Smoking Marijuana may give you Lung Cancer, Heart Disease and Diabetes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

It’s no secret.  You get the munchies after smoking marijuana.  Whether it’s recreational smoking.  Or medical smoking.  Apparently (see Girl Scout sells 117 boxes of cookies outside Green Cross medical marijuana clinic by Heather Saul posted 2/22/2014 on The Independent).

A girl scout has proved it really is “all about location” after selling 117 boxes of cookies from her stand outside The Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary in just two hours.

Thirteen-year-old Danielle Lei set up her cookie stall outside of the clinic in San Francisco and was welcomed by patients and staff.

Danielle sold out of her first batch within 45 minutes, according to the clinic, which is a fully licensed dispensary serving qualified California patients.

The left wants to tax sugary beverages.  They want to take away McDonald’s Happy Meals from our children.  And Michelle Obama wants our kids to eat rabbit food in school because our kids are too fat.  As childhood obesity leads to chronic and costly health problems later in life.  Then there’s the crusade against smoking.  Which they have banned from pretty much everywhere.  As first-hand smoke, second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke will kill you.  For just the whiff of tobacco odor will give you lung cancer.  Yes, the left is very concerned about what we eat, drink and smoke.  Because we apparently don’t know what’s good for us. Or what’s bad.  Thankfully, they do.

Which makes their drive to decriminalize marijuana puzzling to say the least.  They say it’s harmless.  No worse than a cocktail after work each day (though there are some who will say you are an alcoholic if you have a drink every day).  But marijuana causes first-hand smoke, second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke.  Giving marijuana smokers lung cancer.  And if that wasn’t bad enough marijuana also makes people obese.  Because of the munchies.  It’s so bad that people have to buy Girl Scout cookies just after buying their medical marijuana.  Even before they gave themselves a little more lung cancer by smoking it.  And it should be noted that Girl Scout cookies aren’t rabbit food.  No.  They’re the kind of food that tastes good.  And makes our kids obese.

Lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc., are bad.  And we need to change people’s eating, drinking and smoking habits so their poor choices don’t become a burden to society.  Unless you get lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc., from smoking marijuana.  Because smoking marijuana will give you the less deadly and less costly forms of lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.  Apparently.

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Medicaid, Medicare and Frivolous Lawsuits make the Best Health Care System in the World more Expensive

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

The American left loves Canada.  In particular their single-payer health care system.  This is what they wanted in the US.  Not Obamacare.  But they settled for Obamacare.  Until they get what Canada has one day.  Because it’s better.  At least, according to a chart.  That shows how wonderful Canadian health care is and how horrible American health care is (see The U.S. Health Care System Is Terrible, In 1 Enraging Chart by Mark Gongloff posted 11/22/2013 on the Huffington Post).

Yes, among this group of big countries, the U.S. spends far and away more on health care than any other. And yet it has among the lowest life expectancies of any developed country. People live longer in pretty much every country in Europe, including Greece, where the economy has been wracked by austerity for years…

Why is our system so terrible? Largely because it is built for profit. Unlike many other countries, the government has no role in either providing care or setting prices, and so prices skyrocket. It’s also too complex, which is one reason the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature reform law, has gotten off to such a bad start.

The health care law is supposed to help with the cost problem somewhat. But it is built on the existing privatized system, which means it will probably not make a significant difference. A public option, also known as a “single payer” plan, would help. But that still seems like a pipe dream — although maybe Obamacare’s clumsy rollout will bring it closer to reality.

First of all it should be noted that Canada has one of the finest private health care networks in the world.  Outside of their single-payer system.  Which is something they share with all nations that have some form of national health care.  A private health care network for those who want and can pay for it.  And why is Canada’s private health care network the best in the world?  Perhaps you can guess why when you hear the name of it.  The Untied States health care system.  Just south of the border.

That’s right, for those with the means don’t wait in line for less than the best of health care.  They spend their own money to go to the front of the line to get the best health care available.  In the United States.  Often administered by Canadians.  Because the US pays the best doctors and nurses more than they can get in Canada.  So Canadian doctors and nurses, too, travel south across the border.

