “Caskets for Clunkers.”)

Recognize the words of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health advisor to President Obama? Take a peek at John Holdren sometime – he’s no mere advisor; he’s got a backdoor cabinet post – it’s called a “Czar” and it means there is no confirmation process, no accountability to congress or constituencies – he’s merely appointed, and there he stays. He’s the “Science Czar” and he preaches forced abortions for those he deems unfit, forced sterilizations, birth control in the water and food supply to control the population, and forcible removal of children from single mothers or those who deign to have more than two children. Hey, totalitarian madman – Goebbels wants his script back!

Then don’t forget Obama’s declaration to the rabbis that we are partners together in matters of life and death. No. No no we really AREN’T. Who in the hell gave him that delusion of grandeur? All these things taken together, if they don’t give you pause as to who exactly is in charge and is demanding to be put in full charge of your most intimate matters, well, you better wake up and take notice.

The “profit motive” so many decry need only be examined in light of reality – to bring it into perspective let’s look at Barbara Wagner. She had state-run health care, and due to her age and her condition (cancer) it was deemed too expensive to cover the cost of her drugs, the drugs that would have prolonged her life. They did, however, offer to pay for euthanasia. This is in the US, by the way, not in some already-socialized health care country. So what became of her? The evil big pharmaceutical corporation, that had spent millions, perhaps billions developing the drug that would prolong her life and bring her comfort, since they had been allowed to make the profit to sink into that effort and since they could afford to, gave her the drug for free. In fact every pharmaceutical company has a program available to make their drugs free or at a reduced cost to those who can’t afford them, and those on goverment health care are at the top of THAT list. The state put in no personal interest at all – they look at their charts and their tables and say “This person – euthanasia; this person – productive enough and doesn’t cost too much – treatment approved.” The drug company looked at the woman and her circumstances and decided accordingly to give her the drug gratis. The government, which produces nothing (it can only take), which progresses nor grows anything (only what it can confiscate) does not have these resources available – either for the R&D that went into the drug or the ability to give it to certain needful persons for free. That isn’t. how. the. world. works.

But let’s move on. Let’s say for some reason you believe in universal health care and socialized medicine, and you want it to become a reality. Well then you will not be fighting for the passage of this current house bill (try reading it – I know it’s long; that’s the idea; most of them haven’t even read it even as they ram it down our throats) because that isn’t what it is. The preamble states that the purpose is not, as many believe, to provide comprehensive health care to all regardless of their income or station in life; the purpose is to cut costs. To ration healthcare from on high and make life/death decisions in order to bring down the costs of medicine. Now government can’t bring down the cost of anything, and the bill is by and large surprisingly non-specific – but what it DOES do – all 1400 pages of it, is wrest control from private people dealing with private doctors and private companies for what they want and how they want it and what they’ll pay for it, and put the entire control in the hands of as-yet unnamed appointees and yes, PANELS, to make all those decisions for you (you needn’t worry your pretty little heads anymore with making decisions – we will once and forever be CHILDREN instead of free men and women)…with a goal towards lowering costs. Heaven help you if you aren’t “productive” enough for that panel – bottom of the line for you. Or if your illness (obesity, asthma, diabetes, et. al.) are “preventable illnesses” AND you’re not very productive because of them. You think they won’t offer to pay for – not your knee replacement, silly, but your gastric bypass! Or maybe, if you’re too far gone, like Ms. Wagner, your death.

If you really, for whatever bizarre reason, support universal socialized health care, start demanding an ACTUAL universal socialized health care bill, because that isn’t what this is. Oh, there’s elements of it in there, but this thing is just a travesty and any thinking person who’s read it ought to have their heads examined if they support it.

As to this federal bureaucracy being “responsive” to the people living and dying under it? Call up your congressman right now and see what kind of response you get – you might even act like you disagree with this bill, and see what they say. See how “responsive” they are to your pleas. Remember how “responsive” Obama was to the woman who asked about her hundred year old mother that needed a pacemaker, and THAT was while campaigning FOR the bill. Get back to me on that responsive thing. With the government, there IS no appeal. There IS no review. You die, you die. And all the better if you weren’t properly productive anyway, right? C’mon, it’s for the children.

Another One Takes the Cut

I debated a bit whether to post this, but decided to.   When I started this particular job some year and a half ago I was pleasantly surprised to note that there were plenty of fat people around – safety in numbers, you know?   And I was far from the fattest by any means.    But where you find plenty of fat people, you find Biggest Loser competitions, you find dieters, and you find gastric bypass.  Sometimes despite knowing the fact that you believe the surgery (even in your libertarian heart) ought to be outlawed except for all but the most extreme cases of people who are caught between a rock and a hard place and can’t even get out of bed (though that doesn’t mean the surgery will be a cure) your supervisor insists on spouting off to you about how great she sees other people doing with either diets or surgery.  Even when said supervisor never succeeds in a diet herself; she internalizes every example of someone who has taken the cut or starved themselves thin and goes on and on about how it’s a cure for all “the sugar” and how “good” this or that one is being.   Gag me.

