Happy Memorial Day. I spent the first two days of the three-day weekend catching up on some sideline programming projects, so I’m taking today off (mostly) and posting some audio/video clips.

While on the low-carb cruise, I was interviewed by Howard and Georgene Harkness of N=1 Health. You can listen to that podcast here.

Below I’ve posted the final four segments of the UCTV series The Skinny on Obesity, featuring Dr. Robert Lustig.

You probably won’t be surprised that I disagree with the idea of regulating sugar.  Yes, obesity and diabetes are major problems, but the key to solving those problems is education.  Most people simply don’t realize how bad sugar is for their health.  They’re still being told dietary fat is the problem — by a government that subsidizes and promotes wheat (which may be as bad for us as sugar) and subsidizes corn, which makes high-fructose corn syrup dirt cheap.

The rate of smoking among adults is half of what it was back in the 1950s, and that’s because people learned how bad smoking is for their health. We need the same kind of push to educate people about the metabolic damage caused by sugar. Once people refuse to buy delivery vehicles for sugar, the food manufacturers will stop putting it in everything. They don’t tell us what to eat. We tell them what to sell us by our choices at the grocery store. That’s how markets work. That’s why New Coke, Taco Bell’s Border Lites and the McLean Burger were all flops, despite huge advertising campaigns.

I chuckled when one of the experts interviewed in the final segment talked about taxing the foods we subsidize — a government fix for the actions of government.  How about if we just stop subsidizing corn, wheat and other lousy food and see how that works first?

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40 Responses to “Holiday Audio-Video Stuff”
  1. Not to mention getting the Government Health Insurance/subsidy/whatever you want to call it gorilla off our backs so we’re not stuck paying for other people’s bad health choices.

    Heck, the people who love to deride “fatties” should be delighted, because they’ll have full license to jeer at people who won’t stop putting bread in their mouths.

    If socialized medicine forces you to subsidize unhealthy people, then the problem is socialized medicine, not individual choice.

  2. Jana says:

    If sugar is regulated and heavily taxed, packaged foods are going to get very expensive and the food makers will switch to adding things that could be more harmful in place of the sugar (MSG?), just to keep the costs down and sell more food. I think it is more important to educate people on the dangers of sugar consumption so they can make the decisions for themselves as to their health.

    The law of unintended consequences would show up somewhere.

  3. Beowulf says:

    I agree. I would not support a tax on sugar, but I would definitely back the elimination of subsidies for corn, wheat, and soy. While I don’t like all the sugar in our food, if government starts to tax it, then I’m sure they’ll be taxing saturated fat, red meat, and salt in short order. It’s a very slippery slope. Education may not solve the problem for everyone, but it would be a good start.

    Exactly. Based on recent history, why would we trust these people to tax the “right” foods?

  4. Dale says:

    I agree with you about education being the key, but governments tend to do things that bring in money before the consider spending it.

    Or maybe I’m just being overly cynical.

    In Australia our government taxes cigarettes, alcohol, and now a tax on carbon pollution, all designed to make things more expensive so we’ll be less likely to buy or use them. I can see the same thing happening with sugar, provided something is done about it of course.

    Then there is education through the community, though to be honest I’m getting tired of the rolling of eyes and the “not more crap you’ve gotten from the Internet” look.

    Maybe I’ll have a little more luck once all of the excess weight is gone.

  5. Lori says:

    Definitely. Look at gluten-free products. Twenty years ago, they didn’t exist, 10 years ago, they tasted like cardboard, and now they’re as good as regular. (I have a gluten-free goodie as an occasional indulgence.)

    On conference calls, company officers talk about what’s selling and what isn’t. Of course they talk about marketing too, but they’re not going to bother marketing products they find that there’s not enough demand for.

    Bingo. They don’t control the market; consumers do.

  6. Paul Eilers says:

    I totally agree. No food police please! Let the marketplace decide.