The US is one of the only countries where their poor suffer from obesity.  Because of generous food assistance programs.  Also, because we are a for-profit nation our food industry has figured out to give us more food for less.  Our beverage sizes have gotten so big giving us so much value for the money that Mayor Bloomberg tried to limit the size of beverages in New York.  And all American restaurants give us free refills.  Because they can.  While some European countries will charge extra for a package of ketchup.  All of this more food for less has led to our obesity problem.  Giving Americans heart disease and diabetes.  Shortening life expectancies.

US doctors are dropping out of Medicaid.  And Medicare.  More so now that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is rolling out.  Why?  Because the government pays for these nonprofit programs.  And they are constantly trying to reduce their reimbursements.  Because the aging population is straining the Medicaid and Medicare programs.  And the government has addressed this problem by ‘discounting’ Medicaid and Medicare billings.  For years doctors and hospitals have tried to recover these shortfalls by charging more.  Especially insurance companies.  Greatly increasing the cost of health care and health insurance.  But the discounting grew so great that many health care providers just dropped these programs.  Because they couldn’t pay their people, their lab costs, their overhead, etc.  Especially since Obamacare has taken money from Medicare.  And ‘forced’ states to expand their Medicaid rolls.  But these discounted reimbursements aren’t the only thing raising health care costs.

While most of Europe has loser-pay laws to curtail frivolous lawsuits the United States doesn’t.  Because of the trial lawyers.  Who get quite wealthy suing doctors, hospitals and pharmaceuticals.  Exploding the cost of malpractice and liability insurance.  Which increase the cost of doctors, hospitals and pharmaceuticals.  Forcing them to raise their prices to recover these costs.  Making American health care more costly.

These are the reasons why the US spends more per capita on health care than all other nations.  Because they have the best health care system in the world.  And the best costs more.  While the government forcing health care providers to work below costs (Medicare and Medicaid) and the cost of frivolous lawsuits raise these costs even more.

The American health-care system is not terrible.  Single-payer systems are.  Because they all have a private health care network.  Which they wouldn’t have if single-payer systems were the best systems.  Just ask the Canadians who use their private network.  The US health care system.  Who will probably be the second greatest losers under the Affordable Care Act.  After the Americans.

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New Zealand Immigration does not allow Fat People into their Country because of Health Care Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 27th, 2013

Week in Review

As Obamacare moves closer to full implementation the mass of personal data the government will collect on us is concerning many.  Our medical files will have everything from our Social Security numbers to comments that we may drink too much.  But what harm can come from government having a wealth of private information about us?  It’s not like anyone has ever hacked into a government computer (the Chinese).  Or a branch of government ever violated our Constitutional rights (the IRS).  So really, now, how could a government-run health care system tracking our personal data harm us (see Chef told he’s too fat to live in New Zealand posted 7/27/2013 on CBC News)?

A South African chef has been told by authorities in New Zealand that’s he’s too fat to be permitted to live in the country…

…immigration officials told him he did not have “an acceptable standard of health” and his work visa would not be renewed, Fairfax NZ News reported.

At 5’8″ tall, Albert Buitenhuis has a body mass index of more than 40, which lands him in the medically obese territory.

An immigration spokesman said all applicants with a body mass index of more than 35 are investigated.

The spokesman said the chef had been rejected because his obesity put him at “significant risk” of health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and hypertension.

He added that the department’s medical assessors have to consider to “what extent there might be indications of future high-cost and high-need demand for health services…”

New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate among developed countries, behind the United States and Mexico, according to a 2012 report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Interesting.  Obamacare may track our weight to determine how much to charge us for our Obamacare premium.  But they are doing nothing to secure our border.  Allowing God knows how many obese Mexicans into the country.  Who are as obese as we are.  And are at risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and hypertension.  Requiring more costly Obamacare resources.  So they will punish us for our obesity.  But not the Mexicans entering the country illegally.  For they are sacrosanct.  We can’t even ask them for an ID when they try to vote.  But you know that you and I will have to pay an obesity tax under Obamacare.

New Zealand has a mixed health care system.  It was once a national system.  But they have since mixed in a few private sector elements.  To control the out-of-control costs of national health care.  And because the government is footing a portion of the health care bill the government can do pretty much whatever they want when it comes to any health care issue.  In this case immigration is a health care issue.  Because immigrants are people.  And people eventually require health care.

