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.
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.
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.”
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 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?
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?
- Source article. Why Hagel Was Picked – NYTimes.com
- Earlier blog re Brooks. A host of unsustainable issues—One common solution
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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