Thursday, October 29, 2009

How I Came To My Opinion of Vaccines

In my post on New Immunization Guidelines—Who Makes Them, I wrote:

“So far as I can tell, all the "evidence" in favor of vaccinations is epidemiological, that is, correlative, in this vein: "We gave this population the vaccine for X disease and the disease incidence declined, therefore the vaccine eliminated the disease." This is classic mistaking of correlation with causation, along with the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc, i.e. y happened after x, therefore x caused y. Lindlahr pointed it out more than 75 years ago.”

Some people may wonder how I could come to this opinion. I added this to that post:

“I formed my opinion after examination of evidence such as this graph posted at Child Health Safety :





This shows that vaccines for measles, pertussis, and diphtheria all got introduced during the natural waning of the epidemics, making it impossible for me to conclude that the vaccine had any dramatic benefit. Child Health Safety has similar graphs referring to other vaccines.

Further, if you look deeply into this, you will find that changes and fashions in diagnosis also influenced the "decline" of epidemics "observed" after vaccines. Before the vaccine for measles, physicians were on the lookout for measles, and so diagnosed it frequently (and often erroneously). After the introduction of the vaccine for measles, for example, physicians believed that the vaccine eliminated measles so they simply were less likely to diagnose an infection as measles (or test for measles). But doctors are notoriously bad at diagnosis. They overdiagnose or underdiagnose based on fashions, such as when the incidence of arteriosclerotic heart disease "increased" in 1948 after this diagnosis was added to the ICD.

And, I notice that if the incidence of infection goes down even in unvaccinated folks, rather than questioning whether the vaccination did the job, vaccine proponents attribute this to herd immunity conferred by vaccination. Its like giving treatment A to one group and a placebo to the other; both groups get better equally, so you conclude that treatment A works so well, it even helps people who didn't receive it by having a “herd” effect. In any other investigation, people would conclude that the treatment works no better than a placebo or no treatment. I understand the rationale given for this explanation in respect to vaccinations, but for vaccine proponents, it conveniently excludes the possibility of concluding that no treatment worked as well as treatment--a possibility necessary for scientific evaluation.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reuters reports: Companies reap the swine flu windfall

If you think there’s no profit in swine flu or other vaccines, I’ve got news from you just in from Reuters:

Companies reap the swine flu windfall



Some excerpts:



“Pretty much everyone who does something in influenza in has gained from it,” said Hedwig Kresse, an infectious diseases analyst at Datamonitor in London.

“From a sales perspective, the big players certainly will see a very significant windfall of this pandemic this year,” Kresse said in a telephone interview.”

“Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said this week it expects the H1N1 flu vaccine to contribute about $400 million to $700 million of sales in the fourth quarter.”

“David Kagi, a healthcare analyst at Swiss-based Bank Sarasin & Co estimates pandemic vaccine sales will be worth a total of $7.6 billion, even with a mild pandemic. A severe pandemic would result in total vaccine sales of $18 billion.”



If the spread of H1N1 goes from mild to severe, the sales of vaccines will more than double the gross income of suppliers. In billions.

Talk about perverse incentives.

Drug companies only make money if they sell drugs, and they only sell drugs if people are sick.

With this as a fact, you can see why we have rising medical care costs as well as institutional resistance to principles like paleodiet.

If everyone ate a paleodiet, the pharmaceutical industry would collapse.

So would the processed food industry.

And that would cause the GDP to decline. So "the economy" would suffer.

Can't have that happen.

Got to keep those profits growing and keep the economy humming.

At all costs.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Study: Vitamin D3 Supplementation During Pregnancy Reduces Premature Births And Improves Newborn Health

Vitamin D experts Dr. Bruce Hollis and Dr. Carol Wagner of the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, have presented results of a new trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women at at an international research conference in Bruges.

They gave gave group of pregnant women 4,000 IUs per day of vitamin D at about three months of pregnancy. They gave a second group 400 IUs per day, the amount recommended by U.S. and UK governments.

They monitored the blood and urine of trial participants to make sure calcium and vitamin D levels remained within safe ranges. They found no side effects in either group.

They found the following benefits among the women who took 4000 IUs of D3 per day, compared to the controls taking 400 IUs:

1) Risk for premature birth reduced by half.
2) Reduced incidence of small babies.
3) Twenty-five percent reduced risk for infections, particularly respiratory infections such as colds and flu as well as infections of the vagina and the gums.
4) Reduced risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.

In addition, babies getting the most vitamin D after birth had a reduced incidence of colds and eczema.