This is the frightening part about Obamacare.  Because it lets the government punish our behavior if they choose.  Or our thoughts.  Overweight?  That’ll cost you.  Especially if you’re an enemy of the state.  Like those Tea Party groups harassed by the IRS.  Something that couldn’t happen if we kept our health care in the private sector.

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Cane Sugar, Crystallized Sugar, Sugar Trade, West Indies, Wealth and War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 7th, 2013

History 101

As Muslim displaced Christians from the Lands of the Roman Empire Sugar moved West

There is a war on sugar.  It’s making us fat.  And it’s making us sick.  Because it tastes so damn good.  We crave it.  And always have.  Since the first days we chewed on sugarcane.  Sucking out the juice.  Which was where that sweet delight was.  It was so good that the people in New Guinea (just north of Australia) learned how to plant it and raise it themselves.  Instead of just looking for it in the wild.  Around the eighth millennium BC.  From there it spread.  North.  To Southeast Asia.  Southern China.  And into India.  Where they took sugar to the next level.  They didn’t just chew on sugarcane to suck out the juice in India.  They refined it into a crystallized substance.  Around 350 AD.  Concentrating that sweetness.  And making it portable.  Then the Arabs entered the picture.

The Arabs took the Indian sugar-making technique and made it into big business.  They established plantations to grow it in tropical climes.  Where the two things that made sugarcane grow best—heat and water—were plentiful.  They built the first sugar mills to refine the cane.  Basically presses to squeeze out the juice.  Which they then boiled the water out of.  Leaving behind sugar crystals.  And added it to their foods.  As Muslim Arabs displaced Christians from the lands of the Roman Empire sugar moved west.  The Arabs introduced sugarcane plantations as far west as southern Spain.  When Christian Crusaders returned from fighting Muslims in the Holy Land they brought back crystallized sugar to Europe.  And they quickly fell in love with those white crystals.  By the late 13th century even England had grown a sweet-tooth.  Who would go on to consume so much of the stuff that they would rot their teeth away.

Then the Europeans entered the sugar business in the 15th century.  At first it was just the wealthy that enjoyed sugar.  Then it spread to the common people.  As demand grew they established new plantations to meet that demand.  In southern Spain.  The Atlantic island of Madeira.  The Canary Islands.  The Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa.  All had good growing climates for sugarcane.  And each plantation had its own processing plant.  For a ship’s hold full of crystallized sugar was far more valuable than a ship’s hold full of harvested sugarcane.  Making these plantations labor intensive endeavors.  And working the fields was backbreaking work.  To step up production required a larger labor force than was available.  And to meet that demand they turned to using African slaves.

Sugar was a Turning Point from an Agrarian World of Slaves and Indentured Servants to the Modern Industrial World

By the 16th century the Europeans were taking sugarcane across the Atlantic.  And African slaves.  The Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and British brought sugarcane and slaves to Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, Guadaloupe, Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti) and elsewhere in the Americas.  With the Caribbean Islands becoming the sugar capital of the world.  France’s Saint-Domingue being the single largest producer in the world.  Until their slave uprising.  It was France’s wealthiest possession in the Western Hemisphere.  And its loss changed French ambition in the New World.  For Napoleon had his eyes on rebuilding the French Empire in North America that was so rudely interrupted by France’s loss in the Seven Years’ War.  But with the loss of Saint-Domingue and all that sugar wealth Napoleon lost all interest in the New World.  And sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States.  To prepare for war with Britain.  Again.

The British and the French both had lucrative sugar plantations in the West Indies.  When the American Revolutionary War turned into a world war the British and French squared off once again.  Especially in the West Indies.  Where they wanted to protect their possessions producing that valuable sugar.  And take the other’s possessions.  So they could expand their holdings.  And their wealth from the sugar trade.  As well as put down any slave uprisings.  Such as would later happen in Saint-Domingue.  Some say the reason the British lost the American Revolutionary War was because they diverted too much of their military resources to the Caribbean.  But the French were diverting a lot of their military resources to the Caribbean, too.  Which is one reason why the war lasted 8 years.  As the French were more interested in taking the British possessions in the West Indies than American independence.  Their first efforts fighting alongside the Americans (Rhode Island in 1778.  Savannah, Georgia, in 1779) did not help the cause.  It was only when the French fleet could be spared from the action in the West Indies that they joined General Washington in trapping General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.  With Cornwallis’ surrender effectively ending the war.  Even though they wouldn’t sign the final peace treaty until 1783.

