You know there’s something wrong with the way medicine and research are conducted in this country when a 16-year-old kid develops an in-home application for cancer detection that turns out to be 400 times more sensitive and 26,000 times cheaper than current testing technologies.
Give yourself the next five minutes to allow this information to sink in. In the “richest nation in the world”, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t figure this out before some 15 year-old kid decided to get bored enough to go tinkering around with biochemistry—you know for kicks.
Now granted, Jack Andraka is certainly exceptional. But being an exceptionally bright teenager doesn’t quite explain why billions of dollars thrown at cancer “research” and six-digit salaries paid to the purported champions of cancer medicine hasn’t produced a significant breakthrough anyone can readily recall.
Do you like organic fruit? Well you should, because one middle-school student, Ria Chhabra, conducted an experiment with fruit flies which suggests that organic fruit has many more health benefits than fruit grown by conventional industrial farming methods. A MIDDLE-SCHOOL CHILD. This has got to be getting embarrassing for both healthcare and food industry “experts”.
So, why aren’t THESE stories just exploding all over, with billions of donations pouring in for these kids? Why aren’t there political bodies moving to reexamine the integrity of our food and healthcare systems for the benefit of all citizens? Oh wait, that’s right, we’re too busy airing the REAL tragedies of wealthy New Jersey housewives crying over the pocket change they’ll spend to repair damage to their shore homes.
Whenever it is that I feel the need to bring focus to the shady blemishes of the healthcare and food industries, I’m often met with one popular argument that’s puts me—as the whistle blower—in a rather awkward position:
“Well it’s a business, they have to make money”.
This statement is served alongside the casual charge of labeling me a hater of capitalism, or at the very least, an obtuse individual whose ignorance prevents him from understanding the basic principles of private enterprise.
It’s a good strategy to call someone a socialist in the mecca of capitalism; it shifts the focus from logic to dogma, in an environment where emotions run hot with the green blood of U.S. profiteering. Even the modest suggestion that a reduction of bottom lines might do well to serve the whole of society is enough to elicit a conditioned response good enough to behead you for treason.
But when analyzed properly, the businesses-have-to-make-money argument holds little merit, as it narrows the focus of the discussion to mean that challenging the practices of private enterprise means denying it profits. It’s a distortion used to obscure the fact that honest business can certainly be profitable.
It is absolutely the case that honest products can be marketed and sold to a population of consumers for great profits. But more than that, is the expectation that products and services actually benefit consumers, that they meet the needs of the market in a direct and honest way—after all, that’s what the private market economy is supposed to do: meet the needs of consumers.
If the essential health needs of a society require the integrity of organic produce, and a corporate entity hands us genetically modified fruit, technically speaking, the market has not met the needs of our society. Actually, in that scenario, what happens is that the greedy profiteering needs of private enterprise are satisfied at the expense of consumers, who will glean an ever smaller percentage of benefit at a much higher cost. This transfer of responsibility and cost to the consumer is something I’ll discuss in a future article, but in this case, it comes in the form of dollars and health.
What’s important to understand is this: Dishonesty in either the creation or delivery of products and services—whether it means misrepresenting the benefit products offer to consumers, or, the deliberate withholding of technological advancements that would otherwise cut costs and risks to consumers—constitutes a failure of private enterprise to meet the needs of the market.
In fact, with regard to healthcare and food, it’s probably best to adopt a practice of great integrity, as those products and services are meant to bolster and preserve the well-being of a population. That is to say, unlike other private markets of whose engagements are the result of subjective wanting, healthcare and food are basic essentials that are inherently unavoidable. Keeping that in mind should, without fail, cast any and all dishonest practices in these sectors as a deliberate act of exploitation.
There are no true barriers which prevent the honest distribution of goods and services to customers who benefit from their consumption. But what’s often required is an amount of effort and accountability incompatible with the insatiable greed so commonly found in the private sector.
The bottom line is this:
Honest food and medicine are both profitable businesses. The unfortunate thing is that DISHONEST food and medicine are far MORE profitable; the problem is greed.
As I watched the beautiful Jenny McCarthy recount the miraculous recovery of her autistic son, allegedly reversing the symptoms of the disease with dietary changes, I was taken back by the response questions offered by the hostess. According to Jenny, her son had been a normal and healthy child before receiving the MMR vaccine, which she believes was the reason for his autistic diagnosis. After explaining how diet changes, vitamins, and detoxes helped to cure her son, McCarthy was practically interrupted by the hostess who inquired,
“…is there a danger in putting medicine into your own hands, because technically, you’re not a doctor…?”
Now, whether or not Mrs. McCarthy actually witnesses her child being cured of autism is anyone’s guess. But that’s not what interests me; I’m more interested in the reaction of the hostess—a reaction which reflects the silent indoctrination all citizens of this nation are subjected to from birth. Her inquiry is exactly the line of questioning used to discourage the kind of curiosity and exploration that could topple the established order. The message becomes a vehicle for fear which emphasizes the need to trust the status quo of medicine, leaving the entirety of your health in the hands of private industry—because that’s what it is folks, for profit industry.
The framing and tone used by the hostess is one that seeks to perpetuate the power of the healthcare industry and the standards of unquestionable trust needed to convince sick people that “only your doctor knows what’s best for you”. The suggestion that only persons recognized by the established order can have valid contribution to the discussion is completely debunked by a 16-year-old kid who discovered a better way of detecting cancer, and a 26-year-old patent clerk named Albert Einstein who saw the universe more clearly than any other physicist of his time.
When it happens that others challenge my suggestion that a less privatized health and food industries would prove to be more beneficial to society, people talk about incentive and motivation—the most common being that you won’t motivate people to become great doctors if you don’t pay them a lot of money. This, of course, is another silly myth which insists that a single minded pursuit of wealth is the only valid motivator for anyone to be great at anything. What were great people doing before all of this money came into it? A bond salesman used to make 27k a year before the 80’s—yet somehow, the job got done. *shrug* MAGIC I GUESS.
So what would happen if doctors got paid less, and medicine wasn’t as profitable? Well, for one thing, you’d get doctors who have more passion for the health of patients rather than the financial incentives. You’d also get a healthcare system interested in keeping patients healthy rather than leeching off of their slow, symptomatic deaths.
At some point you’ve got to stop and ask yourself: What are the goals of healthcare and food industries? If the goal is that a population remain healthier, then it’s a conflict of interest that the profitability of the industry be dependent on people staying sicker, longer. If the goal is to make as much money for as long as possible, well then you’ve pretty much painted the exact picture of today’s problems.