Source: FoodConsumer.org, Vitamin D can save half million babies each year: study

Friday, October 16, 2009

Swine Flu Protection

If you think that immunization provides a safe hedge against the flu (swine or seasonal), you might want to reconsider. Today, MSNBC reported that a city nurse given the seasonal flu immunization two weeks ago has now developed paralytic Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

It appears that an outbreak of paralytic syndromes also occurred in 1976 when in response to a swine flu outbreak at Fort Dix in New Jersey, 46 million Americans got the immunization. On November 4, 1979, the CBS news program 60 Minutes aired the following video report of their investigation into the 1976 swine flu immunization, which left 4,000 people claiming injury, two-thirds of them with permanent neurological damage or dead due to paralysis that occurred after immunization.





So what do you do if you want to avoid Toxic Vaccine Syndrome and don’t take the immunization?

How to protect yourself from swine flu:

1. Vitamin D3:
a) Get your levels tested through Grassroots Health.
b) Take 2000-4000 IU daily of D3 until you get your blood test results.
c) Get as much direct sunlight as possible, without sunscreen, between 10am and 3pm, with as much skin exposed as practical.
d) Maintain levels at 50 to 70 ng/ml. Many people will need 4000 IU daily to reach and maintain this level in the winter.
e) If you feel an infection coming on, take 10,000 IU daily for 3 days or until the infection passes. Pregnant or lactating women should limit the emergency dose of D3 to 4000 IU per day.

2. Vitamin A (retinol):
a) Eat 4 ounces of liver once weekly, or take 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil daily.
b) If you feel an infection coming on, either eat liver, or take 10,000 IU of fish liver oil source vitamin A for three days in a row. Pregnant or lactating women can eat a serving of liver, but should limit the emergency dose of isolated vitamin A to 5000 IU per day.

3. Eat saturated fats, especially coconut milk or oil, or butter fat. Coconut products and dairy fats provide antiviral fatty acids (lauric, caproic, caprylic, and capric acids)

4. Avoid sugar, corn syrup, honey, fruit juices, etc. A 100 gram dose of sugar can depress your macrophage activity by 50% for more than 4 hours.

5. Reduce carbohydrate intake. Diets high in carbohydrate raise blood sugar levels, which suppresses the immune response. Eat a paleo diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, as outlined in my book, The Garden of Eating.

6. Take herbs

For prevention:

If you have frequent exposure to infectious disease (e.g. schoolteacher) and history of frequent upper respiratory infections, I recommend ongoing use of Jade Windscreen (Yu Ping Feng San) throughout the flu season. This contains a high dose of astragalus root (Huang Qi), which raises white blood cell production. I have found it very effective for such situations.

For treatment:

a) Gan Mao Ling: A very potent antiviral combination of Ilex root, Isatis root, Evodia root, Chrysanthemum flower, Vitex fruit, and Honeysuckle flower. You can take it as a preventive in case of known exposure. Indications: Sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, body aches, sinus infection, ear infection, influenza, early stage measles. Contraindicated in cases with strong chills, and used with caution by people with hemorrhagic disorders or on anti-coagulant therapy.

b) Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian: Available in prepared pills. Superior for acute sore throat and swollen glands. Contraindicated in cases with strong chills.

c) Ban Lan Gen Chong Ji: An instant herbal tea available in many Asian groceries or Chinese herb stores. Use for epidemic toxins and seasonal toxic pathogens presenting with swollen, painful, sore throat, high fever, red and swollen eyes and ears, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, abscesses, boils, carbuncles, furuncles. Contraindicated in cases of with strong chills, and use with caution in hemorrhagic disorders or with patients on anti-coagulant therapy.


d) Gan Mao Jie Du Chong Ji: An instant herbal tea available in many Asian groceries or Chinese herb stores. For upper respiratory tract infection, cold and flu, especially with fever, neck pain, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion. Contraindicated in pregnancy, diabetes, and cases of strong chills. Contains sugar.

BTW, I have no financial interests in any of these products, unless of course you get them from my office.

Sources:

Sanchez A, Reeser J, Lau H, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 26, 1180-1184

Bernstein J, Alpert S, Nauss K, Suskind R. (intr. by C.S. Davidson). DEPRESSION OF LYMPHOCYTE TRANSFORMATION FOLLOWING ORAL GLUCOSE INGESTION. Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, Apr 1977; 30: 613 (abstract only published).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Study Shows Pharmacological Foundation of Chinese Herbal Medicines

As documented in Wild Health, a book suggested to me by Todd Hargraves, a frequent commenter on this blog, not only humans, but many other species have used herbal medicine for literally millions of years. I call herbal medicine Paleolithic or primal because it originated long before even the advent of agriculture, let alone the emergence of modern allopathic medicine.