    (And more honesty in labeling, for folks who do not have time to do all the research on the effects of chemicals, ingredients, etc.)

    I don’t want the government telling us what to eat regardless of which foods they consider bad for us, but of course they still think saturated fat is bad and wheat is good. Giving them more power in that arena would be a very, very bad idea.

  7. Peggy Cihocki says:

    I 100% agree with you. When the government decided fat was bad and people started looking for low fat stuff to buy, the market supplied it, no problem. And now we have a plethora of such foods. Education and people voting with their pocket books is what we need, not taxation. Only this time, the education has to come from the ground up. The government sure isn’t going to do it! And end the subsidies, by all means. It’s the ultimate of ridiculous to talk about taxing subsidized commodities and the products derived from them.

  8. Jessica says:

    The rate of smoking among adults is half of what it was back in the 1950s, and that’s because people learned how bad smoking is for their health.

    You really don’t think government regulation of tobacco, including extremely high taxes, has anything to do with that?

    No, I think that has very little to do with it. I’ve known several people who quit smoking, and not one mentioned cost as a factor. Addicts will endure great cost to get their fix. Governments know this and count on the revenues.

    Smoking rates in the U.S. are highest among high-school dropouts and people living at or below the poverty level — i.e., those who can least afford the taxes and yet willingly pay them. The lowest rate of smoking (6%) is among those with advanced degrees — i.e., those who can most afford the taxes. So it’s not about affordability.

  9. Daniel09 says:

    They did technically ban positive advertisements for tobacco, so that probably helped in preventing some tobacco use. It’s fairly clear to me that the abuse of alcohol can at least be somewhat related to the fact that it seems like a third of all commercials are for alcohol.

    Still, government shouldn’t have to actively intervene with peoples’ food. The fact that we even have a FDA which isn’t working for people is proof that government action in health is exactly the opposite of what we need. It’s good for weeding out snake oils, but it obviously doesn’t work when it comes to general nutrition. I mean, if I ate the way I’m supposed to eat, it would cost me an arm and a leg, and I don’t even know how to keep that kind of food in the house without updating it every few days with fresh goods. No way anyone could possibly live like that naturally. The magic of the low-carb lifestyle is that it is a lifestyle that can be lived in the wild, technically, if you live in a decent sized society that can maintain livestock. This is evidenced by tribes in Africa and South America.

  10. Bong Kim says:

    You have to understand that the anti-smoking movement has been supported by the U.S. government recently. That’s one reason why it’s been successful.

    It’s naive to believe that if the government stops what it’s been doing, the problem is solved.

    No. that is not true. You have to make your government to do the right thing.

    Education? Education is as much influenced by interests as the government. Just check who donates money to nutritional departments at universities.

    Well then, explain this logic to me: they want to tax HFCS under the theory that if it’s more expensive, we’ll consume less of it. So how does taking away the subsidies — which will dramatically raise the cost — not accomplish the same goal?

    Making your government do the right thing? You mean like their fabulous dietary guidelines?

    By “education,” I’m not referring to universities. I’m referring to knowledge being disseminated by both individuals and organizations. Most of what people know, they learned outside of school.

  11. Denny says:

    Coercion and force from the Government is never a good idea. Recently here in Utah a high school was fined $15,000 by the federal government for selling sugary sodas during lunch hour. Here is government stupidity in action. The kids could buy the sugary soda BEFORE the lunch hour started or they could leave campus and walk half a block to the convenience store and get the sugary soda or they can buy one after lunch is over; they just can’t buy one during lunch (the machines have to be turned off for that hour and someone forgot).

    So now the school activities department is out 15 grand and the kids still have no idea why sugary sodas are bad for them. Like Tom said, education is the key not government coercion and force.

    I, too, do not support a tax on sugar (or income, or property, etc. because taxation is theft, but I digress). Educate educate educate that is the answer.