By the end of the international slave trade Europeans sent approximately 10 million Africans to the New World.  Mostly to Brazil and the Caribbean.  To work in the sugar plantations.  Where slave ships left Africa.  They unloaded slaves in the New World.  Loaded the sugar these slaves grew.  Shipped the sugar back to the Old World.  Unloaded the sugar and loaded on finished goods.  Then sailed back to the African slave stations.  Where they traded their finished goods for more slaves.  There was big money in The Trade Triangle (trade from Africa to the New World to the Old World and back to Africa).  But sugar also helped to kick off the Industrial Revolution.  For the iron industry grew to make the machinery of the sugar mills.  As each plantation processed their sugarcane into crystallized sugar that was a lot of cast iron gears, sprockets, levers, axles, boilers, etc.  Basically a turning point from an agrarian world of slaves and indentured servants.  To the modern industrial world and wage-earners.

There is a Correlation between America’s Obesity Problem and the Switch from Cane Sugar to Corn Sugar

By the 19th century technology was making better sugar at lower costs.  The British designed a low-pressure boiler.  As water boils at a lower temperature when at lower pressure they were able to refine sugar with less energy.  Cutting production costs.  And waste.  As higher temperatures caramelized some of the sugar.  Though caramelized sugar can be delicious on crème brûlée you don’t want it when you’re producing crystallized sugar to sell.  Then the Americans improved this process by creating the multiple-effect evaporator.  A multi-stage device where the pressure is lower in each successive stage.  They use steam to boil water in the first stage.  This vapor then provides the energy to boil water in the next stage.  Which is at a lower pressure.  And, therefore, has a lower boiling point.  That vapor then boils water in the next stage which is at a lower pressure.  And so on.  Where one energy input creates a lot of useful work cost-efficiently.

With the advance in refining equipment refinery plants grew more complex.  And expensive.  So instead of building one on every plantation they built fewer but larger ones.  And shipped raw product to them.  Modern ships and economies of scale made this the new business model.  Companies grew and opened other refineries.  And expanded vertically.  Growing sugarcane as well as refining it.  One of the best at this was the American Sugar Refining Company.  That at one point controlled 98% of the sugar processing capacity in the United States.  Which earned it a spot on the original Dow Dozen.  The first 12 industrial stocks the Dow used in calculating their Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896.  And remained a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average until 1930.

Eventually the Americans couldn’t compete with foreign sugar producers any more.  They enlisted the help of Congress to impose tariffs on cane sugar imports.  Forcing Americans to pay more for their sugar.  Then they started making sugar out of government subsidized corn.  High-fructose corn syrup.  Which pretty much sweetens anything manufactured in the United States today.  That some say causes more health problems than cane sugar.  Including obesity.  Those in the high-fructose corn syrup business vehemently deny this.  But there is a correlation between America’s obesity problem and the switch from cane sugar to corn sugar.  Because of the different way the body metabolized corn sugar it did not satiate our appetite.  Leading us to over consume.  Such as with sugary drinks.  Which have gotten so large in size that New York City Mayor Bloomberg tried to make these large sizes illegal.  Because America’s over consumption of sugar was making us obese.  While Britain’s over consumption of cane sugar only rotted their teeth away.  It didn’t make them obese.  Which makes the case that corn sugar is less healthy than cane sugar.  Despite what the corn sugar lobby says.

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The Government made us Obese by making us Eat and Drink High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

The study of sweeteners can be confusing.  Once upon a time people used sugar made from sugar cane grown in tropical climates.  Then we found we could make sugar from sugar beets grown in cooler climates.  These are pretty much pure sucrose.  Then there is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is a combination of glucose and fructose, heavy on the fructose.  Made from, of course, corn.  Today this is the dominant sweetener in the United States.  Because of intensive lobbying by the HFCS lobby.  Who had their friends in government place a quota on domestic sugar production, subsidize U.S. corn producers and slapped an import tariff on foreign produced sugar.  Artificially raising the price of sugar in the U.S.  To force those buying sweeteners to buy the higher priced HFCS.  Create great profits for the HFCS business.  And their friends in government.  While increasing the cost of the sugar millions of Americans add to their coffee.  And water else they like to sweeten.