Well this time, the first woman who actually made me feel comfortable here, both because she was very fat and because she is really very nice, has decided since her brief, once-in-a-lifetime romance crumbled, that she too has to undergo bypass.    At first I didn’t get it; my supervisor said, “She’s going for a bypass,” and I thought something was wrong with her heart – I was shocked!  This woman has no trouble walking except for some knee pain from various prior falls in her life, she’s over 50, she eats a fair-seeming amount of so-called healthy food, she doesn’t have any mobility issues, no heart problems, no lung problems – just a very large amount of fat from the waist down.    And so-called pre-diabetes.   You don’t even know she’s fat until she stands up, because her shoulders and face are small; she’s like the fattest-bottomed pear I’ve ever seen, and she looks good to me.   She looks…healthy.  She IS healthy.

My fear is that she will no longer remain healthy after such life-altering surgery.

Against all hope, when she mentioned it to me, I hopefully mentioned “So…are you getting the band?”  (Please please please be getting the band.)   Nope.   “Because on the band you can cheat, and with the bypass it’s just one-time, it’s a done deal, there’s no going back, nothing you can do about it.”   Do people hear themselves when they say things like this?   Has she been informed that it can KILL her?   Has she been informed that it’s supposed to be for *serious* health problems and she doesn’t have any?   And then she gets nothing but encouragement from the people around her.   Now I’m not going to say anything one way or the other except to hope for a good recovery – but there is no real recovery from surgery designed to create within you a disability and malnutrition, is there?

I am afraid she will possibly turn to substances, if indeed she uses food for comfort (who doesn’t?) as so many surgery candidates do.   I am afraid that she will get rickets or any one of those other hideous malnutrition diseases or, God forbid, as happens frequently, they simply cut a little too much, you go bald and shrivel away and die over the course of a year, only they can’t attribute it to the surgery anymore.   I’m afraid she is going to wreck her healthy glow and her cheerful disposition.

Am I afraid that I’ll be one of the fattest women in the place?   No.   I have a feeling she will not even get down to my size before the first year is up and she’s not the only fat person by a longshot.   But I’m uncomfortable with how this surgery has been portrayed in this establishment, how many people have undergone it, and how many are held up as having done so well.   I don’t want her to be an example, do I?    Well, no.    I don’t fucking know how to feel about it because of that, and frankly, I don’t want to keep thinking about it right now.    It’s enough to make a person go on a diet, isn’t it?   (Well, no.)

Face Transplant

Connie Culp

Above is Connie Culp, recipient of a face transplant. Her own face was shot off by her husband years ago, who then turned the gun on himself…and failed again. He’s locked away, thankfully. Connie managed to survive as well, but despite much reconstruction she had no sense of smell, no nose, one eye, no lower eyelids, could not eat or taste, and would not be able to recover these things through conventional reconstructive efforts.

One time a child said to her mother, “Mommy, you told me there were no real monsters and there’s one right there!” (To the pain – very real pain.) She magnanimously told the child that she wasn’t a monster but a woman who had been shot and showed the child how she used to look via her drivers’ license.

Through the efforts of a kind donor family, she was given a whole new face by the Cleveland Clinic, and at only 1/4 – 1/3 the cost of normal reconstructive surgeries. She can now smell, eat, taste, and is doing fabulously – having to take very few immuno-suppression drugs, regaining blood flow and muscle tension. The excess folds will be removed as she continues to recover.

The clinic is going to **absorb the costs** of the surgery because it was experimental. This is the beauty in action of what is left of the free market – because they were allowed to make and use profits, they were able to advance medicine greatly, help people in genuine need regain meaningful things in their lives (smell and taste and food? Let me tell you, she’s mighty glad to have now eaten hamburgers and fries and pizza again!) In addition to advancing medicine and help someone in real need, they are even advancing a way to help cut the costs of some very expensive procedures, like reconstructions. All without the government using trillions of confiscatory tax dollars to do so.

These things don’t occur under fully socialized regimes, and can’t in the long run, because it all has to be rationed and progress – real progress – doesn’t get made. The market is able to let people do fabulous things like this, things that would have been pure science fiction only scant years ago. Why are we so willing to kneecap it and halt the progress of the most advanced societies on earth (who also end up providing care pro bono to some of the poorest people in the world – where do the children from Middle America with harelips or who are conjoined come to get free advanced surgeries to save their lives?) while trading in our liberties at the same time? Not without a fight.

