Saturday, July 23, 2011

Name Your Poison

Disparities in health tend to fall along income lines everywhere: the poor generally get sicker and die sooner than the rich. But in the United States, the gap between the rich and the poor is far wider than in most other developed democracies, and it is getting wider. That is true both before and after taxes: the United States also does less than most other rich democracies to redistribute income from the rich to the poor.

------- I knew before I read the above third paragraph in the article that I would not agree with the premise - that money/wealth means you live longer. A decade of serious genealogy research has proven many of my ancestors, mostly poor, lived to ripe old ages of 80s, 90s, and my great grandmother to 100. They knew how to live, love, laugh. They knew how to make choices.

Assuming one is born without health problems, and to parents who provide a child with adequate love and care, it is lifestyle that determines longevity. Barring major accidents or disease, personal choices go a long way in determining how long we live.

Obesity, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, etc. are choices. Genes are a minute part of our destiny. There is no gene that makes a person fat, doped, a drunkard, a "sex addict." Although every couple of years junk medicine/science tries to claim there is a "gene" for every bad act or choice. Or some fame seeking expert claims a brain image can predict a criminal. All humans have the capacity for addiction and criminality - just depends on the yes/no decision made in every moment, until good or bad becomes a habit. If poor judgement and bad choices were genetic the human race would have died out long ago.

There is what I call a "justify gap" though. Not a wide one, as most folks can apologize and seek treatment to justify and hide the fact that they're pretty much self-absorbed egos operating on whim and pity parties, or the worst - empty vessels stalking among us.

Probably can thank the likes of Betty Ford for outing herself as the first bored housewife fueled on pills and martinis. I've nothing against Betty - I just wish folks would keep their dirty laundry in the hamper. Her "addictions" didn't seem to effect her longevity so I gotta wonder how severe was her addiction. I believe it began with a 1962 pain pill prescription and ended with a family intervention in 1976. Had she not been in the White House, would she have remained an embarrassingly buzzed housewife on the D.C. cocktail circuit? (By the way, I'm going to D.C. next week for a "vacation.")

I know more than a couple of women, who found themselves entangled in legal problems and/or moral dilemmas after wild partying, and used addiction as excuse, becoming lifelong spokespersons for having "overcome" their addiction. Sorry, but the occasional drunken screwup does not an addict make. I think they were just scared from a close call and tired of partying - hangovers get damned harder after age 25 or so, just ask the revolving door at treatment centers. And Betty, being high on pain meds is at least as old as the Dilaudid deluded housewives of 2 centuries ago.

I have a family member, almost 80. She was in good health until about 20 years ago. She stopped working and very quickly gained weight, developed diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension. Before she became completely housebound, about 10 years ago, her hobbies were bingo, which she couldn't afford, and eating. No gardening, no mall walking, no road trips, no walking the dog, who also got fat. She has a daughter who is in her 50s, she too no longer works, is housebound, heavily medicated (high), slowly dying in front of a television. She had the usual trendy "diseases" of the 1980s, carpal tunnel syndrome, bad back, bad knees - had surgeries on all of them more than once, thanks to government healthcare. By age 50 she was stiff, overweight, diabetic, and on disability, major organs deteriorating - she will not live anywhere near her mother's age of 80. These are their choices. Not their genes, not their level of wealth. They and millions of other "poor" shorten their own life span.

At one time I tried to convince the family members above to eat healthier to reverse their health problems. They claimed healthy food was too expensive, an excuse I've heard from many syndrome-lovin' folks. But, which costs more - a couple of pieces of fresh fruit or half of a cheesecake? A piece of broiled fish with lemon or those crispy deep fried fatty pork steaks and butter loaded mashed potatoes?

Their grandchildren will be (and are) dying much, much younger than 80 - completely unrelated to "income gap" and solely related to gluttony, sloth, envy, and "cool" stuff like promiscuity, drugs, alcohol. (Ask an honest gynecologist what "free love" is doing to health and quality of life). The same choices kill the wealthy the same way (i.e. Elvis, Mama Cass, Belushi, Farley, Monroe, nouveau riche).

"Studies" also show the gap between wealth and obesity is closing. So, on the fairness side, the wealthy will also get sicker and die sooner - their big fat choice.

What makes a life long - diet, exercise, work, rest, and wanting what you have - available to all Americans regardless of what the income gap babblers constantly babble.

Note too that the same ideology/folks who push redistribution/mo' money as a cure all also excuse and/or encourage the behavior that creates many of the ills in the first place, in the name of freedom and your right to do, use, eat, drink, screw, take, try, whatever you want, even if it kills you. (Sometimes with "in moderation" in the fine print.)

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