Friday, November 30, 2007

Who says that we are fat?

The Times reports that the rate of growth in obesity in America seems to have peaked. Apparently the rate of obesity had been accelerating over the last 25 years.

So, why bring it up, since I seem to be attracted to gravity at an increasing rate every year? Think about the last 25 years and diet recommendations. We have spent a significant portion of our GDP on diet aids, weight loss gimmicks, gyms, personal trainers, etc. but have nothing to show for it.

My thinking on the matter is that our weight problems accelerated from the 1970s when lawyers who were staffers for Sen. McGovern originally designed the food pyramid. Some may remember it as the pyramid which divided up the various food groups in a size relation to what you were supposed to eat. Notice that it was done by lawyers. I am sure that it is perfectly logical, but it doesn't seem to have done a darned thing but increase the rate of weight gain.

This is symptomatic of so many things that the government does. War on Drugs? It really isn't that hard to find whatever drug you wanted. War on poverty? Still haven't changed the numbers that much. In fact, the only thing that I can think that the government has done well is the Rural Electrification Act. But measure the successes of the government versus doing it completely balls ass backward, and tell me why anyone thinks that it would be a good idea for them to run health care.


Mark T said...

These sectors of our health care system are working quite well: Medicare, VA, Medicaid, and those fortunate to have adequate private insurance. 47 Million are uninsured, millions more are underinsured because the system cannot insure them - they either cannot afford the insurance, or they are too likely to get sick and need the care.

Some system. Yes, your private sector is serving us well. Don't see any reason for change.

Government does many things quite well - roads and libraries and schools and military and dams - any big project that serves all of us needs government. The private sector can only deal with those areas where it can stratify service, giving the best to a select few, and chicken scratch to the bottom. If we had a system of roads run by the private sector, a wealthy few would be riding on low-traffic pavement, while those at the bottom would have dirt paths. It can be no other way.

Markets are an engine that can serve us well, but left alone they generally overheat and crash and burn. They need to be regulated. And they are not a panacea. They generally deliver extremes of wealth and poverty - opulence for the few at the top, deprivation for those below. The best system is a mixture of government for large products we all need, and markets for the rest. Health care falls in the former category. The market can't handle it.

Steve said...

Mark - First, I don't think that you have actually had any experience with Medicare, VA or Medicaid. If you did, you would realize that they are some perfect examples of what happens when the government gets involved in health care. I was listening to NPR one morning talking to doctors who were going to drop out of the Medicare/Medicaid business because the rate of payment, after discounting for overhead left the doctors with less than minimum wage.
As to the 47 million uninsured, the majority of them seem to opt out of health insurance. A prime example was my daughter's sister in law who is a very successful realtor, drives an Escalade and has gold just dripping off of her. When her daughter broke her foot while using her "Heelies" she let us know that she does not have health insurance. Seems hard to feel sorry for her, doesn't it?
Even using the 47 million, that is only 15% of the country. So, if the system works for 85%, we should destroy it to cover people like the mother above? Doesn't make sense to me.
I will agree that there are some things that the government does well that you listed: roads, libraries, shcools, military, although Dave has disagreed with me on roads before on this point. I would argue that the list that you provided could best be summarized as government should do what the private sector cannot efficiently do and it should provide the necessary tools to function as a part of the nation. Although, I guess that schools should not be on that list since they seem to be less than effective compared to private schools or for that matter home schooling.
But if you notice, the REA and highway system were done more than 50 years ago. What has the government done well lately?
As to the comment that markets need to be regulated, I disagree. Why would a rational business want to cut itself off from a market? Or if they did, why wouldn't another business come in to fill the void.