Anyway, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have found that ancient Chinese herbal formulas used primarily for cardiovascular indications including heart disease may produce large amounts of artery-widening nitric oxide.

Science Daily reported on this study:

"The results from this study reveal that ancient Chinese herbal formulas 'have profound nitric oxide bioactivity primarily through the enhancement of nitric oxide in the inner walls of blood vessels, but also through their ability to convert nitrite and nitrate into nitric oxide,' said Nathan S. Bryan, Ph.D., the study's senior author and an IMM assistant professor."


Traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) used primarily for cardiovascular indications commonly contain three to 25 herbs, administered as tablets, elixirs, soups and teas. In this study, the researchers tested DanShen (salvia root), GuaLou (trichosanthis fruit) and other herbs purchased at a Houston store to determine their ability to produce nitric oxide.

They also tested the capacity of the store-bought TCMs to widen blood vessels in an animal model. They found that each of the TCMs tested relaxed vessels to various degrees.

Allopathic medical practitioners commonly assert that herbal medicine "doesn't work" or suggest it is mere "folklore." Worse, they often assert that modern pharmaceuticals are "safer" than "untested" herbs. Packaged with this comes the belief that our ancestors were stupid for believing that plants provided medicines.

Allopathic physicians learned these beliefs in medical schools funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Since herbs are non-patentable competitors for patented drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry, the industry has done everything possible to prevent, suppress, and eliminate the practice of herbal medicine in the U.S., and internationally, including telling lies about herbs and getting licensing laws passed that effectively outlawed the practice of herbal medicine.

For example, consider how the FDA demonized Ephedra. Ephedra is an excellent bronchodilator that Chinese physicians traditionally used to treat asthma. The FDA removed Ephedra from the market after collecting 100 cases where people had died while voluntarily using it. All Ephedra-related deaths in America occurred among people using the herb improperly, without the guidance of a trained herbalist, and for purposes not endorsed by traditional OM herbalists (energy-enhancement, weight loss). Moreover, in none of the cases did the evidence clearly show that the Ephedra caused the deaths.

Aside from this being another sure-to-fail attempt at prohibition, comparatively, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have much worse safety records than Ephedra. According to James Fries, M.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine, about 76,000 Americans are hospitalized and 7,600 die each year from gastrointestinal bleeding caused by aspirin and other NSAIDs. Yet these remain on the market, approved by the FDA.

Moreover, the FDA still allows OTC sales of psuedoephedrine, the patented copy of the natural compound. I wonder who this benefits.....

Shows how you can always count on the wisdom and benevolence of the government. I believe that if we did not have the government (FDA, state medical licensing boards, FCC, etc.) protecting NSAIDs from competitive market forces by suppressing natural alternatives (FCC suppresses information about alternatives), we would have far fewer deaths from NSAIDs because people would naturally seek the safer alternatives.

And since herbal medicines are not protected by profit-generating patents (another way the government increases costs of drugs, etc.), and anyone can grow herbs, the cost of medical care would go down.

But then the Statist economists would start complaining about deflation, since you know that it would kill our economy if the cost of living declined, resulting in a decline of the GDP. Or so they believe.

Anyway, as this study of TCMs shows, the continuing denigration of our ancestors and diatribe against Paleolithic medicine that forms part of conventional "wisdom" does not stand up to critical analysis.

National Center For Policy Analysis: Baucus Bill Will Force Me to Triple My Expenditures on Insurance

What Will It Force You To Pay?

According to the National Center For Policy Analysis, PricewaterhouseCoopers has analyzed the Baucus bill and found the following:

"* For individuals making $34,140 (three times the Federal Poverty Level) the Baucus health care proposal could mandate up to $4,097 in annual premiums, a sum which could have been spent on over nine months of food, almost four months of housing or well over a year of utilities.
* For a family of four making $69,480 (300 percent above poverty) the Baucus bill mandates annual health insurance premiums of $8,338, which would be worth the equivalent of over 10 months of food, four months of housing or almost two years of utilities.
* For individuals earning $45,520 (400 percent above poverty) Baucus mandates $5,462 for health insurance, or over a year of food, four months of rent or a year and a half of utilities.
* For families earning $92,640 (400 percent above poverty) Baucus mandates $11,117 in health premiums, the equivalent of over a year of food, five months of housing or two years of utilities."


