Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Diagnosing America's Health Care Illness

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Diagnosing America's Health Care Illness
By Jacob Hornberger 03/31/2010

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
He is a regular writer for The Future of Freedom Foundation's publication,
Freedom Daily, and is a co-editor or contributor to the eight books that have been
published by the Foundation. Visit his blog.

Ludwig von Mises pointed out that one government intervention inevitably leads to more interventions in order to address the crises that are generated by the previous interventions. Ultimately, Mises said, the crises continue getting so bad that the government ends up taking over the entire sector.

That principle perfectly describes the area of health care.

The United States once had the finest health-care system in the world, one based on the principles of economic liberty and the free market. That changed in a big way in 1965, when liberal statist Lyndon Baines Johnson secured passage of Medicare and Medicaid, socialistic programs that provided "free" medical care for the poor and elderly.

What Medicare and Medicaid did, decade after decade, was to place an inordinate demand on health care, producing a concomitant rise in prices all across the board. When government makes things "free," people tend to over-consume, which causes prices to go up.

Meanwhile, as the demand for health care continued to rise, the supply of health care remained constricted, thanks to medical-licensure laws, which protect people in the health-care industry from an oversupply of health-care competitors.

So, here was a prescription for disaster: Soaring demand brought about by "free"
government-provided health care and restrictive supply brought about by medical-licensure laws.

As the decades went by, the price of health care began soaring, producing all sorts of distortions in health care to which suppliers, consumers, and insurers were constantly trying to adjust.

Aggravating the situation were such things as state regulations that attempted to protect intra-state insurance companies from interstate competition as well as income-tax manipulation that encouraged employers to purchase health-care insurance for their employees.

Slowly but surely, Americans became dependent on the welfarism and regulation. This included doctors and other health-care providers. It got to the point that many patients and many physicians just could not imagine life without the dole, without their beloved Medicare and Medicaid payments from the government.

Thus, as the health crisis continued to mount, most everyone's position became the following: "Medicare and Medicaid, medical licensure, income-tax manipulation, and insurance regulation must be left intact. Now, what is your solution to the health-care crisis?"

In other words, the entire health-care debate was oriented toward coming up with a plan that reformed and saved the health-care socialism and interventionism that was at the root cause of the problem.

That's inane.

Notice that many of the statist commentators are already saying that the Obama health-care plan is just a "first step." Much more needs to be done, they say. The reason they're saying that is because they know that Obama's plan won't fix anything. Instead, this latest intervention will simply produce a bigger crisis down the road, at which point the statists will call for the inevitable: a total government takeover of health care, just like in Cuba.

That's the point that Mises was making -- that interventions lead to more interventions, until government ends up owning or controlling that sector of the economy.

When a patient suffering an illness goes to the doctor, he hopes to receive a correct diagnosis of what ails him, because the prescription will inevitably turn on the diagnosis. Get the diagnosis correct, and there's a good chance the doctor will issue the right prescription. But get the diagnosis wrong, and there's a good chance that the prescription will be wrong.

The problem with health care is that all too many people have meekly and submissively accepted the diagnosis of a bunch of statist quacks, people whose deep devotion to socialism and interventionism blinds them as to the true cause of America's health-care crisis. Their diagnosis of the quacks is that America's health-care illness is due to freedom and free enterprise and that Medicare, Medicaid, licensure, income-tax manipulation, and regulation have nothing to do with it. Thus, their prescription for America's health-care woes is -- surprise, surprise -- more socialism and interventionism.

What is the correct diagnosis for America's health-care illness? America's health-care system is sick because of the steady dose of poison that has been fed into the body politic for decades by the statists, in the form of Medicare, Medicaid, licensure, income-tax manipulation, and regulation.

What is the correct prescription? Immediate radical surgery, entailing the immediate repeal (not reform) of Medicare, Medicaid, medical licensure, income-tax manipulation, and insurance regulation. Nothing else will work.

Statism or economic liberty? That's the choice facing the patient.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email Page 2/2

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Roasted Cabbage Wedges

New to the pile last week, from Everyday Food.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a cookie sheet with olive oil. Place 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds [think flat like pancakes], in a single layer on sheet and brush with olive oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Sprinkle with 1 tsp caraway or fennel seeds. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40-45 minutes. Serves 6.

It was all gone before I remembered about picture taking.

I didn't have caraway or fennel seeds so I left those out. My family wouldn't have liked them anyway. Amy really liked it. Dh didn't say much other than they were kind of plain (which is probably why Amy liked it). I thought it was ok, good with butter on top which I added to mine. I'll probably make this recipe again and try some different spices.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Foto Friday

Foto Friday IMG_2488

I discovered another "Friday" blog challenge or whatever you want to call it. Over at Renaissance she's got a weekly photo challenge. This week's subject was "Spring" and since we had snow it was more interesting.