As bad as this manipulation of the market economy is it gets even worse.  Due to the greed of those in government this rise in HFCS use may have caused another problem.  Our obesity epidemic (see Fructose makes people think they’re still hungry: Study by QMI Agency posted 1/3/2013 on the Toronto Sun).

A new study may provide a clue to North America’s obesity problem.

Fructose — a very cheap and sweet sugar found in North American staples — may be tricking people’s brains into thinking they’re hungry when they’re actually full.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track the blood flow in the brains of 20 young men of normal weight before and after they drank beverages with fructose or glucose, another type of sugar.

They found glucose suppressed activity in the areas of the brain that control reward and a desire for food. Not so with fructose…

The study’s authors acknowledge the study is small and doesn’t prove a link between fructose and obesity. But the journal’s editors, Dr. Jonathan Purnell and Dr. Damien Fair, note the findings mirror those from previous studies on animals.

What’s more, the study’s participants also reported feeling less full after consuming the fructose drinks, lending credibility to the MRI results.

Of course, the only reason why HFCS is ‘cheap’ is because the government artificially increased the cost of the competition.  Sugar.

While the food purists on the Left are telling our parents they’re making their kids fat because they don’t make them watercress sandwiches for lunch they’re surprisingly silent on the chemically produced HFCS.  They don’t attack those in government that have put HFCS in so many of our food products.  Giving us our obesity problem.

HFCS started entering our foods from 1975 to 1985.  And it was following this period that we started jumbo-sizing everything.  Because we just didn’t feel full like we did when we ate and drank food products made with sugar.  So we overate.  And became obese.  Apparently.

Perhaps we should look at the government as the cause for our obesity problem.  Not the 32 ounce soda.  For we used to feel full when drinking a 12 ounce soda before the government forced us to start drinking and eating HFCS.

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President Obama to Reverse Trend in Falling Child Obesity Rates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2012

Week in Review

When it comes to government policies there are unintended consequences.  And then they are the ‘I don’t care what the consequences are’ as long as those policies are politically expedient (see US childhood obesity dips for first time in decades: study by AFP posted 12/27/2012 on channelnewsasia.com)

CHICAGO: Obesity rates among small children may finally be on the decline after more than tripling in the United States the past 30 years, a study out Wednesday indicated.

The study found that obesity rates peaked in 2004 and then declined slightly among low-income children aged two to four who receive benefits from a federal food stamp program called SNAP…

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. David Ludwig said the declines seen are not enough, and he urged an overhaul of the federal food stamp program (SNAP) to help low-income families tackle obesity by eliminating junk food and adding more fruit and vegetables to their diet.

“SNAP is essential for hunger prevention in the United States, but its exclusive focus on food quantity contributes to malnutrition and obesity, and is misaligned with the goal of helping beneficiaries lead healthier lives,” wrote Ludwig, who works in an obesity prevention centre at Boston Children’s Hospital…

Ludwig noted that it pays for an estimated US$4 billion in soft drinks per year, which adds up to about 20 million servings of soda a day.

“The public pays for sugary drinks, candy, and other junk foods included in SNAP benefits twice: once at the time of purchase, and later for the treatment of diet-induced disease through Medicaid and Medicare,” he wrote.

“The nation’s US$75 billion investment in SNAP could provide a major opportunity to reduce the burden of diet-related disease among low-income children and families if policies that promote nutritional quality are instituted.”

Peaked in 2004?  Why, that was when George W. Bush was president.  At least 4 years before Michelle Obama began her war on childhood obesity.  To ensure success she should consult with George W. Bush.  Who must have done something right to reverse a trend that was in the making for 30 years.  And not her husband.  Who appears to be hell-bent on making children obese again.

