Dollars & Sense of Healthcare, Defense & National Security

Strange bedfellows indeed—but then healthcare affects everything. 

Just a few days ago, my blog consisted of a letter to David Brooks (New York Times) about the cost of healthcare and the inability of Congress to make one single hard decision during the fiscal cliff episode. It turns out that the cost of healthcare was the primary reason why Congress has been unable to establish a sustainable budget for the past twenty years.

Chuck Hagel must fight the "health care monster" for money to run the DOD.

Chuck Hagel must fight the “health care monster” for money to run the DOD.

Now, Mr. Brooks has written another column wherein healthcare is once again center-stage. In his latest article, Why Hagel Was Picked (see link below), he essentially says that Hagel was picked because of his philosophies on running a leaner and meaner military—because we simply must save money somewhere. From the article:

Americans don’t particularly like government, but they do want government to subsidize their health care. They believe that health care spending improves their lives more than any other public good. In a Quinnipiac poll, typical of many others, Americans opposed any cuts to Medicare by a margin of 70 percent to 25 percent.

In a democracy, voters get what they want, so the line tracing federal health care spending looks like the slope of a jet taking off from LaGuardia. Medicare spending is set to nearly double over the next decade. This is the crucial element driving all federal spending over the next few decades and pushing federal debt to about 250 percent of G.D.P. in 30 years.

Take a real hard look at this chart (% of GDP)

I found it on Wikipedia; it shows that sometime between 2030 and 2040, mandatory government spending (Medicare, Medicaid & SS) will exceed government revenue. That means we would then have NO defense spending. Our only hope is to get real serious about reducing the cost of healthcare. If we don’t we will BANKRUPT our nation. Yet none of our prominent leaders, journalists, physicians or academics are even talking about it.

Entitlement spending

So, it turns out that healthcare is squeezing out all other spending, which Americans value far less. And the latest victim is the Department of Defense. During the past fifty years, while healthcare costs have been soaring as a percent of GDP, our military spending has been declining. As Brooks says:

As the federal government becomes a health care state, there will have to be a generation of defense cuts that overwhelm anything in recent history.

So President Obama has picked a Defense Secretary and a CIA director who agree with him about the need for a less-expensive military strategy. And as Brooks says, “Chuck Hagel has been nominated to supervise the beginning of this generation-long process of defense cutbacks. If a Democratic president is going to slash defense, he probably wants a Republican at the Pentagon to give him political cover, and he probably wants a decorated war hero to boot.”

Our defense spending has been trending downward for 30 years, but it's getting ready to go much lower.

Our defense spending (as % of GDP) has been trending downward for 50 years, but it’s getting ready to go much lower.

Currently our Defense spending is scheduled to go from 4.3 % of GDP to 3% according to the Congressional Budget office. As Brooks, says, we’re moving in the same direction as Europe and our military might will suffer as a result.

As late as the 1990s, Europeans were still spending 2.5 percent of G.D.P. on defense. Now that spending is closer to 1.5 percent, and, amid European malaise, it is bound to sink further,

How, in short, will Hagel supervise the beginning of America’s military decline? If members of Congress don’t want America to decline militarily, well, they have no one to blame but the voters and themselves.

The U.S. government spends close to one trillion a year on health care, far more than we spend on our armed forces.

The U.S. government spends close to one trillion a year on health care. This monster is the gorilla in the room when it comes to all federal spending.

The Bottom Line. We, the citizens of the United States, are being held hostage by our runaway cost of healthcare—something that almost everyone feels we must have have. And that “health care monster” is making it impossible for us to address many of our most urgent problems as a nation.

So does our decline as a military power qualify as an urgent problem? Yes, an urgent problem that could be solved if we executed the blinding flash of the obvious solution to saving money. Simply start eating the right food. To borrow a few paragraphs from my recent blog addressed to Mr. Brooks:

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?

Eat the right food (whole plants) and your weight will take care of itself.

The simple answer to our nation’s countless budget (and national security) problems.

What is that solution? All we need to do is to start eating the right food for our species. It’s as simple as two words: Whole Plants. The staggering global benefits of that simple step goes far beyond our cost of health care in the United States—and our military power as a nation. What we’re talking about here is the longterm sustainability of the human race. What could be more important than that?

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

Consecutive daily blogs

Consecutive daily blogs

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Blogging daily at…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.
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4 Responses to Dollars & Sense of Healthcare, Defense & National Security

  1. Granted – without question – our for profit USA Sickness Care System needs an overhaul. A good first move would be to call things by their right names. Ignoring lessons from other developed nations, we continue our race to the bottom. Newcomers to this area of inquiry could start by viewing PBS Front Line “Sick Around The World” special on line. The DVD is in most libraries.

    Simplify as much as possible – but no further. Let’s not blame “Entitlements” while giving our Orwellian so-called “Defense” sector a pass. “Social spending is ruining us” claim merits more attention. See Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz’s recent updates to his “Three Trillion Dollar War” book. He now maintains that it’s more like six trillion dollars.. Even with inflation that’s a lot.

    “.We have, so far, sunk $640 billion into Afghanistan and more than $800 billion into Iraq — all told, according to my calculation, more than $12,000 per American household. Imagine if those sums had been spent on, say, early childhood education in America. Or on getting more kids through college. Or on global education: About 1 percent of the total sunk in Iraq and Afghanistan, if instead spent annually on schooling around the world, would allow every child worldwide to complete primary school, ending global illiteracy” Nicholas Kristof – 9 January 2013 – N.Y. Times

    Will Social Security and Medicare be sustainable and better through progressive changes,?

    • Gerhardt — here is the link to that 2008 Frontline 56 min. video:
      While I am here — here are links to the uselessness of the flu vaccines:
      Dr Pam Popper: Protein & Insulin Production; Flu Vaccine for Kids =

      • Spreading the word on Pam Popper is always a good idea. One “Guru” leads to another in a search for truth. I’ve just returned from the Cleveland Clinic and was intrigued by seeing so many of their staff with face masks. “Why the mask?”, I ask. i learned that current Cleveland Clinic protocol required that those who opted out of taking flu shots were asked to wear face masks.

        Some may wonder why i may only cite search phrases and not respective URLs of sources. While it may not matter here, some forums, don’t publish URLS – but accept plain word search phrases.
        “Sick around the World” will always lead to something relevant in the issue referenced. In ANY forum, Citing ”” is just fine in THIS forum in postings.

        Stay tuned for what I am doing with “Eating in America, Dietary Goals for the United States, The Original and Complete Report of the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, U.S. Senate – Foreward by Senator George McGovern” – a truly great American – in war and in Peace.

        The goal is to get the above public domain document posted in both PDF and in a text format that works well with in searching. (Library of Congress catalog card number 77-73812). I’m not much into conspiracy theories but it appears that certain forces worked overtime in suppressing report.

        Telling the truth often has unintended consequences. Ask any whistle-blower for details.


  2. Linda says:

    Will a blog post “addressed to” David Brooks actually reach him?? Seems to me he’d be far more likely to see/read a letter sent to him directly.

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