  12. Darren Doyle says:

    The whole time he started talking about government programs I was thinking, “oh, Tom’s going have fun with this!” I totally agree with you Tom! His examples of vaccinations and water fluoridation are perfect examples of junk, too! Some vaccines are great, but the government (unsurprisingly) has taken it to the extreme and turned it into junk. High mercury content vaccinations (well above safety levels in other areas), and pushing vaccinations like crazy for everything when the vaccine often has more risks than the thing it’s guarding against (flu comes to mind). Water fluoridation is even worse! Study after study keeps showing how harmful ingesting fluoride is, and how it accomplishes nothing (or the opposite of desired) towards its intended purpose: stronger teeth and bones. Reminds me of the opposite-of-desired effect of pushing low-fat. I’m no conspiracy guy by far, but I’m really starting to see that gov just needs to stay the hell out of public health.

    Here’s link to water fluoridation info. It’s worth looking at: http://www.fluoridealert.org/fluoride-dangers.aspx

  13. Marilyn says:

    “The law of unintended consequences would show up somewhere.”

    Yes. A commenter on one of these blogs has already suggested that if sugar/HFCS is drummed out by taxation or whatever means, the sugar substitutes, those known and those yet to be invented, might even be scarier. The fact is, if sugar calories are replaced by real food, there will be an improvement in a person’s health. If sugar calories are simply replaced by non-caloric sweeteners — as would surely happen if sugar is taxed or otherwise regulated — I’m not sure much is to be gained.

    It will never happen, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if the food pyramid/food plate graphics were outlawed — banned completely from all media. . .

    I’m not a fan of banning images, but if we’re going to ban one …

  14. shums says:

    I must admit I am really disappointed with how this series turned out. I agree with the message but not the conclusion. That is to say the conclusion that government must fix it. Somehow there is an assumption there that government will fix it and do a good job doing so. Where is the example of that? I think the message that government must fix it is actually a dangerous message to promote. It says to people that you can’t do it and that government must solve it for you so don’t even try. These videos will not be part of my link library.

    I’m afraid the final conclusion — government must step in and regulate sugar — will merely turn off a lot of people who otherwise agree with Dr. Lustig.

  15. Live Free or Diet says:

    Dr. Lustig is a fine scientist and educator, but that’s where he should have stopped.
    The convenience store where I work is a nutritional desert full of sugar, alcohol and hexane-extracted oils. Lustig’s assertions aside, I resist them just fine because I don’t depend on willpower. Low Carb: Don’t let hormones manipulate you, manipulate them! I always carry plenty of lunch to work and nibble on it when the peanut butter cups stare at me too hard.
    A good steak charcoal grilled with onions and asparagus is cheaper per pound than anything we sell anyway.

    Bingo. Convenience stores have tried to sell cheap produce in poor areas and ended up throwing the stuff out. Lack of produce on the shelves is the symptom, not the cause.

  16. John says:

    Denny, help me out here. Tom too, please. Why are sugary sodas sold in schools at all? One answer: profits for the school system, even at the detriment of the student’s health.

    Is there no role for government here at all? Not at the federal, state, or local level? Why not sell beer and wine in the schools? No role for government?

    There must be some middle ground.

    I don’t have any problem with schools deciding not to sell sodas. As for the role of government, it was local school governments that decided to sell sodas in schools in the first place. So I don’t see government as the answer to over-consumption of sugar.

  17. Linda says:

    Speaking of schools……………….
    “This is what we’re up against”……………..
    http://lockerz.com/s/212863364

    They start the brainwashing early, don’t they?

    They got one of three right. Under “new math” concepts, I believe that’s considered a passing grade.

  18. b-nasty says:

    I agree that Lustig should stick to what he knows. When he brought up that tired ‘food deserts’ nonsense, he totally lost me. The government could ship and subsidize fruits and veggies to poor, urban areas all they want. I guarantee the local fast food joints would not feel any pain.

  19. Bong Kim says:

    No government is perfect. Well, is there anything perfect in the real world?

    If you don’t like agriculture subsidies or any other policies, make your government to stop that.