I've been wanting to post about our dog, Sadie, for a couple weeks now, so this was a good opportunity.

I've always known she liked winter. The first winter we had her she loved romping around in the snow. We had to make her go inside because she started licking her paws to get the ice crystals free. Every winter when I let her out to do her business she'll just go lay in the snow either on the deck or in the yard, no matter how deep. Click here to see a picture. This year I made the observation that once it got warmer she'd go out and come right back in when she was finished, no lying around. Last night we got some snow, enough to cover the deck with a good coat. So here's Sadie basking in the sun, winter style, in the spring.


A dog who loves winter, a dog after my own heart. :)

The two-year shawl


This week I finally finished the knitted shawl I started about two years ago.




I did this whole thing by knitting for about 30 minutes a day while Amy was reading aloud to me during school. It's somewhere near 66 inches long and about 15 inches wide. And, yes, I'm glad to have it done (just in time for spring). It's pretty warm, so I'll be enjoying it on cool days.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Return of Racism

The following is from the book Are You Liberal, Conservative or Confused? By Richard Maybury. In the chapter The Return of Racism he included an article he wrote in 1994.

"Recently I visited Orange County in Southern California. Didn't see any orange groves but did see two vacant lots. In Southern California these qualify as wilderness.

The occasion was my 30th high school reunion. It was great to see old friends but also sad. Things have changed, and not for the better. The old high school is a maze of fences and walls. I've seen prisons and military bases that were less heavily fortified. The night before the reunion someone torched the administration building. In our day this was every kid's fantasy, now they actually do it. No self-restraint. Rotten apples galore. Barbarism.

At the reunion, gazing across this crowd of some 400 middle-aged baby boomers, I was struck by how much progress America has lost.

This graduating class was of all colors. There, in Orange County in the mid-1960s, centuries of racism had been thrown into full retreat.

I'm white, and one of my good friends was black; the best man at my wedding was Mexican. Such interracial friendships were typical in this group.

At my wife's school nearby in 1964, the kids had elected a home coming queen who was white and a home coming king who was black. The parents went ballistic while the kids stood around wondering what all the shouting was about.

There, in those days, skin color was close to becoming just one more physical characteristic of no particular importance.

American law was becoming color blind.

The cause was our parents. Many in that generation were bigoted but they didn't feel good about it. Teachers, legal scholars, and, above all the churches continually reminded them that bigotry was evil.

My parents' generation didn't change much but, for the most part, they raised their kids differently. Our graduating class was one of the first to show the results. We did not know it at the time, but we were the vanguard of a new era. The African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American were on the way to being as accepted as the Irish-American and all others who had come before. I am entirely certain that if this natural progress had been allowed to continue, today in America there would be no racism except in a few isolated pockets.

But along came the government with its "affirmative action" in the 1970s and blew it all right out of the water. Suddenly my generation was forced to be aware of skin color.

The law was no longer color blind.

Today, race riots have demolished large parts of southern California and more are surely coming. Political power corrupts all it touches.

'Every time the government attempts to handle out affairs, it costs more and the results are worse than if we had handled them ourselves.' --Benjamin Constant, 1818."

This article is entirely appropriate the day after Congress abused its role once again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Puzzles 58-60




To view any pictures on my blog in full size you may click on each picture. You may also see lots of other pictures here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Does Cholesterol Really Matter?

I know I posted about this before, but it's good to be reminded about it in order to gain another perspective from what mainstream medicine tells us.

Does Cholesterol Really Matter?
by Dr. Julian Whitaker

(NaturalNews) I'd like to shine the spotlight on one of medicine's sacred cows- the belief that lowering cholesterol with drugs protects against heart attacks and premature death. Our obsession with cholesterol began in the 1950s when studies linked high consumption of animal fat with high rates of heart disease. This opened the door for clinical trials that laid the foundation of a new paradigm: the cholesterol theory of cardiovascular disease.

This theory has had profound ramifications. It changed the way we eat (fats bad, carbohydrates good) and contributed to our problems with obesity and diabetes. It wormed its way into "clinical practice guidelines"- cholesterol management has become a "standard of care" that doctors are expected to follow. It spawned the invasive heart surgery industry, based on the presumption that cholesterol-laden blockages must be bypassed or propped open. And it led to the creation of the best-selling class of medications in history: cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which generate more than $15 billion in worldwide sales every year.

But it's all a house of cards. No matter what you've been led to believe, a high cholesterol level is not a reliable sign of an impending heart attack. In fact, growing numbers of experts question whether cholesterol matters at all. As for statin drugs, for most of the 40-plus million Americans recommended to take them for the rest of their lives, they're an ineffective, expensive, side effect- riddled fraud.