According to the NCPA, those numbers include the subsidies for health insurance in the Baucus bill; i.e. these costs are after subsidies. If true, when I look at that and compare it to what I currently pay for catastrophic insurance to go with my health savings account, the Baucus plan will (if passed) force me to spend more than three times what I currently pay for insurance, none of it going into savings.

Frankly, this makes me very angry. I have other needs and if the State forces me to spend at this level for unwanted insurance, my overall quality of life will decline, and I will probably have to increase the fees I charge for my services.

Upon reading about these mandates, one of my friends said:

"That's just for insurance??? They probably have deductibles so anyone needing any care would have to pay that ON TOP OF that amount for insurance? ...so you would not necessarily get ANY medical care!"


She added:

"Man, with that much money per year I could do so much more with wellness care AND a health savings account. How on earth could anyone think it will save us money to use this plan? Propaganda and lack of info will enroll a nation in a plan that wastes our money and leaves us without the true health care you and I desire!

Who will benefit? Government workers & pharmaceutical companies, and whoever else has their hand in the cookie jar! It really bothers me this stupid plan."


Reading the original document put out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (you can download it at the NCPA site), I feel amazed that people would pay more than $1000 per month ($13K per year) for medical insurance for a family of four right now (before "reform"). That amounts to spending $250 monthly on every member. That would buy 30 pounds of grass-fed ground beef; up to 8 acupuncture or herbal treatments in my office; ten bottles of vitamin D3; and at least two "preventive" visits to a physician's office.

It seems to me that one would get more value, i.e. more real health care, by taking most of that $250 and actually spending it on health care every month, rather than throwing it in the insurance hole. By health care, I don't mean drugs and surgery (disease care), I mean quality food, stress reduction, play, exercise, vacation, necessary supplements, consultation with a health care professional, herbal medicines, etc. But I think differently than most people.

I pay a much lower premium because I elect to carry only catastrophic insurance with a $5K deductible per individual. I pay for real ongoing health care (quality food, vitamin D3, herbal medicines, etc.) out pocket as I go along, and put the difference in savings. I have not yet found out if the "reform" will allow me to continue with this choice, or will force me to pay triple for something I don't use.

PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that with the Baucus "reform" that $13K per annum cost of medical insurance will increase to $26K per annum (family of four) by 2019. Without the reform, it will increase to $22K by 2019. A large part of the increase is simply inflation (decline of the value of the dollar). I expect the price tag in either case will ultimately be much higher since I expect dramatic inflation in the near future as a result of the FED flooding the market with "stimulus" money.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Immunization Guidelines -- Who Makes Them?

On September 22, 209, Medscape reported:


"New Guidelines Issued for Immunization of Infants, Children, Teens, Adults

An Expert Panel of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has prepared updated, evidence-based guidelines for immunization of infants, children, adolescents, and adults. The new guidelines, which are published in the September 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, replace the previous IDSA clinical practice guideline for quality standards for immunization, published in 2002."


This apparently officious body now recommends a host of new vaccines:

"New vaccines that have been licensed since 2002 include human papillomavirus vaccine; live, attenuated influenza vaccine; meningococcal conjugate vaccine; rotavirus vaccine; tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine; and zoster vaccine. New combination vaccines that have become available are measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine; tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis and inactivated polio vaccine; and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis and inactivated polio/Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine.

For young children, hepatitis A vaccines are now universally recommended. All children aged 6 months through 18 years and adults who are 50 years or older should receive annual administration of influenza vaccines. The routine childhood and adolescent immunization schedule now includes a second dose of varicella vaccine. The adolescent and adult immunization schedules have expanded to accommodate many of these new recommendations."


The Infectious Diseases Society of America sounds impressive, eh? When you get to the end of the article, you find this:

"The IDSA supported formulation of these guidelines. Some of the guidelines (sic) authors report various financial relationships with Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices working group for Influenza and HPV, Astellas, MedImmune, Wyeth, AstraZeneca, the National Institute of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Novavax, Protein Sciences, Novartis, CSL Limited, PowderMed, and/or Avianax."



So we have people who profit from the sale of immunizations setting the guidelines for immunizations. On top of that, they endorse making some immunizations mandatory. How convenient to have the State make your products mandatory. Wouldn't Coca Cola like Congress to pass a law requiring that every U.S. citizen purchase 4 liters of Coca Cola every week?

How about giving us an opinion from a disinterested third party?