One of the major causes of childhood obesity has been the federal food stamp program.  Which President Obama has expanded like no other president.  Even earning himself the moniker ‘The Food Stamp President’.  Guess he doesn’t like kids.  Well, not all kids.  Just the poor ones.  Who he is helping to a life of diet-induced disease.

So the president may be sacrificing another generation of children to heart disease, diabetes and all those other diet-induced diseases.  Why?  Well, like Bill O’Reilly said, to give the people stuff.  So they will vote for him.  Which he has.  And our poor children will pay the ultimate price with poor health.  While we pick up the cost for their extensive and costly medical care.

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Somalis now have Hope even though they Skip Meals to Make Ends Meet

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2012

Week in Review

Life in Somalia has been exceptionally hard.  Sadly, it’s a recurring theme in some African nations.  Who are ruled more by the gun than the law.  And during near constant warfare there has been little chance for the Rule of Law and capitalism to take root and flourish.  To develop a middle class where people can go to work while their kids go to school.  And then come home at the end of their day to share a family meal and pursue some family activities.  Or simply watch television in the peace and comfort of their living rooms.  Things we take for granted in nations under the Rule of Law and capitalism.  Now there is another change of political leadership in Somalia.  And people are returning home after years of exile.  People have hope.  Even if they have to skip meals to help make ends meet (see Somalis ‘free’ but have no food, water by SARA MOJTEHEDZADEH posted 10/13/2012 on The East African).

But as confidence marks a new era of political leadership in Somalia, experts are warning that over two million Somalis continue to survive on a knife edge.

According to a recent study by Oxfam, many regions of Somalia are confronting severe food and water shortfalls as a result of poor rains.

The survey of 1,800 households found that 72 per cent were worried about their food supply in coming months as a result of this year’s poor “Gu” rains — the season between April and June that supplies Somalia with the rainfall vital for its September harvest. Nearly half of those surveyed habitually skipped meals to make ends meet…

“Any further shocks without proper assistance could take Somalia back to previous conditions, but that’s very unlikely now due to weakening anti-government forces and as more and more areas come under the control of the current government,” said Tamara Nanitashvili, the acting head of FSNAU…

“Many of those who have been displaced or who lost everything during the famine and conflict and want to return will need to be assisted to resume their farming or herding. Greater security can help tremendously to achieve these things,” she said.

In America the Democrats have attacked Mitt Romney about his ‘47%’ remark.  Saying that he believes nearly have the population are just lazy people living off of government benefits.  (Which he didn’t mean.  What he meant was that it was going to be virtually impossible to get people receiving government benefits to vote for the guy NOT promising to increase them.  As once people receive some benefit they are not happy to lose it.  As demonstrated throughout Europe with all of those austerity riots.)  That he would cut these benefits.  Hurting the people that need them most.  While at the same time President Obama’s wife is leading a drive to fight childhood obesity.  And attacking fat people in general.  The mayor of New York City has restricted the size of sodas people can buy because we are too fat.  Our health care costs are out of control because people are too fat.  Yet we need more government benefits, not fewer.  Because people would starve without them.  Even though we have an obesity problem.  Unlike the Somalis.  Who have to skip meals to make ends meet.

So on the one hand we are too fat.  While on the other we’re going to bed hungry.  Which is what we call a paradox.  Because both statements cannot be true.  If we are too fat then we can’t be going to bed hungry.  And if we’re going to bed hungry we can’t be too fat.  If both statements cannot be true then the political left must be lying about one of them.

In Somalia there is no paradox.  They’re going to bed hungry.  Because they’re skipping meals to make ends meet.  And because they are skipping meals they don’t have an obesity problem.  Somalis know true poverty.  And true hunger.  They would probably love to have the chance to suffer hunger the way they do in America.  For at least they could go to bed without the gnawing hunger in their stomachs.

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Obese Girls in the UK add to the Budget Problems of the already Cash-Strapped NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

I’m sure they hear the same arguments in the UK as they hear in the US.  That we have to increase government spending on nutritional programs for the poor.  Especially poor children.  Because no child should go to bed hungry.  Yet at the same time the Mayor of New York City wants to limit the size of pop you can buy in a theater or from a street vendor because our kids are too fat.  And the First Lady of the United States wants kids to eat vegetables instead of food that tastes good because our kids are too fat.  So some in government are arguing both sides of the same issue to generate more government control and more government revenue.

