Most people want to believe that their government is there to protect them from harm. Throw in the conditioning to trust authority which begins and continues throughout the State sponsored “free” education system and trust in the government is a conditioned a response for a good many of us.
Isn’t Our Health Our Responsibility?
So, how can I make a statement like the title above? How could the government possibly contribute to creating a disease as terrible as diabetes and an epidemic level of obesity? I mean, isn’t that the responsibility of each individual? Aren’t we primarily responsible for our own level of health?
Well, ultimately the answer to that question would be yes. On the other hand. are we really actually encouraged to take responsibility for our health or is there an emphasis on using the health care system instead of our own individual selections?
Well, I think Obamacare pretty much answers that question. After all, the Federal government now has made it illegal to not participate in the chemically driven, surgically oriented modern medical system.
A system that encourages dependence on “experts” not ourselves. A system that dispenses expensive chemicals as an answer from a simple headache or common cold to Cancer, Heart Disease or Diabetes. A system that is very costly and has morphed into the most costly system ever in the history of the planet while failing to provide effective solutions to deadly diseases like the three mentioned above.
Enter the Dragon
So why all this involvement in our health care system from the Federal government? Is it really in the interests of the public or in the interests of vested interests? Could the medical monopoly that Obamacare promotes be tied in with the medical monopoly of Big Pharma and major insurance firms? I think most of us can see this connection without too much forethought. However, could there also be another more insidious factor operating here? One hidden behind the scenes and never brought to light? A dragon like Smaug of The Hobbit, hidden in a lair protecting his treasure? A dragon named King Corn?
King Corn is the name of a documentary made a few years ago by two recent college graduates who wanted to find out about how we eat. They started out with a hair analysis and were told that most of their body was made from corn. Corn? What the…? The remainder of the film follows the two college buddies, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, as they set out to learn more about corn—how it’s grown, and how it ends up in so many of our foods.
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They do so by moving from Boston to Iowa and making arrangements to grow an acre of corn they rent from a local farmer. (Turns out they both had relatives from 3 generations back that were from the same town in Iowa they used in the film. Something neither had known when they became friends.) The film traces each step of corn growth and fills in the blanks along the way.
What King Corn Tells Us
First of all, we learn that without government subsidies corn farmers would lose money. Ian and Curt find this out in the end when their $28 subsidy takes them from loss to profit. They also discover other subsidies they never even knew about as well. In fact, Ian and Curt tell us:
- Over the past 15 years, taxpayers have paid corn farmers more than $77 billion in subsidies
- More than 75 percent of farm subsidies are paid to a mere 10 percent of America’s farmers
- Since the late 1970s, the real price of fruits and vegetables have risen by 30 percent, while the price for soda has decreased by 34 percent
Now, why has soda gone down while fruits and vegetables have risen? The answer- HFCS or high fructose corn syrup from the gigantic excesses of corn made possible by government subsidy as noted in the film. So, what impact has this had on our society. A report from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition entitled “Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome” concludes:
In terms of feedback to the CNS regarding energy status in peripheral tissues, fructose consumption results in decreased production and, therefore, decreased signaling to the CNS from 2 hormones (leptin and insulin) involved in the long-term regulation of energy homeostasis and body adiposity. The same observation applies to dietary fat. Thus, the long-term consumption of diets high in fat and fructose is likely to lead to increased energy intake, weight gain, and obesity. The potential for weight gain from increased fructose consumption may only represent one aspect of its metabolic consequences.
While the potential for weight gain is one aspect, the film covers another.
A Brooklyn cab driver was interviewed who said he lost a third of his over 300 lbs. just by stopping the consumption of HFCS sweetened soda! The Hispanic driver goes on to relate a list of relatives in his family lost to diabetes, including his father.
A subsequent interview at a local clinic in Brooklyn reveals that low cost, fast food among the community (much of it made possible by subsidized cheap corn) is a big contributor to the diabetes epidemic particularly in low income communities.
Apples to Twinkies
According to a report by the U.S. Public Information Research Group (U.S. PIRG) entitled Apples to Twinkies:
At a time when America faces high obesity rates and tough federal budget choices, taxpayer dollars are funding the production of junk food ingredients. Since 1995, the government has spent $292.5 billion on agricultural subsidies, $19.2 billion of which have subsidized corn- and soy-derived junk food ingredients.
And what are the impacts of these government subsidies?
- In 2013, taxpayers spent $84.4 billion on corn production, $8.1 billion of which funded production of corn starch and sweeteners.
- The subsidies are directed towards the very largest commercial farms with 62% of the farmers receiving no subsidy at all.
- Over 31 percent of the adolescent population is now overweight or obese with estimates of obesity-related medical costs reaching $150 billion per year.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one of the primary recommendations in conditions of pre-diabetes is to lose weight.
Another Unacknowledged Impact
Our Federal subsidies while lowering our cost of corn has virtually destroyed the Mexican corn market. An article written by the Acton Institute notes:
The 2003 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deregulated all agricultural trade, except for corn and dairy products. The Mexican government complains that since NAFTA’s initial implementation in 1994, the United States has raised farm subsidies by 300 percent. As a result, Mexican corn farmers, who comprise the majority of the country’s agricultural sector, experienced drastic declines in the domestic price of their product. It should come as no surprise, then, that the United States began to experience an influx of Mexicans looking for employment in the latter half of the 1990s.
Of course, there are other factors influencing immigration but corn farming which once was important in Mexico is now a shell of what it once was. Once known for their wide variety of corn as noted by the film corn varieties have been reduced markedly to primarily yellow dent high in starch and low in protein.
But Wait There’s More
Additionally, the corn used in production from government subsidy is almost entirely the GMO variety engineered to accept toxic pesticides. Pesticides which end up in our food chain and our bodies. Now, they are discovering that this GMO corn while resistant to pesticides is not strong enough to resist pests.
Corn grown on soil that is artificially fertilized also lacks the minerals found in organic soils. If the minerals are not in the soil, they will not be in the plant and ultimately our bodies. Minerals that are important catalysts for metabolic actions and important to our long term health.
So, is government a contributor to our epidemic of obesity, diabetes and poor health as noted in my title? Personally, I think the facts speak for themselves.
The collusion of government and Corporate interests is clear. Subsidies go primarily to Agribusiness, the largest Corporate owned farms. Corn is grown from taxpayer money for profit not health. The end result is an excess of cheap corn that makes profitable but damaging sweeteners that are heavily marketed to the population with slick commercials with the only motive being profit.
Is Cheap Corn Really Cheap?
Of course, ignored in all of this is the fact that the corn is not nearly as cheap as the market price reflects. It is only cheap because the government subsidizes it which we all pay for through increased taxation and the insidiously hidden tax of inflation caused by the growth of government debt from the increased money supply of money from nothing.
So while the corn is cheap, the money used to subsidize it (over a quarter of a Trillion $ in the last 2 decades for all agricultural subsidies) has inflated the dollar by lowering its purchasing power.
Additionally, the health of the American public suffers as obesity, diabetes and other diseases rise. Not to worry. Now, we have all been forced into a system of expensive health care pushing the products of a minority of pharmaceutical firms with steadily rising costs.
Cheap corn, not what it is cracked up to be? I think so.
Oh, and one last thing. Are government subsidies for private businesses Constitutional? I think not.