A host of unsustainable issues—One common solution

In search of a few powerful, “BIG PICTURE” journalists

David Brooks of the New York Times

David Brooks of the New York Times

In the past few days, I ran across three separate articles in the New York Times—written by three different journalists: David Brooks, Reed Abelson and Elisabeth Rosenthal. (Links to all 3 articles provided below)

All three articles focused on out-of-control, unsustainable situations. None of them mentioned the common solution. While I originally planned to write a separate blog about each of the articles, I decided yesterday to combine them into one “big picture” blog.

I then decided to structure that blog in the form of an appeal for prominent journalists with international recognition to begin writing consistently about the “big picture” that I write about every day. And I addressed my appeal to the best-known of the three journalists that I mentioned—David Brooks.

Dear Mr. Brooks,

On this first Monday of 2013, I am writing to ask for you to consider leveraging your international influence to educate the entire world about the blinding flash of the obvious solution to the most urgent set of problems in the entire history of the human race. The idea for this letter came to me after reading your “Fiscal Flop” column and other recent New York Times articles by two of your colleagues.

I am addressing this letter to you instead of them, because I have been reading your column for many years and perceive that you have a greater ability to influence “outside-the-box” thinking than the other two. I sincerely believe that you are among a very small group of journalists who have a greater ability to influence thinking than any Congress-person or state governor. People all over the world respect what you have to say—because what you say usually makes a lot of sense.

In your recent “Fiscal Flop” column, you described a completely unsustainable situation and chided the House and Senate for not making one single hard decision as they narrowly missed falling over the fiscal cliff. From the clarity of your column, it is painfully obvious that our current fiscal situation is grossly unsustainable—and my conclusion is that the problem is not going to be solved in Congress. In your column, you did an excellent job of describing the futility of our situation—and the unsustainability of the way we’re spending money—particularly on health care. From your article:

The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money. Many voters have decided they like spending a lot on themselves and pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren. They have decided they like borrowing up to $1 trillion a year for tax credits, disability payments, defense contracts and the rest. They have found that the original Keynesian rationale for these deficits provides a perfect cover for permanent deficit-living.

The problem, sir, is that you have not proposed a workable solution to our spending problems. What if I were to tell you that the U.S. government could save over one trillion dollars per year on health care—by simply teaching everyone EXACTLY what we should be eating to promote health? What kind of impact would that have on our deficit spending? Can you think of anything that would have a greater impact?

I mentioned two other articles. One was about the cost of health insurance and the other about the food prices and widespread hunger in Guatemala. And guess what? By fixing our health problem, we conveniently solve these other two problems (and many more) at the same time. For your convenience, here is a brief quote from each article:

Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits by Reed Abelson

Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’shealth care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers….Some consumer advocates say the continued double-digit increases are a sign that the insurance industry needs to operate under new rules. Often, rates soar because insurers are operating plans that are closed to new customers, creating a pool of people with expensive medical conditions that become increasingly costly to insure.

As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs by Elisabeth Rosenthal

GUATEMALA CITY — In the tiny tortillerias of this city, people complain ceaselessly about the high price of corn. Just three years ago, one quetzal — about 15 cents — bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed…In a globalized world, the expansion of the biofuels industry has contributed to spikes in food prices and a shortage of land for food-based agriculture in poor corners of Asia, Africa and Latin America because the raw material is grown wherever it is cheapest.

Our wasteful western diet is the number one driver of world hunger.

Our wasteful western diet is the number one driver of world hunger.

Mr. Brooks, you stated in your column that, “No coalition of leaders has successfully confronted the voters, and made them heedful of the ruin they are bringing upon the nation.”

I might say the same for a similar coalition of journalists. Why have the world’s most influential thinkers failed us when it comes to the blinding flash of the obvious solution to our most urgent problems?

What is that solution? All we need to do is to start eating the right food for our species. The staggering global benefits of that simple step goes far beyond our cost of health care in the United States. What we’re talking about here is the longterm sustainability of the human race. What could be more important than that?

J. Morris Hicks, the "big picture" guy when it comes to what we should be eating...for our own health and so much more

J. Morris Hicks, the “big picture” guy

One final question: Why is there not a single prominent journalist writing consistently about this incredibly urgent situation—and its astoundingly simple solution? Your colleague, Mark Bittman, has the knowledge but lacks the necessary urgency or consistency in sharing that knowledge—before it’s too late. He recommends “patience” as we rocket toward global ruin at 200 mph. Maybe the two of you could work together to come up with a game plan. Please know that I would love to help you in that endeavor.

Sincerely, J. Morris Hicks (917-399-9700; jmorrishicks@me.com)

PS: Here are links to the reference articles for your convenience. Also, I have provided a few earlier blogs describing why most of the world’s greatest thinkers are missing the boat when it comes to this topic.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Consecutive daily blogs

Consecutive daily blogs

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Activism & Leadership, Big Picture, Cost of Health Care. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A host of unsustainable issues—One common solution

  1. Joanne Irwin says:

    Nothing ventured; nothing gained. One of these days someone with the influence of Brooks, Clinton, et al will be knocking on your door, and then you and all of us will be listening to the warning bells ringing across our land. Paul Revere, we know you’re out there. Wake up! Get riding!

  2. MikeR says:

    Nice blog, except that you never say what food our species should be eating, and therein lies the problem. I’m afraid no busy journalist is going to pay attention to you unless you tell them up front what it is we should be eating and then back it up with supporting evidence, and even then, David Brooks or his colleagues might ignore you. Did you include a copy of your book? Have you sent it to Mark Bittman? I really do wish you all the best in you endeavor. I also think you should form a sort of coalition with others such as Michelle Simon and John Robbins. And Philip Wollen of the Kindness Trust in Melbourne, Australia. As long as people think an egg for breakfast or a grilled chicken breast is healthy, they’ll continue to eat them, and too many dietitians tell people that as long as they eat chicken or eggs in moderation, they’re fine. As Dr. Esselstyn says, :”Moderation kills.”

  3. Sal Liggieri says:


    Have you ever considered creating a reader’s forum or discussion board in your blog such as those for McDougall and Fuhrman? At least we would listen to ourselves, apparently the “big thinkers” aren’t listening to anyone other than themselves.

    • J. Morris Hicks says:

      Hi Sal, perhaps I should look into establishing a readers discussion forum as you suggest. You’re so right about those “big thinkers” out there. I am amazed that NONE of them ever mentions the “big picture” when it comes to the staggering consequences of our food choices—ranging from certain disaster to remarkably wonderful. The choice is ours, but the masses aren’t being told about it. I just sent this following note to David Brooks’ email at the New York Times. I will let you know if I hear back.

      Hi David,

      I am the author of “Healthy Eating, Healthy World” and am a member of the T. Colin Campbell Foundation board of directors. My book has been endorsed by ALL three of the experts who influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a disease-reversing way of eating: Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of The Cleveland Clinic and Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell.

      You were featured today in my 702nd consecutive daily blogpost. In fact, the blog is in the form of a letter to you. Please take a look and give me a call if you have any questions. FYI, I am one of your fans. 917-399-9700

      Best regards, J. Morris Hicks (Jim)

  4. Kathy Roach says:

    Bravo! Hopefully, David Brooks can give this subject a larger voice on Capitol Hill.

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