And to brighten your day, here’s a bit of cheer! (Though I’m a little sad the cloud left at the end – without him there wouldn’t be rainbows now, would there?)

I might have chosen a different product, but it’s nice anyway 🙂 H/T The Rotund

Slim 365 – Oprah used it, so should you!

I got a slimming pill ad in my email, and being bored today I decided to open it up. How little has changed since I spent my adolescence dieting on and off with the same ten pounds. Hey, it seemed like a lot at the time, and I’d always been so skinny it was devastating to gain weight, you know! I used to read all the crappy pitches for pills in the back of trashy magazines, and sometimes I’d even order them. By the time I cottoned to the fact that every single one came with a stringent, 1000 calorie diet that had to be followed (when the ads said “Do nothing and lose tons of weight!”) I stopped buying them. I once ordered the one thing that sounded different – Chinese edible crystals that you sprinkle on your food and eat, or dissolve in water and drink, and it would do its magic in your tummy, and you would just lose weight. Eat whatever you want. So I tried it. The third day I woke up at exactly the same time (10 hours after eating the crystals) with the same hard bubbled-out belly that HURT and caused me to spend at least 45 minutes in the bathroom to end it. When I realized what was causing that, I stopped using it. I did leave one packet in water and by the next morning it had turned into a sticky mass of clear slime. Weird. But at least it was different.

I don’t think these companies are even trying anymore. There were always ads that certain combinations of foods could make you lose weight with no effort, that this pill would speed up your metabolism (caffeine, and later guarana), lessen your appetite (again, caffeine and nausea from whatever else they put in it) and a starvation diet would combine to make you skinny by summer! Then came SlimFast and it seemed ok – drink two meal replacement shakes a day – chocolate! which you’re deathly sick of by day 3 – and eat a sensible dinner. I decided it would be cheaper (and the same calorie-wise) to drink two pints of chocolate milk (full fat) – Nestle – and eat that sensible dinner from the menu plans that came with the SlimFast. It worked. Of course I could smoke at my desk then and I spent a fortune on cigarettes, but whatever. Once I tried my doctor’s 1000 calorie diet while doing nautilus and aerobic walking at the gym and lost 20 lbs and looked like a hardbody; that was kind of fun. It took a few months to gain it back that time. I tried LA Weight Loss but the food was so heinous I had to stop in a week – hot lemon juice in the morning followed by rabbit food and Wasa crackers and fake bacon bits. Wasa crackers are evil. (My apologies to fans.) My metabolism changed completely after I had a baby, and that was that. 6 months on Jenny Craig and two hours rigorous workout daily and I lost maybe 5 pounds – yeah, no. I gave up then and there.

But back to Slim 365. (The link and a review.)

Let’s replay the past, shall we?

Block dietary fats, eh? Gee, I thought we learned with starch blockers that blocking one of the three ways you can ingest a calorie was a Bad Idea. In, like, the early 90s. You don’t hear about the miracle starch blockers much anymore. Too many sick people. Now we’ll block fat, like Olestra, and we can have anal leakage so foul that they tell you to carry extra pants and warn that the stain will never come out of your toilet. Yum. Maybe that’s how they suppress your appetite.

Increase your resting metabolism. Caffeine again! I take Ativan to prevent jitters and panic attacks and aid my fight against insomnia; the last thing I want in my body is caffeine to make me jitter and jounce and stay awake. No thanks.

It suppresses your appetite. More nausea! Yay! If I’m going to torment myself, I might as well just buy Dexatrim; it has the same effect. You don’t lose weight, but you feel like shit.

Plus, it cleanses your body! I thought water, kidneys, the liver, skin and the like did that? But hey, if you want to go in for a useless colonic irrigation, go for it – whatever floats your boat. All that stuff woulda been gone the next day anyway, but who’m I to tell you what to do?

Also, Oprah did not use this product nor has she endorsed it. So they still lie.

Do these pitches ever change? The pills? Who buys this stuff?

Webmd says it will improve your skin and help you avoid diabetes. Now there’s a responsible claim. Based, I assume, on the erroneous truism that it’s fat that causes diabetes? Shocker.

You know, it’s just so boring. To read a weight loss pill ad all these years later and find it exactly the same as the ones I’ve ever read – from the pitch, to the false claims, to the things it does…can’t they at least be a little creative?

Of Breasts and Money

Or, you know, health care.

This was a comment I made on BL’s last post and she requested that I make it a stand-alone for further discussion. I was so flattered I did it immediately.

