Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Something for the President & House Leader Boehner To Discuss During A Smoke Break

Statistical probability being what it is, I suspect the percentage of Tea Party supporters who are “obese” is similar to the average nationwide, 34%, although being “angry” can burn off a lot of pounds. That’s more than 1 in every 3 adults and a new projection estimates obesity among Americans will ultimately include more than 4 out of every 10 before it tops out.

Clearly obese Americans (34%) outnumber by far those who support the Tea Party movement (26%.) This is serious not just because the condition robs these people of quality of life but life itself. Obese Americans already account for 17% of all U.S. medical costs or $168 billion annually. Similar to street “gangs,” there is also evidence it is fueled and/or enabled within social networks. One in five pre-adults already has the condition and as obese Americans age, they will consume an ever increasing share of healthcare costs.

Obesity is definitely not a concoction by what conservative columnist George Will would see as problems exaggerated by “interest-group liberalism, leavened by big-idea liberalism” trying to tell other people how to live their lives. Obesity is a medical definition of when people, for a variety of reasons, go beyond being just overweight for their age and height, which is serious enough, and reach body fat accumulation of 30% and more, dramatically increasing the likelihood of diabetes, coronary problems and other expensive diseases as well as burning out ankle, knee and shoulder joints.

I don’t happen to be overweight or obese but problems with weight are not uncommon on both sides of my family. But while there may be some truth to what Mr. Will writes, the answer is not the finger-wagging “shoulds” of “bury-your-head-in-the-sand ultra conservatives” waiting somehow for “personal responsibility” to be a solution to every problem. We all have somewhere inside us the petulance of a “you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do 5 year-old.” For me, healthcare insurance reform is all about controlling costs and collectively protecting each of us from the costly healthcare decisions or dilemmas of others.

I don’t want to stand-around arguing that people “should” have different genes or “should” make different lifestyle decisions or “should” take personal responsibility or “shouldn’t” substitute taking tax funded ambulances to emergency rooms which they use as their doctor’s office while the costs of healthcare bankrupt federal and state budgets.

For me, having everyone carry healthcare insurance (a great idea incubated by a conservative Governor by the way) is a small freedom to relinquish in exchange for protection of my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not to mention peace of mind from the most inclusive, efficient and effective healthcare possible.

Mr. Will might be right in saying that people voted for President Obama in part as a vote against conservative president George W. Bush. So what? I want to know what Will and others propose to protect “my” healthcare from the obvious catastrophe if the new healthcare legislation is somehow repealed rather than improved.

So to borrow from Mr. Will - Dear Conservatives, please take note, WHAT IS YOUR PLAN? Doing nothing and whining that no one can tell you how to live your life while squandering $65 billion alone just to demonize Nancy Pelosi is no substitute for leadership and it won’t resolve the inherent crisis in healthcare. As my departed and very conservative father would say, “it’s time to pull your head out of your butt.”

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