    Your logic is like this. If you made some mistakes in the past, you’re going to make mistakes all the time over and over. Therefore, it’s best not to have you do anything. Just tell me your past mistakes :-)

    It’s great to believe in education, but there is a limitation. How about legalizing drugs and just educating young generations that drugs are really bad?

    I just hope that you won’t give up your government. Yes it does make big mistakes sometimes but the solution is not to make it weak. It should be to make it to do the right thing. As soon as it becomes weak, I suspect that the U.S. government is already weak, other strong force (i.e. the big money) is going to control your life. At least you can elect your government, you know.

    You’re missing the crucial point: the essence of government is force, as George Washington put it. There are few situations that justify the use of organized force. So even if government imposed dietary policies that were scientifically correct, I’d still be opposed to them imposing those policies. But of course, the policies won’t be scientifically correct, because that’s now how government works. The policies will be determined by who has the most clout in Washington.

    The “big money” can’t force you to do anything. No corporation can force you to buy its products — unless government gets involved, as it has with Monsanto. Take government out of the equation, and all you have left is voluntary exchanges.

    Yes, I would support legalizing drugs and educating people about why taking them is a bad idea.

  20. Bridget says:

    Yup, this makes me think of that part in Fat Head when you interviewed all those people on whether they believed the meal you showed them was high in calories or not. No one said that they thought it was low in calories. People know what is good and what is bad. I am a huge fan of educating individuals rather than acting like a babysitter and taking things away from people who should know better.

  21. Iva says:

    I believe it is all about educated choice. Eat what you want – just know what you’re eating and what it can potentially do to you/for you.

    My thoughts exactly. It’s the people who are screwing up their health with grains because they’ve been told grains are health food who have my sympathy, not the people who drink 44-oz sodas. I can’t imagine anyone thinks that’s a good idea.

  22. Marilyn says:

    It looks as if “sugar-free” has already been enshrined alongside “fat-free.” I saw a recipe for a chocolate pie the other day, and the first ingredient was sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding. I read no further, except to glance at the bottom and see that this luscious dessert was to be topped with some white plastic glop “whipped topping.” It’s entirely possible that the more things like fat or sugar are frowned upon by the “officials,” the more unhealthful the substitute “foods” will become. As long as the fat-is-bad, fat-is-fattening, meatless-Monday, red-meat-kills, healthywholegrains, yadayadayada “wisdom” continues to be published, any shift by the general population to a better diet after sugar had been eliminated would be purely accidental.

    Foods are palatable because of sweet, fatty or salty tastes. If all three are considered dangerous in their natural forms, you’re right: we’ll end up with more fake food.

  23. What a shame. I’d noticed a few things in the first six episodes where Lustig seems, when not in his domain of expertise, to otherwise accept the current dogma.

    And there’s something about his demeanor that just made me think “prig.” I figured maybe I was just profiling (and profilin’ is wrong!), but it turns out I wasn’t profiling — he was telegraphing.

    Then to suggest regulation and subsidizing “good food” without a peep about the $100 billion a year being spent on grain subsidies and food stamps is a display of breathtaking ignorance.

    Cheers

    He correctly identified the problem, but when he gets into the economics of the cure, he’s outside his area of expertise.

  24. Kay says:

    The video about pregnant women and women’s health before getting pregnant, and how that “sets up” the child for obesity got me thinking about autism. So we’ve started seeing Alzeihmers being referred to as Diabetes 3, so could autism be related to the mother’s insulin overproduction while pregnant?
    I just googled and found this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGizH7NaRxY from Rice University, so apparently someone is thinking of that!

    I think autism could also be related to consuming modern wheat.

  25. Kay says:

    I also have an issue with the last video, but it’s more about the “cost” of obesity. You hear it all the time, how fat people are driving up medical costs or burdening the skinny people of the world with their girth. Well someone is making a lot of money off the fat people of the world! For every soda drank there is a producer of the product, a shipper (trucks), a seller (grocery stores) than the consumer. If people did not over-consume, how many jobs would disappear? How many diet books are bought, gym membership signed up for, restaurants opened, medical professions making money, etc…….because that obese person exists?