Ok, I haven’t read all of this one yet (BL, you have a terrific talent for composing amazingly rich, thorough, well-referenced posts that can take days to really absorb! Wow!) but I’m loving it. Richie, I haven’t read your part of the actual post, but the comment you left above is amazing – it’s kind of like a mirror of BL’s talent; meaning, to be able to put SO MUCH into so few words! In other words, at the risk of sounding gushy, I feel like I’m in wonderful company here.

Deana struck a big nerve with me – that part when people from places with socialized medicine tell us how great it is because it’s free, and that we should have it for free too, always cracks me up. I knew a Swedish woman (oh, she was obnoxious) who used to love to tout what a wonderful economy they had there, and how morally superior they were as a people because all their medical care was “free” and in fact their society was so free and un-greedy that if a stranger wanted to sleep for the night in someone else’s backyard, it was just customary that you let them do so. Even if they didn’t ask first. (Which sounds like trespassing and a dangerous practice, but hey, they’re all just good and non-dangerous and so forth.) Anyway, point was that I kept explaining to her that the word “FREE” did not mean what she thinks it means. I kept asking her what she thought free meant, and her concept of it was so shallow that she really thought it meant that one didn’t have to pay for it.

Look, when I was 15 years old, that’s what I thought it meant too. But when you’re a 40-something year old woman who claims to be a PhD and you don’t understand what “free” means even when someone explains it to you, there’s a problem.

Now, I am coming to a point here, please bear with me. I’m going to do it in a roundabout way. If it’s too long and boring, I won’t be insulted if you skip it; fair warning that I’m long-winded tonight.

Ok, let me start with Patch Adams. Has anyone seen that movie? Because Patch Adams had this dream of a new style of medicine (and I found it pretty gross that even though his idea got his dear friend murdered he still thought it was good, but that’s an aside). Clearly he was an intelligent man and a talented doctor; no argument there. But when he wanted to practice his style of medicine, he and his friends had to raid the supplies of a nearby “stodgy” hospital – the kind that was hampered by the necessity of, you know, PAYING for the stuff they used to help the sick people. In other words, they STOLE the stuff and then called it “free.” And this was supposed to be a good thing. See, if you do it for a good reason, it doesn’t matter what the unintended consequences are (such as, say, the hospital losing expensive supplies that they had bought and thus needing to cover their losses, probably by being horribly mean and charging even more for their services). It was all very light-hearted, and one of those fun “bonding” experiences going into the hospital and stealing stuff for their own patients. It made them the good guys, because they were doing it to help people for free. But it wasn’t free. There are people working for low wages in the places that MAKE those cotton balls and bottle that rubbing alcohol and ship it and drive the trucks that deliver it, and they have to be paid. There are people who harvest the cotton and people who grow it and people who chop down the trees to make the tongue depressors. There are all these millions of people involved in doing the WORK to get those supplies to that hospital.

There are doctors who spend many years in school studying very difficult subjects and sacrificing years of their lives who either have to have rich families, or take out massive student loans which later have to be repaid, then further years working as residents with scant sleep and a very demanding physical and mental task. There are nurses who spend years studying as well, then spend their own years dealing with rowdy drunks who end up in the ER after fights and sometimes get combative, who barely have time to eat and spend countless hours on their feet and putting people on bedpans. There are orderlies who have to do a buttload of heavy work.

Do these people not deserve the money they earn? All of them, from the cotton pickers to the surgeons? What right does anyone have to steal the fruits of their labor or to demand that they shouldn’t receive their salaries? Where does anyone get the idea that just because they themselves might not have to pay for any of it that that means it is FREE? None of it is free.

To socialize it only means to shift the cost somewhere else and add an entirely new level of bureaucracy in order to administrate it, which means that it costs that much more to pay the people who do THAT part of it. Which is, on its surface, a net loss. If you can still find an elderly doctor, the kind who used to hang out a shingle (I have one myself, and it’s a rare treasure) they will tell you that before costs started going through the roof with the first bureaucracy (insurance, and later the worse HMOs) it was little to no trouble to treat most patients at a reasonable rate and have more than enough to treat poorer patients at a reduced rate or for free. But with each new bureaucracy and each resulting increase in COSTS, it became more and more difficult to keep treating people for free or on the cheap, and thus more people ended up *needing* more help, and more bureaucracies and more cost increases, in a vicious cycle.

But what galls me the most about all this occurring and spiraling ever downward is that all these horrible things – that dirty dirty word – that whole **profit** thing, was what went into research and development! The more money the medical profession made and was allowed to actually keep and use, the more nifty new things they could INVENT and learn about. Profit, in the medical profession, translated into BETTER medical care, better machines, new and better treatments, new and better medicines, more help for people to live healthier and more enjoyable lives. But all our entitled people can see is that some of those guys drive a fucking Porsche and dammit, I don’t have one, so why should he? Well, why SHOULDN’T he? Haven’t they helped make things better for us all? It’s the same with everyone being mad at CEOs for getting big bonuses (I’m not talking about AIG here; this has been an issue way before bailouts, which are a different animal.) Everyone wants to bite the hand that feeds them because that hand has a pretty ring on it. Prettier than mine, thus bad.