Statin-Free Zone
When a patient taking Lipitor, Zocor, or another statin drug comes to Whitaker Wellness, we discontinue it at once. "But my cholesterol level is 240." "My doctor told me I'll have a heart attack if I don't take this drug."My father died of heart disease, so I have to take it." I've heard all these justifications and more, and I still recommend that my patients get off statins. Here's why.

First, they're not very effective. These drugs do lower cholesterol, but so what? We're not treating lab numbers. We're treating patients, and the ultimate goal in cholesterol management is to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Except for a very limited number of people, there is absolutely no evidence that statins protect against heart attack or premature death.

Are you over age 65? Not a single study suggests you'll receive any benefits, even if your cholesterol goes down substantially. A woman of any age? Same story. A man younger than 65 who has never had a heart attack? Ditto, no help at all. For middle-aged men who have had a heart attack, statins may lower risk of a repeat heart attack, but that's the extent of it.

I know this is hard to buy in light of the multiple drug advertisements and glowing endorsements from doctors. But keep in mind that pharmaceutical companies do a superb job of pulling the wool over the eyes of consumers and physicians alike by withholding unfavorable study results and making false, misleading, and often deceptive claims.

A Statistic We Can Understand
That's why I want to step around confusing statistics and tell you about an easy-to-understand measure that you'll never hear about in drug ads. It's called "number needed to treat," or NNT, and it describes the number of patients who would need to be treated with a medical therapy in order to prevent one bad outcome. Experts consider an NNT over 50 to be "worse than a lottery ticket."

Lipitor ads claim that it reduces risk of heart attack by 36 percent. Sounds pretty good until you look at the fine print, do the math (which John Carey did in a great article in Business Week), and figure out that the drug's NNT is 100. This means that 100 people must be treated with Lipitor in order for just one heart attack to be prevented. The other 99 people taking the drug receive no benefit.

To put this into perspective, the NNT of antibiotics for treating H. pylori, the underlying cause of stomach ulcers, is 1.1. These drugs knock out the bacteria in 10 out of 11 people who take it, making them a reliable, cost-effective therapy. At the other end of the spectrum are statins, which as a class have an NNT of 250, 500, or higher depending on the study you look at. What a deal for drugs that can cost more than a thousand bucks a year and are almost guaranteed to cause problems.

Goodbye Drugs, So Long Symptoms
Statins lower cholesterol by suppressing the activity of an enzyme in the liver involved in the production of cholesterol. But this enzyme has multiple functions, including the synthesis of coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is a key player in the metabolic processes that energize our cells. No wonder statin users often suffer from fatigue, muscle pain and weakness, and even heart failure- the cells are simply running out of juice.

The second most frequent adverse effects of statins are problems with memory, mood, suicidal behavior, and neurological issues. Other common complaints include sexual dysfunction, and liver and digestive problems. Symptoms range from minor (achiness, forgetfulness) to serious (complete but temporary amnesia, permanent memory loss) to lethal (congestive heart failure, rhabdomyolysis or complete muscle breakdown). One statin drug, Baycol, was taken off the market a few years ago after it caused dozens of deaths from rhabdomyolysis. Several studies have also linked statin drugs with an increased risk of cancer.

Because physicians rarely warn of these side effects, few patients suspect their drugs may be the reason they begin feeling bad- and it's often a revelation when they put two and two together. Simply discontinuing these medications can result in tremendous improvements in health and well-being. Texas cardiologist Peter Langsjoen, MD, published a study showing that when symptomatic patients got off their statins and started taking 240 mg of CoQ10 per day, they had significant decreases in fatigue, myalgias (muscle aches), dyspnea (shortness of breath), memory loss, and/or peripheral neuropathy.

Not a Drug But a Program
As you can see, we need to shift away from this myopic focus on statin drugs and lowering cholesterol, and take a more holistic view. Folks, you don't need statins- you need a program that addresses all the known risk factors for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders.

Inflammation, not high cholesterol, is the primary cause of heart disease. Harvard researchers have discovered that a high blood level of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, is more predictive of heart disease than cholesterol. To get a handle on inflammation, lose weight- especially if you carry excess fat in the abdominal area. Exercise. Stop smoking. Eat plenty of vegetables and several weekly servings of salmon, sardines, and other omega-3 fatty acids, and avoid sugars and starches.

The beauty of this program is that it targets not only inflammation but other conditions that contribute to cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes, even cholesterol. Best of all, it's a foundation for overall good health.

Necessary Nutrients
Your program should include a well-rounded nutritional supplement regimen, as well. My number-one suggestion for inflammation in all its guises is fish oil. This supplement also improves blood flow, discourages excess clotting, helps normalize heart rhythm, and saves lives by reducing risk of sudden cardiac death.