If immunizations work, i.e. really make immunized people immune, what do those people have to fear from non-immunized people? In 1922, when smallpox still occurred regularly, Henry Lindlahr, M.D. wrote about vaccinations:

"From England vaccination gradually spread over the civilized world and during the nineteenth century the smallpox disease (variola) constantly diminished in virulence and frequency until today it has become of comparatively rare occurrence.

'Therefore vaccination has exterminated smallpox,' say the disciples of Jenner.

Is that really so? Is vaccination actually a preventive of smallpox? This seems very doubtful when the advocates of vaccination themselves do not believe it. 'What,' I hear them say, 'we do not believe in our own theory?' Evidently you do not, my friends. If you believe that vaccination protects you against smallpox, why are you afraid of catching it from those who are not vaccinated? If you are thoroughly protected, as you claim to be, how can you catch the disease from those who are not protected? Why do you not allow the other fellow to have his fill of smallpox and then enjoy a good laugh on him? The fact of the matter is you know full well that you are not safe, that you can catch the disease just as readily as the unprotected.


I have yet to find a single proponent of vaccinations who can answer this simple question asked more than 75 years ago by Lindlahr. Sometimes they talk of "herd" immunity being the key to vaccine effectiveness. I find this funny. If you actually get a disease, like chickenpox, and let it run its course, you build immunity for life, regardless of whether or not the 'herd' has immunity.

Not so if you get the vaccine. On March 15, 2007, the New York Times reported on a study done by CDC researchers (and published in the New England Journal of Medicine) that found that the chickenpox vaccine "has sharply reduced the number of cases in children but that its protection does not last long." The Times article states:

With fewer natural cases of the disease, the study says, unvaccinated children or those whose first dose of the vaccine fails to work are getting chickenpox later in life, when the risk of complications is higher.

“If you’re unvaccinated and you get it later in life, there’s a 20-times greater risk of dying compared to a child, and a 10- to 15-times greater chance of getting hospitalized,” said Dr. Jane Seward of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, who worked on the study.


Apparently now unvaccinated children have a higher risk of adult chickenpox due to the influence of the vaccine, whereas unvaccinated children did not have such a risk by contact with people who actually had chickenpox. So the vaccination converted a non-life threatening childhood disease into a life-threatening adult disease.

The NEJM authors admitted that vaccinated children still get the chickenpox, and that vaccinated individuals who get chickenpox have a more severe form of the disease:

And when vaccinated children were infected [with chickenpox], they tended to be sicker, probably because they were older. “Children between the ages of 8 and 12 years who had been vaccinated five years or more previously were two times as likely to have moderate-to-severe breakthrough disease as were those who had been vaccinated less than five years previously,” the researchers wrote.


Yet people still "believe" in vaccines. As this article in The Atlantic discusses, many authorities 'beleive' in flu vaccination as a 'public health' measure, despite lack of evidence for efficacy or safety. This reminds me of the 'belief' in high-carbohydrate low-fat diets and cholesterol-lowering drugs, also pushed on the public without evidence for efficacy or safety.

Lindlahr again:

"But," our opponents insist, "you cannot deny that smallpox has greatly diminished since the almost universal adoption of vaccination."

Certainly the disease has diminished. But so have diminished and, in fact, nearly disappeared the plague, the Black Death, cholera, the bubonic plague, yellow fever and numerous other epidemic pests which only recently decimated entire nations.

Not one of these epidemics was treated by vaccination. Why, then, did they abate and practically disappear?

Not vaccination, but the more universal adoption of soap, bathtubs, all kinds of sanitary measures, such as plumbing, drainage, ventilation and more hygienic modes of living generally have subdued smallpox as well as all other plagues.


Lindlahr has part of the answer. Not only hygienic measures, but also the replacement of horses with autos (removing manure from city streets), improved nutrition, and simple evolution contributed to the subsidence of epidemic diseases. When these diseases ravaged populations, the people affected had poor quality nutrition. In every case, the diseases ran their course through the populations, affecting all who had low immunity, causing them to either build immunity or die, and thus leaving in their wake a population having immunity to the disease. As well, the disease entity itself evolves. A disease that kills its hosts will eventually eradicate itself.

So far as I can tell, all the "evidence" in favor of vaccinations is epidemiological, that is, correlative, in this vein: "We gave this population the vaccine for X disease and the disease incidence declined, therefore the vaccine eliminated the disease." This is classic mistaking of correlation with causation, along with the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc, i.e. y happened after x, therefore x caused y. Lindlahr pointed it out more than 75 years ago.