So the long and short of it is, you socialize the health care further and further, eventually completely, and medical progress comes to a grinding HALT. Doesn’t this bother anyone? Do we think there is no further progress coming? Because human ingenuity, combined with the means, derived from profits, can make amazing progress and can KEEP making progress. What the hell good is free health care for everyone if they’re never going to find a cure or invent a decent machine to even diagnose what’s ailing you? It sounds good now because we HAVE already made so much progress and we think it’s good enough where it is – but it can be better, and why shouldn’t it be? Why shouldn’t it be ALLOWED to become even better as we go? I know they spend a lot of it on bullshit like Viagra and baldness cures, but that’s because there’s a demand for these things, and it isn’t stopping anyone from seeking better treatments for cancer. If they make more money on Viagra and baldness, they can also spend more on lupus and fibromyalgia, can’t they? So why not? Supply and demand WORKS. And pray tell, if doctors are not going to be earning more money than anyone else, or are going to be taxed so heavily that they are just not allowed to make a profit, who is going to spend all that time and money to BECOME one? It’s like that ridiculous comment Obama made that capping salaries in an industry will draw MORE and BETTER people INTO that industry…WTF? Does that even make sense to anyone? So not only does progress stop, we give no one any incentive to dedicate their lives, and so much time and work, into even providing the service. Fewer doctors, not more.

Also, and I think I’m winding down here, the fact is that because supply and demand works so well, and because profits in fact do many good things for many people, for the common good, the market is self-adjusting, IF it’s left alone. So let me veer off into economics, though keep in mind that this applies to medicine just as it does to everything else. Because yes, it IS a business – the supplies, the service – that’s what it is. (People who think it isn’t, don’t bother telling me because I can not comprehend your thinking there; I think I’ve already illustrated why it is in fact a business, an industry.)

Let me compare this with breastfeeding for a moment because it’s a perfect analogy. When a baby is new it will nurse quite frequently, if he’s allowed to do so at will. The breasts, feeling the demand of the suckling by the infant, begin to produce a steady milk supply. If the baby goes through a growth spurt and requires more for a week or two, the breasts quickly adjust to the growing demand and produce even more. When the baby slows down and stops making the same demand on the breasts, in a day or two (though it’s a bit painful for that day or two) produce that much less. It adjusts quite naturally; and any nursing mom knows that if she wants to have some to save or to donate to a milk bank, she has to place additional demand on that breast by pumping when the baby isn’t eating. When the baby weans gradually, the milk dries up and you don’t produce it anymore. Another resource – solid food and other drinks – has taken its place, it isn’t being demanded anymore, so no more is made.

Basically, the body reacts like this: if a breast feels “full” for too long, it sends a signal to the factory that it’s making too much and tells it “too much – make less!” If a lactating breast is suckled and is consistently empty, it sends a message to the factory, “not enough – make more!” Aside: this is why I get so angry when people get bad nursing advice from ignorant doctors, though this is less common now. Basically, breast milk spends 1 1/2 hours in a new baby’s stomach to be processed – so at first you feel like you’re doing it constantly. But if the baby is allowed to continue to demand it, and everything is working properly, the breast will start to produce a much fuller supply; it all ends up being self-regulating. Yet I have witnessed famous pediatricians tell a new mother, whose baby was nursing every two hours (which is pretty good – it can be a lot more often, believe me) that she should cut it DOWN to once every three hours, because she should let the breast become “full” first so that the baby would have more there to drink. Um – if you have read this far, you know what that means, right? It means that her breasts, feeling “full”, would send a signal to her factory saying “too much – make less!” If she took his advice, I can guarantee you that woman was formula-feeding within weeks. If that. This is the whole problem with the practice of “scheduling” – it’s all right to schedule a baby who is drinking formula, to a degree. But if you distort this bodily process with a false schedule, your factory has no way of knowing how much to make and when – this is one reason why about 77% of mothers nurse for the first week or two and then stop – you can’t schedule, or regulate a self-regulating system. It is a *distortion* of the natural process of supply and demand. Now apply this reality to the market.