    Plus, as I’ve said before in an email to you, if an obese person dies earlier, say 55 years old, vs a healthy person who dies at 85, who has a lower life-time medical cost? If someone is healthy, doesn’t that mean they have a higher chance of surviving multiple health problems that enable them to live to 85, 90, etc…?

    If you think about it, an obese person is a perfect economical model. They overconsume while they are of working age, than they die off before they retire. What corporation (or government) would turn that away?

    I have an issue with the cost issue as well, as I wrote here:

    http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2010/02/18/meme-roth-a-burden-on-us-all/

    But I wouldn’t be worried about people spending less on food and destroying jobs. They’d spend the savings on other purchases, creating other jobs.

  26. Carolyn Gillham says:

    Too bad we can’t get a high profile celeb to challenge people to cut out starches and sugars and focus on protein, non-starchy veggies, nuts, seeds, and fruit like berries and citrus for a month. (Yes, I am on The Smarter Science of Slim) People will feel so good and see some amazing healthy results that they will want to stick to this way of eating. My husband admitted that the he thought I would only stick to this for a month or so. Like all the other diets I have been on. I asked him why would I give up on a program that gives me energy, better sleep, blood-sugar regulation, and fat loss without hunger and moodiness? His response: maybe there is something to this and then he ate some Greek yogurt with some blueberries and cherries.

    There are celebrities who eat low-carb, but they don’t seem anxious to lead the charge.

  27. Kay says:

    Wow, just read the Meme Roth post and all I can say is sorry, I didn’t find out about you until April 2011….you probably have a lot of gems like that in your archive.
    You Rock! :)

    Thank you.

  28. Erik says:

    If there is an “Obesity Epidemic” in America, a lot of it is probably due to the fact that Americans don’t smoke as much as they did 50 years ago. Smoking is negatively associated with weight gain, more than any food. The #1 reason a lot of people don’t want to quit smoking is that they don’t want to gain weight.

    A while back, there was a study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine. One of those large observational studies based on self-reported data that you love so much. The headline was that reduced consumption of soda / red meat and increased consumption of whole grains would help you lose weight.

    If you dig deeper into the study, it turns out they buried the lead. Former smokers who remained ex-smokers gained 4 times as much weight as soda drinkers. Former smokers who started smoking again lost 5 times as much weight as people who switched to ‘healthy whole grains’.

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/suppl/10.1056/NEJMoa1014296/suppl_file/nejmoa1014296_appendix.pdf

    So there’s your Law Of Unintended Consequences right there. Even eliminating a bleeding obvious health danger like cigarettes results in some negative health consequences.

    As for a sugar tax, people already spend $5, $7, $10 for a soda at a ball park, or at an amusement park or at a rock concert. In some places in the USA, the tax on cigarettes is $6 a pack or more, and people still smoke.

    And anyway, it won’t stop food manufacturers from adding sugar to anything. Tax refined sugar and they’ll add unrefined sugar. “New Coke – now sweetened with Turbinado / Pure Cane Juice / White Grape Juice, etc”. Or maybe they’ll sell unsweetened Coke and let you add your own sugar.

    Plus, at what point does the Government stop being a taxing authority and start being a corporate partner? The Government makes more profit off a pack of cigarettes than the cigarette manufacturers. They make more profit off a gallon of gas than the oil companies. Now they’re fixing to make more profit from the sale of unhealthy food than the manufacturers of the food. Maybe 20 years from now, it will be our patriotic duty to purchase full-sugar Coca Cola, because the money is used to fund schools and daycare and hospitals. I can see it now. “Drink Coke. It’s for the Children.”