In the UK they have even another metric to measure childhood obesity by.  And it’s a really sad one (see As obesity soars, girls of 11 are being given breast reduction surgery on NHS by Daniel Martin posted 8/27/2012 on the Daily Mail).

Girls as young as 11 are having breast reduction operations on the Health Service, figures show.

More than 100 girls aged 16 and under have had the surgery in the past five years after suffering severe back pain.

Health experts say some cases could be because children now tend to be significantly heavier than a few years ago, putting more pressure on their backs…

The surgery will cost the taxpayer some £5,000 a time, and critics will argue that the cash-strapped NHS should not be paying for such procedures when those with cancer and other serious conditions are not getting the drugs they need…

Over the past five years, 21,328 women of all ages have had breast reduction operations on the NHS. In the latest year for which figures are available, 2010/11, the total was 4,212 – almost 12 every day.

Clearly in advanced countries many of our kids are not going to bed hungry.  It is a sad benefit of an advanced country.  We can make food so plentiful, inexpensive and tasty that our poor have obesity problems.  I’m not sure what the economic circumstances are with the girls in the linked article but if they live in the UK chances are their families are paying a lot of taxes to support their welfare state so the odds are good they are not from a rich family.  Besides, if they were rich they’d probably pay top-dollar to treat their daughters in a private facility.  But that’s neither here nor there.  What’s particularly interesting in this story is the economics of it.

At current exchange rates £5,000 is about $7,935 US.  So those 4,212 surgeries in 2011 cost the taxpayers $33.4 million dollars.  Sounds like a lot until you realize the NHS annual budget is approximately $166.6 billion (see Figure A.1: Department of Health CSR settlement 2007 – announced opening position).  So these surgeries are only 0.02% of the NHS budget.  Which just staggers the mind.  But this to be expected when a national health care service pays for everything for everyone.  It’s incredibly expensive.

When the US passed their own version of national health care, Obamacare, the Democrats sent misleading budgetary information to the Congressional Budget Office.  Such as including tax revenue for ten years while including benefits for only six years.  Transferred some $716 billion out of Medicare.  And other accounting shenanigans.  So when the CBO scored Obamacare it came in at $940 billion over ten years.  Which was less than $1 trillion.  The magic number.  Because it would make Obamacare less costly than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But when you look at the budget of the NHS you just know they’re playing fast and loose with their numbers.

The US has approximately 5 times the population of the UK.  So they would have approximately 5 times the patients in Obamacare than they have in the NHS.  And approximately five times the cost of the NHS.  So if you multiply the NHS annual budget by five you get a likely cost of Obamacare for one year.  $833.1 billion.  Only slightly less than the original CBO scoring of Obamacare for a ten year period.  Multiplying this out over ten years brings it up to $8.3 trillion.  Making the original CBO score light by 886,256%.  An enormous mistake.  Or misrepresentation.  Of what it will cost to give everything to everyone.

If they don’t repeal Obamacare there won’t be any money left to prevent children from going to bed hungry.  But there should be a corresponding reduction in other health care expenses.  As hungry children won’t have an obesity problem.

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Scientists in Singapore have found the Wip1 Gene may be Responsible for Obesity, Heart Disease and Cancer

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Businesses aren’t hiring in the U.S. because they have no idea what their labor will cost them under Obamacare.  They were hoping for a Supreme Court reprieve but their ruling went against them.  The Constitution.  And common sense.  They now look to the November elections as their last hope to remove this hiring obstacle.  But perhaps there is another way.  We can just stop being sick (see Singapore scientists discover control mechanism for obesity, cancer by Julia Ng posted 7/3/2012 on Channel News Asia).

A*STAR scientists in Singapore have made what is believed to be groundbreaking discovery of the mechanism that controls obesity, atherosclerosis and, potentially, cancer.

Scientists from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) and the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) said they have found a new signalling pathway that regulates both obesity and atherosclerosis.

The team showed, for the first time, that mice deficient in the Wip1 gene were resistant to weight gain and atherosclerosis via regulation of the Ataxia telangiectasia mutated gene (ATM) and its downstream signalling molecule mTor…

Obesity and atherosclerosis are accompanied by the accumulation of lipid droplets in fat cells and in foam cells respectively.