Folic acid and other B-complex vitamins are important because they lower levels of homocysteine, a toxic substance that damages the arteries. The mineral magnesium relaxes the arterial walls, which improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and helps prevent arrhythmias. And antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, provide protection against damaging free radicals- another contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Supplements that boost the heart's energy are recommended as well. One is coenzyme Q10. In addition to serving as a potent antioxidant, CoQ10 also increases the heart muscle's efficiency and protects against the adverse effects of statin drugs. Another is D-ribose, a natural sugar that is the structural backbone of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy that fuels cellular function.

Don't Fret About Cholesterol
As far as cholesterol lowering is concerned, there are a number of natural therapies that work well, including flaxseed and other sources of fiber, niacin, plant sterols, and policosanol.

In short, do what you can to manage your cholesterol, but don't worry about it if your level is particularly stubborn. The average cholesterol of people who have heart disease isn't much higher than the level of those who don't. If high cholesterol runs in your family, concentrate on what you can control, and remember, numbers aren't everything.

Here are suggested daily doses of the supplements discussed above: fish oil 2-8 g, folic acid 800-1,200 mcg, magnesium 500-1,000 mg, vitamins C 1,000-5,000 mg, and E 400-800 IU, CoQ10 100-400 mg, D-ribose 10-15 g, flaxseed 1/4 cup, niacin 500-2,000 mg, plant sterols 1,500-2,000 mg, and policosanol 20 mg. Look for these supplements in your health food store or order them by calling (800) 810-6655.

* Discuss this information with your doctor. If you are interested in learning about the protocol we use at the Whitaker Wellness Institute to prevent and treat heart disease, visit or call (800) 488-1500. To locate a physician in your area familiar with drug-free therapies, visit

Carey J. Do cholesterol drugs do any good? Business Week. 2008 Jan 17. Available online at

Langsjoen PH, et al. Treatment of statin adverse effects with supplemental coenzyme Q10 and statin drug discontinuation. Biofactors. 2005;25(1-4):147-152.

Marchioli R, et al. Early protection against sudden death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2002 Apr 23;105(16):1897-1903.

Ravnskov U. The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease. New Trends Publishing, Washington, DC, 2000.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The deck snow

Here's the deepest the snow got on our deck this winter. I'm pretty sure it hasn't been that deep since we've lived here, but I don't have pictures to prove it and we haven't always had the picnic tables the entire time either.


Here was the last little bit which disappeared completely with the warm weather this week.


Now it's just wet with rain.

Krider's Red-tailed hawk


We had another "get the camera" moment this afternoon. Amy was standing at the kitchen sink when she saw this guy in the bush. I don't think we've ever seen a Krider's red-tailed hawk here before, at least not so close. Usually when we see a hawk its gone before we can get the binoculars or the camera, but this one stayed a good while.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sew Crafty Friday

It's back. Shereen has started doing Sew Crafty Friday again. Check out her blog here.

Here's my latest quilt top. Now it's time to start quilting again. I've several tops ready. The one I'd planned on hand quilting is just not happening. I've pretty much decided to take out the quilting I've already done and stipple the whole thing by machine. Instead of taking two years to be done it'll only take two days.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pillow cases


I made these to go with the quilt for our bed. The green is a little off from the greens in the quilt, but not enough to redo them. I've got fabric left over from the quilt itself to make non-flannel ones for warmer weather.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Puzzle #57


This one went together very quickly. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On the Road to Spring quilt-along week 6

Week 6 was the binding. The first step is cutting 2 1/2 inch strips the width of the fabric. Then sew them together either end to end or diagonally. I'm not going to try to explain that. Here's a great tutorial. So now I've got a really long piece of binding. Iron it in half, sew it to the right side of the quilt with raw edges even. See tutorial for what you do when you get to the corners. Once its on then I fold it over to the back and hand sew it in place.

Here's the finished quilt for the quilt-along.


Friday, March 5, 2010


I noticed that Jane Austen's Emma was going to be at The Cleveland Playhouse. Amy & I love that story, so I thought I'd take her next weekend. I started looking into getting tickets and discovered they started at $45 each with an additional $5 for fees. I had permission from dh to spend that much, but that added up to $100 plus $8 for parking! So I started looking around the website for possible discounts when I remembered that they do student performances. On Monday I called about that and found out that the show date I wanted for next week was full, but we could go this week. The cost per ticket was $10 and free parking!

The student performances are in the morning which meant getting up way earlier than normal. But after seeing the performance we both said it was worth it. We had such an enjoyable morning. We even went to lunch afterwards.