    All good points … but of course I’d never encourage people to take up smoking to lose weight. I believe the difference between smokers and non-smokers is about 8 pounds on average. Give me a little belly and let me keep my lungs.

  29. Walter B says:

    Why would the celebrities lead the charge and increase the competition? There is no money in telling people to eat real food, but there is in hawking fake food. I remember some ex basketball player (Barkerly?) advertising Weight Watchers and getting caught on camera bad mouthing them.

  30. Bong Kim says:

    “Take government out of the equation, and all you have left is voluntary exchanges.”

    This is a myth. I know that you are a computer programmer and running a popular internet website and that you must know better.

    For example, how much do you pay for your internet connection? I pay less than $20/month for unlimited 100Mbps up/down at my home (I’m not in the States).

    Just tell me when you are going to get 100Mbps at your home? Do you think it’s possible to get such service in your lifetime at all?

    This is the result of “voluntary exchange” that you are so in love with. The reality is that you do not have a choice other than accepting the bad deal the big money forces you. This is why people in the States pay much more for much less. In other words, the big money controls the market not you as you like to believe.

    If you’d like to learn how other countries have much better and cheaper internet connection services or much better and cheaper health care systems for that matter, you first need to see the facts first without tinting by your ideology. This sounds quite like what you’ve been preaching all the time about human diets, doesn’t it?

    If I pay $100/month for internet, that’s a voluntary exchange, genius. No one is forcing me to subscribe to Comcast’s internet service. I decided I’d rather have the internet service than the $100 per month. I could tell Comcast no thanks and keep the $100 instead. (Actually, I get high-speed internet, two phone lines with free long distance in the U.S. and Canada, and cable TV with most of the premium channels for $140 per month. I happily took that voluntary exchange.) I could also go with ATT or satellite. I chose Comcast because I liked their deal the best.

    Our health-care system hasn’t been a free-market system for decades. In areas of health care in which there is a free market (elective procedures), costs have dropped. Getting your eyes fixed used to cost several thousand dollars. Now you can get it done for under $1,000 in many areas. That’s what a voluntary buyer-seller relationship accomplishes. What we have instead for most of our health-care system are a few insurance companies in most states, prohibited by government from competing across state lines. State legislators then tag on all kinds of mandatory coverages to please the lobbyists who wanted them. So I’m not allowed, for example, to buy a cheaper policy that doesn’t cover psychiatric care or infertility treatments — neither of which I would buy if I were allowed to make a totally voluntary exchange with an insurer headquartered in, say, Omaha. Some states even require mandatory coverage for hair treatments. (You know, because people are always dying from baldness.)

    Our health care is expensive because our government made it expensive. Now a whole population of idiots wants government to step in and fix the problem created by government.

  31. Marilyn says:

    @Older Brother: Of that $100 billion, food stamps are expected to account for $80 billion this year.

  32. Peggy Holloway says:

    Please prepare the padding on you desks for this article, which appeared in my local newspaper this morning and on the “Livewell Nebraska” blog today.
    Debating which kind of donut is healthier? Really?
    http://www.omaha.com/article/20120531/LIVEWELL02/705319933/1161

    BANG. BANG. BANG.

  33. Marilyn says:

    @Peggy Holloway: Just be sure that you have *skim* milk with that donut as suggested. . .

  34. Erik says:

    I don’t advocate smoking, either. I’m saying there are unintended consequences to everything. If the only thing people care about is reducing weight, they can do it will all sorts of horribly unhealthy lifestyle changes – taking up smoking, shooting heroin, developing anorexia, ingesting dangerous diet pills, replacing dietary fat with sugar, you name it.

    Karen Carpenter managed to stay thin. Whitney Houston managed her weight pretty well. Anna Nichole Smith lost lots of weight. Such healthy people.

  35. Underground says:

    Don’t worry, Bloomberg is going to save NY city by banning extra large sugary drinks.

    See tonight’s post.

  36. Bong Kim says:

    “Our health care is expensive because our government made it expensive.”

