The Keys

June 26, 2013 § 11 Comments

Fun with garlic scapes

Fun with garlic scapes

Over the past couple weeks, a handful of themes have come to dominate the numerous conversations I’ve had regarding money and wealth. It will probably not surprise any of you to hear that one of those themes is health care. I suppose I could have anticipated this, although frankly, I didn’t. Which is only indicative of yet another of my privileges: To be healthy and to have a spouse and sons that are healthy.

At the risk of giving away the whole darn point of this post in only the second paragraph, let’s be very, very clear: Our so-called “health-care” system is much less about keeping us healthy, as it is about treating and profiting from the numerous preventable diseases and conditions that prevail in 21st century America. Ironically (or maybe not), many of these conditions are the direct result of having monetized practically every aspect of human well-being. What’s that? You’d like an example? But of course.

Let us consider diabetes. Right now, the global market for diabetes drugs is currently in the $40 billion range, and is projected to reach $118 billion over just the next half-dozen years. And get this: The incidence of adult diabetes is projected to double by 2050, to the point where it will afflict one in three Americans. One can only imagine how much profit will be realized when fully one-third of us depend on diabetes treatment simply to live. For those of you whose moral compass is pointed due south, to the gates of hell, here is my advice: Diabetes. It’s a growth market. Invest now.

Why are we becoming so damn sick? Could it be because we have chosen to feed our populace from an ethos of quantity and profit, rather than quality and reverence? Yeah, I’d say it could be. Could it be because many of us feel as if our lives have been hijacked by debt and by the social pressures that compel us to assume a particular lifestyle, one that simply does not allow us the time to feed our bodies and spirits in a manner that is truly nourishing? Yeah, I’d say it could be. Could it be that one of the factors that keeps us from living in a manner that is truly aligned with our belief system and spirit is – get this – our fear of losing health care benefits? And that by not living in accordance with what we truly believe and know to be true, we become increasingly vulnerable to the omnipresent messaging that what we truly believe and know to be true is, in fact, false.
It’s certainly not just diabetes. Consider that between 2006 and 2010, sales of behavioral modification drugs like Ritalin and Adderall increased 83% to over $7 billion annually. Why? Does anyone really think there was an 83% rise in the incidence of the conditions for which these drugs are prescribed over just four years? And if that were really the case, wouldn’t our so called “health care” system – if it were truly interested in keeping us healthy – be as invested in figuring out why such an increase was happening as it was in treating the resultant symptoms?
Here is the truth: We do not have a health care system. We have a profit-care system, because that is what it truly cares about: profit. The manner in which we care for the health of the people of this nation has been perverted by the mentality of money. Just as the manner in which we feed the people of this nation, or govern the people of this nation, or educate the people of this nation has been perverted by the mentality of money. And so long as we continue to fatten the profit-care system with our money and our spirits, it will only continue to rot from the inside out.
This is all cold comfort to those who are already dependent on the dominant profit-care system. I realize that, and I have tremendous empathy for those who can see no alternative but to continue working a job and inhabiting a lifestyle they know is killing the spirit simply so they can keep the body alive. This is the true tragedy of the commodified arrangements of our time: They turn us into both curators and dependents.
But for those of you who are so blessed as to have choices, I urge you to do everything in your power to support the alternatives that exist outside these bloody rotten institutions that view us as no more than pockets to be picked. I urge you to do everything in your power to maintain your good health and vitality, along with the clarity of your belief that your worth as a person is not one iota dependent on capitulating to social pressures around the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the house you inhabit, the friends you keep, the education you get, the forces you should fear, what constitutes security, and so on.
I urge these things because they are, in so many ways, the keys to your freedom.

§ 11 Responses to The Keys

  • Kent says:

    Well spoken Ben . . . well spoken! Thanks!!

  • ali says:

    Here’s your next book!?

  • Audie Jean says:

    Wow! You hit the nail on the head. Fabulous post — I agree with you 100%.

  • Tonya says:

    Our family gets questioned about this often – how dare we choose to live the way we do and have others pay for our healthcare,many commenters have asked on my blog – as you wrote above – our familyis blessed to have our health – no allergies, chronic illness, etc… but i think much of the reason is because of the lifestyle choices we have made…
    We do our best to stay out of the health care system loop – avoiding doctors,etc only when absolutely necessary – it has become such a crazy system not based on well being but based on treatment – huge topic.