I formed my opinion after examination of evidence such as this graph posted at Child Health Safety :





This shows that vaccines for measles, pertussis, and diphtheria all got introduced during the natural waning of the epidemics, making it impossible for me to conclude that the vaccine had any dramatic benefit. Child Health Safety has similar graphs referring to other vaccines.

And if you look deeply into this, you will find that changes and fashions in diagnosis also influenced the "decline" of epidemics "observed" after vaccines. Before the vaccine for measles, physicians were on the lookout for measles, and so diagnosed it frequently. After the introduction of the vaccine for measles, for example, physicians believed that the vaccine eliminated measles so they simply were less likely to diagnose an infection as measles. But doctors are notoriously bad at diagnosis. They overdiagnose or underdiagnose based on fashions, such as when the incidence of arteriosclerotic heart disease "increased" in 1948 after this diagnosis was added to the ICD.

And, I notice that if the incidence of infection goes down even in unvaccinated folks, rather than questioning whether the vaccination did the job, vaccine proponents attribute this to herd immunity conferred by vaccination. Its like giving treatment A to one group and a placebo to the other; both groups get better equally, so you conclude that treatment A works so well, it even helps people who didn't receive it by having a “herd” effect. In any other investigation, people would conclude that the treatment works no better than a placebo or no treatment. I understand the rationale given for this explanation in respect to vaccinations, but for vaccine proponents, it conveniently excludes the possibility of a control group, or of concluding that no treatment worked as well as treatment--possibilities necessary for scientific evaluation.

But who cares about science when you can get politicians to force everyone to take your product by government decree, and at taxpayer expense?

Of course I could be wrong. Do the research and think for yourself.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Freedom to say no

In response to my last post (Kiss Your Health Care Choices Goodbye), Charles R said:

"So I am really trying hard to figure out why it's a bad thing for anyone who wants to buy into this insurance plan to do so."


I want to make it clear. Charles clearly assumes it this is voluntary. It is not. The plan under discussion will FORCE you to purchase insurance that meets with government approval. You will not have a choice to forgo insurance.

Why would anyone forgo insurance? Why does anyone forgo purchase of any other product or service?

OK, let's suppose you have determined that you are healthy and want to keep it that way by eating a paleo diet including grass fed meats. Suppose also that your income level is such that if you purchase grass fed meat, you elect to forgo medical insurance policies and take your chances on what works (a paleo diet) rather than investing in a policy that would only get you "care" from an industry (allopathic medicine) that ranks as the third largest cause of death in the U.S. and appears to know nothing about healthy eating.

What am I talking about? According to Barbara Starfield, writing in JAMA, allopathic medical treatments rendered in hospitals by licensed personnel cause at least 225,000 deaths annually, due to nonerror adverse drug effects, medication errors, other errors, unnecessary surgeries, and hospital-acquired infections. Starfield also cited an analysis indicating that between 4% and 18% of consecutive outpatients experience adverse effects of medical treatments, resulting in 116 million extra physican visits, 77 million extra prescriptions, 17 million emergency department visits, 8 million hospitalizations, 3 million long-term admissions, 199,000 additional deaths, and $77 billion in extra costs. [Starfield B. Is US Health Really the Best in the World? JAMA, July 26, 2000;284(4);483-85]

That's more than 400,000 deaths annually caused by allopathic medical care. In comparison, only about 50,000 people die in auto accidents annually. Do you think those medical errors drive up the cost of medical care? Sure enough, and more insurance won't change it. Fundamentally our medical system is off course.

Now Obamacare comes along and says you have to purchase a government approved plan that covers hazard-ridden allopathic services you don't want (e.g. flu immunizinations, cholesterol tests, and deadly statins) but doesn't cover real health care that you do want (e.g. VT-D tests and supplements and grass fed meat).

The cost of Obamacare increases your taxes and insurance expenditures such that you now can't afford to purchase grass-fed meat. You have to get the insurance or pay a large fine (I've seen quotes up to $3200) or go to jail.

You can't make the choice you determined the best for yourself because Obama determined that you need unnecessary immunizations, cholesterol tests, and statins, rather than necessary VT-D and grass fed meat. Its a boon for the drug companies, cholesterol labs, and the big insurance corporations (because people who previously opted out will now be forced to purchase their products if not the government product).

Now, because you were forced to buy insurance you didn't want, you can't buy the food you do want. You are now more likely to end up needing medical care.