    You already have an efficient health care system run by your government, Veterans Health Administration. Check the cost effectiveness comparisons to other private health cares you buy through “voluntary exchanges”.

    And it is not “voluntary exchanges” when you do not have a choice. You’d better understand why your country has anti-monopoly laws. Without regulations the big money usually becomes monopoly and exploits consumers. Your internet service market is controlled by one or two big companies and that’s why you have to pay much more for much less. It is not “voluntary exchanges”, it is a rip-off.

    “Voluntary exchanges” do not offer you efficient health cares nor cheaper and faster internet services. These are just two counter examples to your theory. If you have to ignore facts, you’d better question your theory first.

    You’re an economic illiterate. Most monopolies in the U.S. occur through crony capitalism: businesses being granted monopolistic power by government. Happens all the time. When I lived in Chicago there was one cable company with no competition — the city council outlawed competition. That means the problem was government, not the free market. Even then, I still had the choice to forgo cable.

    Most other supposed monopolies weren’t. Kodak was called a monopoly. So was IBM. Both ended up getting their asses kicked by competition. Standard Oil, the big supposed monopoly of the 1900s, became a “monopoly” by reducing the cost of fuel by 90% — they did not, as legend has it, sell at a loss to wipe out competition. They found ways to make fuel cheaper and ended up with nearly all of the market because they offered better prices — you know, voluntary exchanges and all that.

    Yes, it’s a voluntary exchange even if you aren’t happy with the price, goofball. Freedom doesn’t mean people have to sell you what you want at the price you think they should. It means you have the power to say no thanks. If you don’t say no thanks, then you decided you’d rather have the product or service than keep your money. So you made a voluntary exchange.

    So, you live outside the U.S. but you know all about the wonders of our V.A. health system, eh? Gee, I’ll bet Michael Moore told you all about it.

    Our V.A. health care is often a horror show:

    http://pensacola.injuryboard.com/medical-malpractice/va-gives-veteran-bad-care-one-horror-story.aspx?googleid=202956

    Much of the supposed efficiency comes from “stick ‘em and send ‘em home” treatment. The supposed efficiency of Medicare is based on the administrative cost as a percent of treatment cost. Since Medicare patients are far older and sicker than the population as a whole, they require much more expensive treatments on average. So here’s how that awesome government efficiency is calculated: I go to the doctor for a $200 checkup. It costs the insurance company $50 to process the claim. The administrative cost is 25%. Meanwhile, my grandmother requires a $10,000 surgery. It costs Medicare $100 to process the paperwork. The administrative cost is 1%. Wow, is Medicare ever efficient! Look at that low administrative percentage!

    Medicare does not spend less on administration per event. They spend more. (Seriously, do you think insurance companies — supposedly the most greedy bastards on earth — are walking away from bigger profits by simply refusing to adopt the awesome efficiency of the U.S. government?)

  37. Paul says:

    In Ep 6. I find it interesting that they are talking about stress causing obesity. I have to ask that in life there is always stress. Going back thousands of years there has always been stress. To say that stress causes obesity doesn’t sound right. To control stress will not help control obesity.

    Only by personally controlling what we eat and recognizing how much sugar and carb is being presented to us over other options that are actually healthier. Recognizing what is truly healthy and what isn’t.

    Knowledge is way more powerful than any sugar or carb’s company marketing program.
    Educate everyone on truly healthy choices is the only viable solution.

    Cortisol, a stress hormone, does trigger fat accumulation in many people.

  38. Bong Kim says:

    “You’re an economic illiterate. Most monopolies in the U.S. occur through crony capitalism: businesses being granted monopolistic power by government.”

    In the case of internet services, the big companies in the U.S. merged together to control the market. If you keep ignoring facts, you’d better to question your theory. The facts are there, and you just refuse to see them as they are because of your ideology.