    • I completely agree with this and we take great steps to avoid the health care system (homebirthing, eating well, etc). I wish we had a system, though, that wouldn’t bankrupt a family or cause you to lose your farm if one of the kids got cancer or someone was in a serious automobile accident. Even catastrophic-only insurance is crazy expensive and if we want to be living truly self-sufficiently we shouldn’t be relying on government to pay for any health insurance at all– just figure out how to make private, catastrophic insurance more affordable for families who otherwise opt-out of the mainstream health care system. I’d love your thoughts on this. -Kerry

  • Hwa Su kim says:

    I have been a nurse for 31 years and I say “Amen” to your post. Each year I have witnessed how the health care system or even government policy has ignored the prevention part of health which is the most important and the cheapest and only put the band aid to the sickness as the name of advanced technology which increases the coat ever more each year. I believe each one has the responsibility to their own health and health care professional needs to educate and put emphasis whcih gets no reimbursement from the insurance company or medicare. Pill and procedure are not cure nor fix.

  • Melissa says:

    I also work in healthcare and you are right that it is all about profit. I am a social worker and love my job–I also believe in working to change the system from the inside out. I’m not sure that ignoring it altogether is the only (best) option. But I understand why people do. And if you are healthy, even better. But there are so many people without choice and who rely on the services they need, whether for mental health treatment or physical treatment. I’m glad to be a voice of dissent within the system to try to change things in whatever small way I can.

  • Wendy says:

    Yo, Ben – you hit the nail on the head! Thank you for writing this – it speaks perfectly to what has happened over the last 50+ years. I plan to pass it on to friends who live in Atlanta (where most are still zoning out) to see if we can start a movement of sorts to help wake people up to a new way of seeing life, the world – and the economy. More on this later …

    ~ W.

  • Dawn says:

    I spent a LOT of time and effort earning a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy (an rehabilitation profession like physical and speech therapy) only to become completely dismayed when I quickly discovered the system I was working with had absolutely no interest in helping people become whole and functional, only in cost containment. For example, I would be told my patient, Mr. X, could have 37 minutes of therapy that day. Not 38, not 36. He had to have 37 minutes or he could be dropped to a lower level of care for the next assessment period (usually 30 days per Medicare.) Gee, what happens if Mr. X, who may have just had a stroke or broke a hip or whatever, doesn’t feel well today and can’t tolerate that much therapy or, on the other hand, is doing very well, wants to be independent and go home and can’t have more time until the next assessment period because no one is paying for it. AHHHH!! It makes my skin crawl to think about it and I left the system more than 10 years ago. I’m sure it’s only worse now. I agree with the post with every fiber of my being, Ben, but I also see another factor. Lawsuits. Costs of health care are, in part, so astronomical because hospitals and doctors have to protect themselves from lawsuits. Costs are high but all health care workers hear is cost-containment, cost-containment” to the point that you, as the practitioner, feel as if you are beating your head against a wall. It sounds a lot like teachers providing supplies for their students out of their own pockets. I know many therapists who would stay late and work off the clock to get the ridiculous amounts of paper work done (which is not reimbursable time) so the normal work day can be spent trying to help people. Which is the whole reason I and most people I know became therapists in the first place. I do believe the majority of people providing the direct care to patients actually do want to help but they face regulations which make it nearly impossible to do so in any real sense. I started my own business after that seeing people in their homes and not dealing with insurance so I actually felt like I was making a difference in people’s lives for the first time in my career. The answers are exactly as you describe the most important one being to avoid entering the health care system to begin with, if at all possible, and to be your own health care advocate. I think you’ve got the insight and passion for another book here!

  • Melanie J. says:

    Yes! Touched on this myself just the other day (, and as I learn how to take better care of myself, I’m torn as to what I’ll do when Obamacare kicks in next year. And I thank the gods I’m healthy enough to have choices regarding health care right now.

  • sarah says:

    I completely agree, on many levels. Our society lives in a vicious cycle of eating poorly, working too much, being stagnant, physically and mentally, and being sick. Living in (Ontario) Canada, we have a universal health care system that is paid for by our taxes. We don’t have to pay for doctor or hospital visits, procedures, etc. Having said this, our system is still very much profit driven and our tax dollars do fuel our “bandaid” system. Our family chooses, in many ways, not to be part of this system. We eat healthy, we are active, we try to reduce stress. We model healthy lifestyle choices for our kids. We do not vaccinate. We seek alternative, preventable medicines. Having said this, our health care system has provided our family much security. I was born with a heart block and had a pacemaker implanted at the age of 11 (and have had two new ones since), my daughter was born 6 weeks early, was hospitalized and now has ultrasounds every 3 months looking for fast growing tumours on her liver and kidneys, and my niece was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10 and is insulant dependent (despite being very active, eating healthy, not being vaccinated, etc.). We often say, if we lived in the US, we would have lost our home, etc. I think it is fantastic to have the intention of living with little and to not to fuel the system, but the unexpected can and does happen (despite a healthy lifestyle), and the health care system may be needed. What would you do if you needed the health care system?

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