The Politicization of Diet and Medicine

I have noticed that medicine and nutrition has become so politicized that sometimes a person will not listen to reasonable dietary recommendations if those recommendations are “left-wing”. The premiere anarcho-capitalist site on the net, LewRockwell.com, seems to have become a “Paleo” diet site. At the same time some of the “whole foods, plant based” doctors veer off into worrying about catastrophic man made global warming on their sites rather than sticking to the science of health and diet. I had one friend who said that she mentioned “The China Study” to a friend and he rejected it as “a bunch of socialism”. What the heck is going on?

American health has been dominated by the government for well over a hundred years and we are now sicker than we have ever been. The cost of medical care is now at an all time high and the results are horrific. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other degenerative diseases are epidemic. The backbone of Western Medicine is primarily supported by prescription medication, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It is only through expensive and highly invasive procedures and treatments that American doctors seek to help their patients. I have never in my life had a doctor give me any useful advice on diet or treatment of a condition by dietary means.

How did we get to this point?

In the 1860s, the American medical profession was significantly different in nature from that which we see today. The profession was unlicensed and anyone could set himself up as a physician with only market forces determining who would be successful or not. There were many medical schools and the overwhelming majority of them were privately owned and operated. There was great opportunity for any prospective student to enter even the best medical school and learn the healing arts. With free entry into the medical profession and with medical education readily availably and inexpensive, the nation saw large numbers of men enter into the practice of medicine. It has been said that in 1860 there were more doctors per capita in the U.S. than in any other country in the world. There were 175 doctors per 100,000 in 1860 according to the census of that year.

With the competition being what it was, by the 1870s many orthodox doctors desired to enlist the aid of the government to restrict the flow of doctors into the field. To restrict and control medical schools was one of the main goals.

The most effective and tireless spokesman for the economic benefit of regular physicians was the American Medical Association and it had three goals. The first was the establishment of medical licensing laws nationwide to restrict entry into the profession and thereby create a situation of fewer doctors than the free market would have otherwise provided. This would secure an advantaged economic climate for the doctor. The second goal was the destruction of the proprietary medical schools and replacing them with government controlled non-profit institutions of learning who would serve a smaller and more select student body. The third goal of the AMA was to use the licensing laws and government controlled medical schools to eliminate any heterodox medical sects and enforce an approved medical orthodoxy.

In 1910 the AMA’s Flexner report declared that a surplus of substandard medical schools in the country were producing a surplus of substandard doctors. The AMA convinced lawmakers to shut down “deficient” medical schools and of course the AMA was held as the ultimate authority on what schools were “deficient”. They were able to cut the supply of doctors by 30% in short order. This choke hold on supply has continued to today. For example, there have been no new medical schools opened in the U.S. since the 1980s even as the population increased dramatically.

The AMA has practiced an aggressive turf-protection war that does not allow nurses, midwives, physician assistants and practitioners of alternative therapies (such as chiropractors, natural hygiene, or naturopathic medicine) to offer standard treatments for routine illnesses without physician supervision. The once robust industry of midwifery has been virtually destroyed thanks to the intense lobbying against it by the medical industry. Most states ban this honorable practice and thereby help to keep health-care expensive and lucrative for the anointed doctors. Milton Friedman wrote in 1961 that the AMA’s licensure and other efforts to control the supply of doctors and services produced a net reduction of quality of care. He wrote in Capitalism and Freedom, “Licensure has reduced both the quantity and quality of medical practice, … It has retarded technological development both in medicine itself and in the organization of medical practice.”

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American medicine has been taken over by corporatist interests. The research labs, clinics, regulatory agencies, medial press and journals, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, your personal general practitioner, and all the rest are all products of the domination of medicine by the government. This fascist system is committed to treatment of symptoms of disease and not curing the underlying causes of disease. There is a reason that the life expectancy in some backward nations exceeds that of the United States and you will never hear about it from your AMA loving doctor.

I once went to my doctor and my blood pressure was sky high. The doctor told me that I would be on three blood pressure medications for the rest of my life. I told the doctor that I would find a way to get off those medications and he said that was not possible. Within six months I was off all medication and my blood pressure averaged better than 120/80. The doctor was amazed. How did this happen? I did it simply by eating right and losing weight. A dietary approach to healing is just not part of modern medicine and it will never be as long as the government controls medicine for the benefit of the doctors, hospitals, big phrama and so on rather than for the patient.

Health care is just one more area of our lives ruined by governmental intervention.

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