    And you offer one horror story to debunk the cost effectiveness of Veterans Health Administration? Hmm… that’s quite a weak position, isn’t it? I know a person who eats lots of carbs and low fats and healthy. So is your human diet theory totally wrong? And you are a diet illiterate, aren’t you? If you have to defend by an anecdote instead of statistical data by a third party, you just have to start to question your theory.

    Say what? I’m not able to choose between Comcast, ATT or satellite for internet service? Comcast merged with ATT? And you know this from afar? Man, you must be omniscient. I would think that kind of merger would show in the newspapers.

    I already explained the supposed “efficiency” of government health care: People who are on Medicare or end up in VA hospitals require far more expensive care on average, so the administrative cost as a percent of the cost of the procedures is automatically lower. The administrative cost per procedure in our government system is higher, not lower. Only an economic illiterate would believe that private insurance companies could lower their administrative costs (thus boosting profits by millions) but just aren’t interested in adopting the awesomely efficient administrative practices of the federal government.

  39. Bong Kim says:

    Speaking of an economic illiterate, please read the following column which is very easy to understand, and tell me who is illiterate.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/opinion/krugman-vouchers-for-veterans-and-other-bad-ideas.html

    Regarding internet services, it’s very funny that you have to include a satellite service to pretend that you have a competition there. I feel your pain. I have a choice of 100Mbps up/down FTTH from 3 different companies in addition to ADSL(phone line) from 2 companies and a local cable TV company. That’s why it’s much cheaper and faster here.

    Don’t you really know why you don’t have such a healthy competition there? It is because the big companies merged and lobbied in order to control market and because your government has failed to do what it should do. It is not allowed for companies here to have a monopoly right to a phone line or a FTTH line, for example. It is regulations by the government that keep the competition healthy.

    When we had a monopoly in phone service in the U.S., genius, it was enforced by GOVERNMENT. It was illegal to compete with ATT. “Illegal,” in case you don’t understand the word, means prohibited by GOVERNMENT. It was our GOVERNMENT that prevented healthy competition.

    “Big companies merged and lobbied to control the market” … do you understand what “lobbied” means, genius? That means they asked the GOVERNMENT to limit competition. They asked the GOVERNMENT to prevent people from making voluntary exchanges. If you think GOVERNMENT squashing of competition somehow proves an free-market system based on voluntary exchanges doesn’t work, you’re a bigger idiot than I already supposed.

    Ahh, I see … your government created these fabulous internet speeds and made them cheap. And here I thought private enterprise was involved somehow. You know what we should do … we should create a country where government provides all the services. That would have to be a fabulous place to live … all those modern technologies delivered by government, everything affordable for everyone. If only we could give that system a shot in a few countries for, say, 70 years or so to see how it works …

    Comcast offers 105 Mbps service, by the way.

    Seriously, you believe quoting left-wing flack like Paul Krugman proves something? In case you haven’t noticed, he writes an OPINION column. He’s nothing more than a cheerleader for socialism and socialist politicians. So you’re not only an economic illiterate, you apparently can’t spot the difference between facts and opinions.

    This the same Paul Krugman who 1) believes the economic cure for a country already massively in debt is to borrow and spend more money, and 2) recently wrote a column claiming we actually have low inflation in spite of our government massively increasing the money supply — which is news to anyone who actually buys gas and food, not to mention an economic impossibility. In other words, he’s a dolt.

    You’re very much like my leftist pal Paul, whom I’ve been debating on my other blog. He also seems to think if socialist cheerleader-boy Krugman expresses an opinion, it must be the truth. Since this isn’t an economics blog and you’ve no doubt already bored this audience to death, if you’d like to continue putting your ignorance of economics on display in public, do it on my other blog. I’ll happily reply to you there.

  40. Buckeyefn31 says:

    Bong Kim is a complete statist. He/She probably believes that without Government there wouldn’t be any roads or electricity or tv. Heck he/she probably even believes Government is responsible for the Sun and the Air. In dealing with people like Bong Kim I turn to Thomas Paine, “‘To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

    Amen.

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