Foam cells can subsequently rupture, damaging blood vessels, and contributing to further progression of atherosclerosis.

The scientists discovered that Wip1 deficient mice, even when fed a high-fat diet, were resistant to obesity and atherosclerosis by preventing the accumulation of lipid droplets…

Together, these three pathological conditions — obesity, atherosclerosis and cancer — account for more than 70 per cent of mortality worldwide, making ATM-related pathways very attractive therapeutic targets.

Our friends in Singapore may have solved the Obamacare problem.  They may have found a way to prevent 70% of all illnesses.  Making a national health care system moot.  Imagine that.  Perhaps they and the pharmaceuticals can develop a pill therapy to remove the Wip1 gene from our bodies.  Allowing us to eat whatever we want to eat without any weight gain, heart disease or cancer.  Good for us.  Good for the over-burdened health care system.  But bad for the vegetable farmers that supply the salad industry.  Yes, salads can be yummy.  But so can a half-pound bacon cheeseburger.  And if both are just as good for you guess what people will be eating.

With such a pill there would be no reason NOT to repeal Obamacare.  Because with 70% of the stuff that kills us gone we’ll be able to afford the other 30%.  Cash out of pocket for the small stuff, perhaps via a medical savings account.  And a real insurance policy for the unexpected.  Like catching an infectious disease that requires hospitalization.  Health care problem solved.  And for far less that the trillion or so dollars Obamacare will cost us.

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Kids are Fat in Canada, Too

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

Kids aren’t obese only in America.  They’re obese in Canada, too (see N.S. to spend $2M to combat childhood obesity posted 6/7/2012 on CBC News).

The Nova Scotia government will spend about $2 million over the next year to help reduce childhood obesity and associated health problems…

“Nova Scotia is dealing with epidemic levels of childhood obesity, inactivity and unhealthy eating,” said Premier Darrell Dexter.

Their plan includes a “healthy start with a focus on breastfeeding.”  They’ll educate kids about nutrition and exercise.  Make healthy food and exercise readily available.  And spend money on trails, sidewalks and facilities to get these kids off of their fat asses.  Interestingly, there is no mention of a 16 ounce limit on sugary beverages.  New York’s Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to combat child obesity.  Though one could make the argument that breast milk is not a sugary beverage.

So if it’s not the soda pop making these kids fat what is it?

Among the surveyed Grade 3 students, about 80 per cent of both boys and girls met the physical activity standard on five or more days per week. By Grade 11, that number dropped significantly — about five per cent for boys and less than one per cent for girls.

Thompson blames electronic devices and poor attitudes for the problem.

Guess that would be cell phones.  Smartphones.  Computers.  Tablets.  And, of course, video games.  It appears that kids prefer gossiping and playing video/on-line games over physical activity.  Or they’re just so narcissistic that they have to share every thought and minute detail of their lives with their social network.  Which is just a more sophisticated way of saying “look at me, look at me, look at me.”  So they spend their passing hours with their electronic devices.  Instead of going biking or dancing they’d rather simulate that activity.  Gossip about a friend.  Or be the center of the universe.  All while getting fat in the process.

You know, it just may not be those large cups of sugary beverages causing our obesity problem.  It may be something else.  Wise words from the past come to mind.  From the wisest of wise.  The Oompa Loompas. 

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have a perfect puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me

What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats
What are you at getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come of that?

I don’t like the look of it

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who’s to blame

The mother and the father

Those little orange bastards were wise.  Even if they were only characters in a movie.  Then again it’s hard to parent these days.  There are so many outside influences.  And because of the high cost of living these days it often takes two incomes to raise a child.  Leaving our kids without parental supervision for a few extra hours each workday.  Where they are more likely to pick up bad habits.  Perhaps we should be looking at that.  Why does it take two incomes these days to raise a family?  High taxes and inflation.  Both have shrunk real earnings so much that a single income can’t raise a family like it did before.  It was LBJ’s Great Society spending in the Sixties that caused the massive inflation of the Seventies.  And parenting in the US has never been the same since. 

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