If there are 10 million prices and the people involved in each industry allow the demand to set the price, then adjust their production of each thing based on the demand for it (which is what happens when they are left alone to do it) then production of some things will go down and others will go up. How in bloody hell can a bureaucracy, from above, attempt to regulate such a system beyond the very obvious things like protecting people’s property rights? (That is, the right to make, own, earn and produce, along with the enforcement of contracts and the protection of them from bodily encroachment.) Every single distortion of this type screws with the natural, self-regulating process of the market. A bureaucracy can not POSSIBLY hope to try to direct the methods in which people ought to employ their capital or their production – it can only cause shortages in one place and overages in another place. We used to use whale oil in this country. When it became too expensive, people couldn’t afford it and it became obsolete, so we started with kerosene. This all happened without the government *telling* people to stop using it or making it – the prices did that. The supply and demand did that. This is why oil isn’t going to “run out” anytime soon – when it gets too expensive, as it did a year + ago, people stopped using so much of it. No one had to force them to do that – they started walking more when they didn’t need to drive, etc. Prices did what? They fell.

Anyway, whether it’s medicine or groceries or any product or service in the world, it’s not supply and demand that has caused problems – it’s distortions in supply and demand by *regulation*. I, for one, do not want to put my health care in the hands of a faceless bureaucracy that, for all its facelessness, can still put me in jail and use deadly force against me. It’s bad enough that so much of the money I work for is taken by this same faceless bureaucracy at the point of a gun – and yes, it is at the point of a gun – they put you in jail for not paying that money, don’t they? That’s force. It should only be used extremely sparingly and for the purposes of protecting people from harm and fraud. This is what the founding fathers fought and died for, and while I know we’re not going to get back there in my lifetime, I’ll be damned if I will allow it to KEEP going further and further in that direction without a fight. This giant isn’t sleeping.

Ok, if you aren’t asleep by now and have actually read this monstrous comment, and if it made any sense at all, please please do have a look at this essay, which explains it all in a charming and entertaining way. It’s Leonard Reed’s classic, I, Pencil. Please skip the foreward by Milton Friedman until after reading the actual essay, ok? It kind of ruins it if you haven’t read it before.

P.S. Did you know that if the AIG bonuses were split evenly among the population of this country we would each get 43 cents? Hehe. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Too Fat To Work – Send Money

There follows, in this article, after the picture, a bunch of names and weights, reducing these people to numbers and letters. Nevermind that. There follows a description of the horrid fatty foods they are forced to eat because they don’t know and can’t afford any better. Let me tell you, “Bacon Butties” sounds good, and I would eat them without a second thought if I knew what they were and if they were as awesome as they sound. Or maybe they suck and home-pan-fried bacon is better – and I’ll eat that, too, if I want. (I ate 4 slices the other day and they were positively wonderful!) They tell us how many calories these people eat in a day, as though it’s relevant to anything. (3000, if you were wondering.) But…this entire article is a bilious and ludicrous mish-mosh of nonsense. They eat this, they wish they could eat that, but really it’s genetic, and the bottom line is they deserve more free* money. What in the hell kind of message is that? It doesn’t even make internal sense. They want more money for being fat and not working but they want to avoid street harassment for their weight by eating vegetables and fruits which they can’t afford because of us greedy fucks and if only they could they could lose weight and not be harassed and then they could work and not be harassed but it’s all really genetic. Go ahead, read it, see if it makes more sense than that.

Look, I want to support the cause of people who are fat and deserve the same rights as everyone else – ALL the rights AND RESPONSIBILITIES of everyone else. I will not judge you for being fat. But let me tell you something, I work with people who are easily TWICE the size of these people in the picture, who make, frankly, a fuck of a lot more money than I do. Who make, in fact, what I only dream about. They get a tad annoyed when they get deeper taxes taken out of their paychecks to pay free* money to people who just don’t WANT to work. Sometimes, if you are fat, I understand that you can’t do ALL the jobs anyone else can do. You might have to drive a hi-lo or sit at a desk and do shipping paperwork, you know? But why not do SOMETHING? Now if you, as I do, have real concerns like asthma, you have to find work that understands this and allows you to sit. Like in a hi-lo. Or behind a desk. You have a MIND don’t you? You can’t do ANYTHING? ALL you can do is leech off the rest of us, who are EVERY BIT AS FAT but have to EARN our daily bread?

EDIT: I dashed this off in a hurry, and re-reading it I don’t think I was careful enough to add disclaimers, and frankly that was careless of me. While I don’t believe in confiscatory tax dollars to be spent on programs that aren’t in the legitimate scope of the government, of *course* I know that A) some people really need help and in a civilized society there can and should be many types of voluntary charitable organizations and options to provide that help. Not everyone can work a wage job or farm the land and there are many genuine needs. There is no reason for people to starve in the streets and I know that people are generous enough to not want that (apart from a few objectivists who wouldn’t mind that very much and B) Reporters, and especially this one, are often jerks and this thing was so full of weird spin I didn’t know where to begin.

