3/22/2013

Mixed Motives

In his book, Why We Get Fat (and What to Do About It), Gary Taubes points out a terrible truth and a massive flaw in the for-profit motive in all things critical when he describes the slippery slope the medical profession slid down when it bought into and began to promote the flawed argument that saturated fats are bad and carbohydrates are good. "We are told to eat less fat and more carbohydrates, and rather than avoid heart disease and get thinner, as the authorities had hoped we would, we've had as much heart disease as ever, and dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes.

"A more insidious problem is that all involved--the researchers, the physicians, the public-health authorities, the health associations--commit themselves to a belief early in the evolution of the science, arguably at the stage at which they know the least about it, and then they become so invested in their belief that no amount of evidence to the contrary can convince them that they're wrong."

It turns out almost everything on this chart is wrong.
This is the great flaw in all bad ideas that have the unintended consequence of generating a lot of easy profits. Literally, everything from junk food to our military industrial complex is based on some kind of poor science and misunderstood information. Once the "experts" put the nation on the wrong high-carbohydrate path, they created a two-headed monster of obese citizens and a mindless, amoral corporate empire of carb-and-sugar loading fat-people-producing industries. Now, we have a public that is convinced that red meat is unhealthy and sugar coated processed-flour cereals are "part of a balanced breakfast." We are a public that has been fed the grossly erroneous FDA "food pyramid" for 50 years and, now, nobody from the doctors who screwed this one up to the health research organizations who bought into the persuasive but unproven arguement too early and with too much vigor to the real gorilla in the room--the fat factory junk food manufacturers who are pretending to be "heart healthy" and upstanding corporate citizens--wants to turn this ship around and admit they were wrong, but we should believe them now.

Americans love bashing "experts," from the television weatherman to real scientists, and medicine is going to have to take a beating for a while to change this direction. Like most Americans, doctors have become smug, self-righteous, lazy, overfed, overpaid, and sensitive about all of that.  If they begin to contradict the advice they gave us, so confidently, just last week with data that iis nearly the exact opposite, today, the majority of Americans will run to witchdoctors and evangelists for moral support and their usual pile of bullshit and bacon. Turns out, the bacon is good, but the bullshit is still bullshit.

Food isn't the only place where this irrational behavior, at both ends of the information spectrum, takes place. For more than 200 years, Americans have been fed the lie that a strong military is a defense against the forces that threaten freedom and democracy. All of the world's history proves this to be more bullshit. Almost every instance in human history when a democratic government has been overturned, overrun, and/or corrupted the core to the rot has been that country's military. When Richard Nixon and his pet neofascist, Henry Kissinger, wanted to wreak Chile's democratic government, they knew where to spend our money to do that job; on Chile's naturally corrupt military. The ancient Greek semi-democracy found its ruin through a series of idiotic military invasions on their neighbors and the resulting retaliation that spelled the end of that brief period of democracy and an empire.

In American history, every war we've fought to "protect the American way" has resulted in lost civil rights and a more militaristic society. The more we invest in our military, the less stable our nation becomes. The stronger we make our military forces, the more likely it is that the government will turn against the citizens and impose martial law. It has been true for every other civilization in human history and, contrary to delusion, we are no different than any other humans. The thing to be proud of as an American was our feeble attempt at democracy and the thing to be most ashamed of is allowing that democracy to fade and be replaced with a military dictatorship.

Like the doctors who will eventually be the ones to bite the bullet and admit to 50 years of delusion and error when they slowly try to turn the Western diet around toward something that actually works, those American citizens who "served" in the military will be the ones who will have to do the hardest work in correcting the American military delusion. The doctors are at the bottom of a huge food chain that is purely profit driven and as cold as Willard Romney's shriveled little heart. There is plenty of blame and more than enough pain to be shared by all of the culprits in the American heart health scandal, but the American SYSOP is always to blame the privates while rewarding the generals for every kind of treason or incompetence.

The same rules will apply to America's citizen-soldiers. If we are going to face the fact that our huge, brutal, incompetent military is the greatest threat to our democracy, that realization will have to be driven by ex-soldiers who tell the truth. Guys like John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, James Webb, Al Gore, Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, Paul Markin, Liam Madden, Jonathan Hutto, and the 72% of American soldiers who believed that we should get out of Iraq two years before that happened are the people who are going to force this direction change, if it ever happens. Or, at least, if it happens before we see the end of the American Empire and the economic and social collapse of this nation.

The damage done to these soldiers is permanent. Their lives will forever be contaminated by what their nation asked them to do in the name of "freedom" but in the service of profits. As Bob Kerrey said about his Vietnam experience, "You can never, can never get away from it. It darkens your day. I thought dying for your country was the worst thing that could happen to you, and I don't think it is. I think killing for your country can be a lot worse." This needs to be said by every intelligent soldier who hopes to represent and honor his country, the United States of America, until the fear mongers, weapons dealers, and bought-and-paid-for politicians are afraid to raise their heads out of their sewers.

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