Bureaucrats generally don't know anything about health care; they listen to the people who peddle immunizations (instead of VT-D), statins (instead of species-appropriate diet), and insurance. I don't want them determining what I do with my dollars, how I maintain my health, or how I get my insurance.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kiss Your Health Care Choices Goodbye

I don't have time to comment on this right now but did want to get it out. Basically I agree with everything in this press release and urge anyone interested in health freedom to join the National Health Federation.

QUOTE:

HEALTH CARE REFORM UPDATE –A GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TAKES SHAPE

By Lee Bechtel, NHF Lobbyist

October 6, 2009

In his recent address to Congress on health-care reform, President Obama made clear that he and his allies in the Congress know how to spend your health-care money better than you do. It’s a matter, you see, of “shared responsibility”: You share your dollars with the Feds, and the Feds are responsible for making your health-care decisions. In the health-care bill currently before the House, H.R.3200, there is even a “Health Choices Commissioner,” to be appointed by the President, who will rigorously define your choices.

There are numerous health-freedom and government-control issues in play in the current Congressional legislation. One that really sticks out is the issue of enforcing an individual mandate to buy insurance, and the costs for Americans who take responsibility and do not want the Federal government involved. Never before has Congress forced Americans to buy a private good or service. In this case, that means the forced purchase of private insurance or a government-insurance plan. In fact, for those with a traditional understanding of the Constitution as a charter of liberty (as opposed to the “living” version), the list of Congress’ powers in Article I, Section 8 grants it no authority to require any such thing.

Along with H.R.3200, Senator Max Baucus (D. Mont.) has unveiled a Senate Finance Committee bill that also has an individual mandate. It would levy a penalty of up to $3,800 on families for what President Obama has called “irresponsible behavior,” by which he means health-care choices of which he and his Democratic allies in Congress disapprove. In Obama’s usage, “personal responsibility” is selective; it does not extend to the question of taking responsibility for one’s own health care. That’s the government’s job, of course.

President Obama is right on one key point: The current system makes those with health coverage pay for those without. Those who are without health coverage, illegal aliens or US citizens, often get their care in hospital emergency rooms – the most expensive place possible. The President correctly calls this a hidden tax. Under existing Federal law, hospitals are required to provide treatment to everyone who comes into their emergency room, regardless of their ability to pay. There is no legislation under consideration that would change this.

At this time, there remains a difference between the key House bill, H.R.3200, and the key Senate legislation on Federal health-insurance coverage for illegal aliens. In the Waxman bill, illegal aliens could register and if they pay the monthly premium for a taxpayer-funded Federal health plan – "the public option" – they would then be covered. In other words, there is no requirement for verification of US citizenship. Without trying to sound partisan, there have been, to the best of my knowledge, four separate attempts/amendments by Republicans in the House committees to require verification. These amendments were voted down by the Democratic majorities in two different House committees. There have been other Republican amendments to reform the private health-insurance market that were similarly defeated (such as allowing insurance companies to sell such policies across State lines without individual State restrictions, similar to the way that automobile insurance is now sold, thereby allowing price competition on a scale not seen before).

On the other hand, as it now stands, the Baucus bill in the Senate at least requires one form of US citizenship verification (i.e., birth certificate, US citizenship certificate, social security card, or a State driver's license) to be eligible for and to pay for and be covered by a basic Federal government insurance plan. US taxpayer dollars, civil penalties, corporate and individual taxes, and taxes on middle-income taxpayers who have insurance coverage, will pay for this illegal alien coverage. This, in all fairness, may be good for individual State budgets, since many States, especially in the Southwest, already pay for illegal alien health care in hospital emergency rooms through their State Medicaid programs. Good for States like California, home to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, for example.

It gets worse. In the Baucus plan, if a person refuses to buy health insurance, either through the private insurance State cooperative program to be created, or via the Federal public insurance plan, when cited by the IRS issuing the mandated IRS penalty, and if a person also refuses to pay the penalty on Constitutional grounds, they will have to go to court and could end up in jail. This is fact. This was extensively discussed at the Baucus Senate mark-up and several Republican amendments to change this were voted down by the majority of Democrat members on the committee. The political spin on both sides of Congress is deep and heavy for proponents of government-controlled health insurance.

Requiring everyone to buy government-specified health insurance, whether they need it or not, is an unacceptable violation of personal liberty. The choice between freedom and responsibility, as President Obama and his congressional allies portray it, is a false choice. It is a way of taxing healthy people, and people who do not want Federal government control of health-care decisions, without calling it a tax.