Biggest Losers?

My supervisor casually mentioned the other day that there was a “Biggest Loser” contest, and I had no idea what she meant at first. Then I realized – the company is having a diet competition. Well I simply said “Oh, I wouldn’t be interested in that,” which she already knows very well. She tried to interest me by saying the prize was $500. Well, thanks – I know she is concerned about my finances, and I appreciate it. But that is not the answer. Then I asked if she was interested, maybe that’s why she mentioned it. She expressed some annoyance that since we’re some of the only people on our shift, she wouldn’t have anyone to do it with so she wasn’t going to. At least I think that was the implication. Later, in a separate incident, a young man who I also work closely with came out with a jelly donut, and I knew the day guy had come back with a dozen really good gourmet donuts, and it looked plump and wonderful. I wasn’t hungry but I never get donuts, so I said “T, go get me one of those, please!” For some reason he decided to get fresh with me and told me to go get it myself. I playfully argued back that I had ordered his dinner for him and brought him things that he never ate, and he argued back all the things he does for me, and finally I trumped him. I pointed at him and said, “Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a fat woman asking for a donut?”Well my supervisor was shocked into a brief laugh – for some reason I guess no one expects you to say something like that. But it’s sort of true – once in a while you just don’t feel like asking a man for a donut, you know? If they were set out in my office, yeah, but it’s in the next room. Well, he countered that he didn’t know what it was like to be a fat woman but he did know what it was like to be a fat man and a fat kid, etc. Which was fair, so I said “Ok, I don’t care; I’m not ashamed to go get a damn donut.” He was actually happy – I think HE was embarrassed and he admiringly said, “See, I knew you don’t care what nobody says.” So he might have needed some inspiration too. I went, but there were no jelly left, so punchline is I never got the donut. But the actual point is she – my supervisor – only mentions being fat in hushed tones and I think it was kind of shocking, even though I’ve been really clear on this, that I really am not embarrassed about myself. That I don’t mind bringing up my size because it’s really obvious and people need to stop being so obsessed with it anyway.

So what does this all have to do with the picture? I was looking up a picture to go with “Biggest Loser” and came across this story. Featuring that woman. My first thought was “I love the blouse” and second was “she’s in this topic because she’s fat and fat people are in topics because they’re on a diet.” Ok that wasn’t precisely my second thought but I’m not telling you exactly what it was, so there.

But it was sadly exactly true. There are some really sad things in there. She’s on a show they call “The Biggest Loser” which is a really wonderful, not shitty name at all. Or concept. I think the losers are the people who make the show. She’s a size 27 (and she finds gorgeous clothes in that size, even if I wouldn’t wear a revealing blouse like that ’cause I’m shy that way and much older than her). She’s on this humiliating crash diet to fit into her wedding dress. They talk to her fiance.

Whereas nutritionists and community health experts have blasted The Biggest Loser boot camp as a humiliating exercise that sets up the contestants for failure and depression, Geoff shrugs and says: “I don’t want to say this is her last chance . . . but it’s probably her best chance.”

Nutritionists and health experts acknowledge that this thing is a disaster for human beings. Humiliating, depressing, and ultimately doomed. And this man who loves this woman can only shrug and say it’s her best chance? At what? Depression, failure and humiliation? Why? Do you love her?

Geoff…knows that Cat has by now lost a chunk of weight.

“Even the contestants who get thrown off in the first week lose weight,” he says.

So what? She is a size 27. If dieting worked as is claimed, it would take 80 weeks at least for her to get down to maybe 150 pounds. In one week, what can you possibly lose that matters unless you are two pounds ‘overweight’? It would probably take a year before the weight loss was noticeable, and that’s making the false assumption that dieting works like it’s supposed to.

He’s not praying for a hard-bellied babe. All he wants is for Cat to slim to the point where she can safely have a baby and live a long and healthy life. “I don’t want to lose her,” he says.

Who has told her or him that she can’t “safely” have a baby or live a long healthy life? She doesn’t look sick – just fat. Maybe she is, but sick people can’t participate in grueling self-torture exercises for television, so I doubt it. She might be sick afterwards, though. Or after she yo-yos around a while because everyone is telling her she can’t be fat and have a life. Someone please take this young man and shake him for me!

Then her twin sister gets in the act, and this makes me angry. The fiance is bad enough, but this is worse.

Says Melissa: “They get us to stand side by side and go, ‘Oh yeah, you’ve got the same eyes.’ I want my twin back.”

Melissa says the family has tried staging interventions without success. “There were times when we’d all be together and decide it was time to talk about Cat’s weight, but she wouldn’t be in it and the discussions always turned heated,” she says.

