It should come as no surprise that the “budget negotiations” have, rather quickly, shown us that the Republican House Majority quickly figured out that they had no chance of holding most of their seats unless they backed off on their plan to destroy Medicare, and so they did. The fact of the matter, of course, is that Medicare (unlike its companion program, Social Security) is unsustainable currently, because Medicare taxes plus Medicare premiums barely cover half the cost of the program, the rest coming from “other general revenues,” which these days means borrowing from China. Popular or not, Medicare is a financial time-bomb.
On the broader subject of health and health expenditures, I’m reading a brilliant tome by Dr. Andrew Weil called “You Can’t Afford to Get Sick” in which he makes a number of remarkably astute observations about just why our health care system (now eating 1/6 of GDP and growing) is… unsustainable, and, because of its combination of insane expense and insane ineffectiveness, will soon destroy us. This, of course, is because we’re not healthy, despite the cost. We believe that its better to use expensive pharmaceuticals and other medical interventions than it is to take care of ourselves, which, of course, is insane, but it is also insanely expensive (although extraordinarily profitable to Big Pharma and to the insurance industry, both of whom own the government, which subsidizes the mess). And being a big picture thinker, Dr. Weil observes that obesity and smoking are just about the twin death-stars of our health care nightmare… and on obesity, Weil suggests restoring funding to schools for physical education. Keep our kids healthy, by taxing rich people? WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING, DOC? Oh, right… you don’t smoke.
So, my plan would achieve the same result, only be politically feasible. While our children’s health is, of course, disposable in this society, our beloved military is not. I propose establishing, within the Defense Department AND DEFENSE BUDGET, the Division of Permanent Strategic Readiness, or some similar nomenclature, to take over the nation’s physical education directly in the interest of national security. While some people might be upset at their elementary, middle and high school aged children having to do 10 mile jogs with full pack, go over obstacle courses, do their morning calisthenics and so forth under the tutelage of uniformed military personnel, our ongoing military readiness requires this. AND local school districts can save themselves the expense of paying for gym teachers. And, of course, our kids will be in shape for a change, and a variety of expensive health problems will be solved.
And, of course, since there is no further reason for our military personnel to remain in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Iraq, they will need something to do. Physically training our youth to be fit and ready for duty seems like a damned useful thing, if you ask me. Out of the box and into the boot camp. Hooooah! Quite bellyachin’ and MOVE IT, KIDS! This has been… “Synthesis.”