As it stands at the time of this writing, the House and Senate will likely vote on their respective health-care reform legislation in early to mid October. The Senate Finance Committee is marking-up the unnumbered Baucus bill now. The process is not over yet, but when each chamber of the Congress passes its legislation, there will be a Conference Committee appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. President Obama and his allies, i.e. the Democrats, will have the majority of representation on this committee to work out differences between the two bills. This is a legislative process fact.

Congressional and Presidential elections do have consequences. The final script for the shape of our new health-care system is yet to be completed. One aspect is almost certain: American's Constitutional rights are being trampled on, along with individual health freedom of choice. The strong cry against this usurpation of our liberties is already starting to be heard, even in the insulated halls of Congress.

More than one hundred and fifty years ago, the French economist Frédéric Bastiat made the case that there is the right to individual liberty and then there are claimed “false” rights (such as the “right” to healthcare) that can only exist at the expense of destroying individual liberty. Nowhere is the battle between the two more vividly depicted than it is now with this health-care fight. If you care about your individual freedom – and just as importantly care about your right to make your own health-care choices that will differ from those that the government wants to make for you – then you will contact your Congressional representatives and tell them to either throw H.R.3200 out the window or else don’t ever bother coming home.

END QUOTE

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Hominid Findings


Ardipithecus image source: BBC

Science has a set of new articles from a team of researchers that have studied one of the now oldest known hominids, Ardipithecus ramidus, dated to about 4.4 million years ago.

The skeletal remains indicate that "Ardi" walked upright but still had prehensile feet with opposable large toes enabling it to climb and nest in trees. Unlike later, grassland-dwelling hominins, Ardi "lived in a woodland, climbing among hackberry, fig, and palm trees and coexisting with monkeys, kudu antelopes, and peafowl" according to Ann Gibbons, author of the article Habitat For Humanity, available free online after registration.

This find indicates that key human features appeared in the hominids inhabiting woodlands. Consequently, we can no longer explain some of those features--such as bipedalism--as adaptations to a grassland habitat.

Regarding Ardi's diet, according to Gibbons,

"The team suggests that Ar. ramidus was 'more omnivorous' than chimpanzees, based on the size, shape, and enamel distribution of its teeth. It probably supplemented woodland plants such as fruits, nuts, and tubers with the occasional insects, small mammals, or bird eggs. Carbon-isotope studies of teeth from five individuals show that Ar. ramidus ate mostly woodland, rather than grassland, plants. Although Ar. ramidus probably ate figs and other fruit when ripe, it didn't consume as much fruit as chimpanzees do today."


To clarify, by "more omnivorous" they mean that Ardi ate more animal food so it would be more appropriate to say that Ardi ate more carnivorously than chimpanzees. Ardi's diet of animal foods, fruits, nuts, and tubers sounds a lot like many recent hunter-gatherer diets.

Ardi also lacks the large, honing canines present in chimpanzees, which according to C. O. Lovejoy (Reexamining Human Origins in Light of Ardipithecus ramidus) indicates that Ardi tribes most likely had reduced male-to-male conflict compared to apes. Based on this, Lovejoy also believes that Ardi probably "...combined three previously unseen behaviors associated with their ability to exploit both trees and the land surface: (i) regular food-carrying, (ii) pair-bonding, and (iii) reproductive crypsis (in which females did not advertise ovulation, unlike the case in chimpanzees)" and that that "Together, these behaviors would have substantially intensified male parental investment—a breakthrough adaptation with anatomical, behavioral, and physiological consequences for early hominids and for all of their descendants, including ourselves."

In Paleobiological Implications of the Ardipithecus ramidus Dentition Gen Suwa et al conclude that the Ardi data suggests that "fundamental reproductive and social behavioral changes probably occurred in hominids long before they had enlarged brains and began to use stone tools."

I have not read all the articles yet, but as I contemplated this woodland origin of hominids, I thought of the aurochs, the ancestor of modern cattle. Although we raise cattle on open grasslands today, the Extinction Website states that the aurochs "appears to have preferred swamps and swamp woods, like river valleys, river deltas, and different kind of bogs. Beside swamp woods the aurochs shall also have lived in less wet forests." I have understood that this provides one reason cattle so easily damage open ranges compared to bison, i.e. cattle are naturally adapted to woodlands, and are more natural browsers than grazers.

Aurochs and wolves image source: The Extinction Website

The aurochs' range included North Africa, and I don't know if it ever ranged in the area where archaeologists unearthed Ardi (Ethiopia). Nevertheless, my mind went to consider the possibility that the hominid relationships with cattle and wolves (dogs) began in woodlands, not grasslands. Ardi is a fascinating find.