“She just wasn’t ready . . . it was like she wasn’t seeing how big she was. At the same time, there are four girls in the family and she’s the only one without a baby . . . and that hurts her.”

You want your twin back to reflect you and your self-image. You have your twin, but she needs to look different. Maybe you’re afraid you will end up looking like her because of genetics. You would stage interventions for her with your family? How cruel can you possibly be? Nowhere – please note that nowhere – is it suggested that she is stuffing herself full of deadly toxins (or, food). No one has mentioned her habits at all, just the fact that she is big. And in denial or something. (Why does she have to shrink to make you happy? Why don’t you accept her as she is?) It is just implied that since she is fat, she must be gorging herself to the busting point every single day year after year. But no one has said anything like that. They have said she’s big, she doesn’t fit a dress, she didn’t respond to family gangpiling, she makes her twin insecure and she doesn’t have a baby, but not that she is playing Nintendo all day and stuffing garbage bags of Doritos down her throat. So why do they think that eating is the problem, therefore not eating will solve it? Where is that logic from?

Also, why does her sister point out her not having a baby as anything to do with her being fat? She is engaged to be married. She is clearly not having a problem getting a man because of her fat. She is not married yet, therefore perhaps she is sad that she hasn’t gotten to this stage, but would like to do it in that order? Get married and then have a baby? What does any of that have to do with being fat? It is not suggested that she was trying to get pregnant before her wedding – in fact, I highly doubt it since she is trying to lose weight to fit in a wedding dress, not get a pregnant belly.

Saddest of all is that it seems clear she was resisting others’ bullying efforts to get her to conform to their ideas, even though if they bothered to learn they would know how tortuous diets are, and how futile in the long run. How, in fact, dangerous they are to one’s health. But instead of learning, they ran with the “common knowledge” and pressured her for years until she finally caved in and is subjecting herself to a brutal starvation diet and punishing exercise regimen as well as public humiliation. I can’t finish it. If there’s anything worse on the second page, maybe I don’t want to know.

To Go With The NuVal System

Building on BL’s NuVal post below, meet the Carbon Diet Calculator! (If you think carbon dioxide is a pollutant, I guess.) Now you can add yet another level of calculation to your food – in addition to calories, transfats, NuVal numbers, fats, sugars – and you can hopefully construct a supercomputer to work out the logistics of just what you’re still allowed to eat!

Click and drag your food choices into the frying pan and watch the earth turn red and die!

Son of Porkulus

The news contained in this post is so horrifying that I’m going to put up some extremely cute pictures along with the text to try to offset the mounting terror.


The bizarrely massive porkulus bill that just passed the senate, has had some interesting little hidden things in it. And by “interesting” I mean “horrific” and by “little” I mean “enormous”.

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Look back at the doggie!


So never mind that I pay to go to a PRIVATE doctor, whom I expect to keep my fucking business to HIMSELF – now he will have to report my every visit, my every prescription, to the feds? THE FEDS? (I dare say some doctors are going to go rogue on this one – this is an outrage beyond most outrages I’ve ever read of – they NEED to step up and say “NO, we will NOT do this.” A database? A fucking FEDERAL database? You weren’t worried about stupid little things like your privacy, were you? Your autonomy? Your liberty? You can kiss those things goodbye, pal. They were never yours.


Now my doctor weighed me once, the first time I visited him; and has never mentioned my weight to me, or asked me to get on the scale. He is more concerned about things like my asthma and my stress levels. But God forbid he asks me now – the feds will most certainly tell him that I must lose weight and if I don’t I’ll be non-compliant…that won’t help them save money, right? Never mind that IT’S MY FUCKING MONEY I’m spending to get PRIVATE treatment from my PRIVATE PERSONAL doctor.


This is so far beyond a travesty that I’m getting speechless. I could go on about it for weeks, months, and never hit the end, and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Well, frankly I’ve been hearing a lot of people screaming about socialist health care and how we need it. All it costs you is your privacy and your liberty and your autonomy. And MINE TOO. Thanks a fucking lot. All I ever asked is to be left OUT of these plans and to be allowed to live my life – because, you know, the constitution says I have that right. Form all the little socialist societies you want and all the voluntary plans you want, but leave me out of it. Now these people have thrown out *everyone’s* autonomy for them. Nice job. Those of you who wanted it – hope you enjoy it as much as I will. TANSTAAFL, but no one knows this anymore. Pfft. Here’s a pretty good rant on it; most of which I would have said myself. Enjoy. 🙂

UPDATE: Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)
What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Even before socialized medicine inevitably degenerates into mandatory euthanasia à la Logan’s Run, the elderly will be hit hard.

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.

It just gets better and better.