Monthly Archives: January 2011

Reduce Healthcare Expenditures While Preserving Freedom: Dispel the Cholesterol Myth!

I have only recently become concerned with cholesterol. My own cholesterol level has always been low: in the 120’s in my early 20’s; up to 140 or so in recent years. This year it went up quite a bit, relatively speaking — up to 188. But the “good” HDL is nice and high at 69, so my doctor is not concerned.* I have friends, however, who have not been as lucky: their levels have been much higher and their doctors have recommended drastic dietary changes and expensive cholesterol-lowering medications.

Why? Well, supposedly because an elevated cholesterol level — particularly a high level of the “bad” LDL cholesterol — is linked to an increased incidence of heart disease.

The only problem is that the “link” between cholesterol and heart disease is tenuous at best. Information about this can be obtained from numerous resources: In books there are the classic Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage), or the more recent release from Robb Wolf, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet, or the aptly titled The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy That Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease, just to name a few. In terms of blogs, check out this post about the danger and ineffectiveness of cholesterol-lowering statins, as well as this post, which includes a discussion of which tests are actually helpful in detecting indicators of heart disease and the risk thereof. Also be sure to read this article which provides a comprehensive overview of the entire subject, including why cholesterol is good (it preserves mental function, among other things), why statins are bad, and what one can do naturally to reduce inflammation in his body and thereby improve his overall health. In fact, just in putting together all the links I used to write this blog post, I found another recent article here.

If information sources like these are so abundant and easily accessible, then why is it that doctors are reflexively recommending that patients with high cholesterol make drastic dietary changes or — even worse — take expensive prescription medications that are, at the very least, unnecessary and ineffective? I hope to have a better answer to this question when I speak to my own doctor next week. But in the last day I did some rooting around on the Internet and, not surprisingly (to me, anyway), found that our federal government might have something to do with this. Thanks to an e-mail list to which I subscribe, I was referred to this blog post, where I learned about the United States National Cholesterol Education Program. Apparently this government organization takes it upon itself to educate physicians and the general public about the dangers of cholesterol and recommends that individuals maintain an LDL level below 100 — a level that even my own LDL exceeds. Yes, even I of the good cholesterol levels should be on cholesterol-lowering medication, or at least change my diet, if the government has anything to say about it! And people like my friends with higher levels would have no choice; they would be required to go on medication in order to achieve LDL levels that low.

But wait, the story gets worse. It’s bad enough to be told by the government that you should be taking a powerful, potentially dangerous drug to treat a condition that is most likely benign. This is especially true with Obamacare looming on the horizon, which will eventually result in socialized medicine and more mandates about what we can and cannot eat, and what medications we must agree to take in order to obtain our “free” health care. The additional piece of information which makes this whole thing truly outrageous is that, of the 9-member NCEP panel, 8 of them receive “honoraria” from the leading manufacturers of cholesterol-lowering statins. I have no problem with drug manufacturers making tons of money and getting rich from making life-saving drugs. I don’t even have a problem with drug manufacturers making money from drugs they honestly thought would be helpful, but turned out not to be. I do have a problem with our government continuing to urge people who most likely will not benefit from these drugs to go ahead and take them anyway. And I especially have a problem with that if members of the government panel responsible for this are being paid by the drug companies themselves.

Members of a government body, who have significant conflicts of interest, are “educating” our physicians so that they will urge us to cut important nutrients from our diets and to take expensive prescription medications that are unnecessary and most likely harmful. Perhaps we will need to do more than repeal Obamacare in order to eliminate the danger of government “death panels”?

*My cholesterol has increased because I have, for about 9 months, been on a “Paleoish” diet. Click here for a good introduction to the type of approach I have, to a large extent, followed.

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Jumping to Conclusions

We’re still waiting for all the facts about today’s shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Arizona. But that hasn’t stopped liberals in the media from speculating that the “Tea Party” movement is to blame. Even the New York Times, which is supposedly a respected news source and should know better, has a few paragraphs at the end of the first page of this article, trying to link this shooting, by implication, to opposition to Obamacare.

Disgusting.

Leave aside the fact that the same liberals in the media routinely refuse to link acts of terrorism to Islam. The fact is that Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, is the fundamental at the root of the Tea Party movement, its “but-for” cause, whether many conservatives like to acknowledge it or not. Rick Santelli, who, perhaps not intentionally, started the Tea Party with this rant on CNBC, said, “At the end of the day, I’m an Ayn Rander.”

*Atlas Shrugged Spoiler Alert*

And, what did the heroes of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, do to register their protest against the immoral, welfare-state policies of the government in the novel? Did they pull out their guns and start shooting up Congressmen or other politicians and bureaucrats? No, they SHRUGGED. They did not initiate force or engage in violent revolution. They simply withdrew from society, taking their tremendous productive ability with them.

So, if people understand the proper root of the Tea Party movement, which is a political philosophy based on respect for individual rights, a philosophy that condemns the initiation of force in all its forms, they will understand that any attempt to blame a senseless, violent attack on that movement, is absurd.

UPDATE: There are now reports coming in saying that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, is actually more of a communist or fascist, and not a Tea Partier at all. You can see his lovely “videos” on YouTube, here. Even if it does turn out that he self-identifies as a Tea Partier, a fan of Sara Palin, an opponent of Obamacare, etc., etc., my point is that his actions fly in the face of the fundamental philosophical idea at the core of the Tea Party movement: a principled defense of individual rights. (If you go to his YouTube profile, you will see that one of the wide variety of books he lists as favorites is Ayn Rand’s We the Living. *Spoiler* The heroine of that novel didn’t engage in violent uprising against the government, either.)

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California’s Not-So-Happy New Year

I check Drudge Report regularly, because it’s an efficient way to learn about important news stories. I’m not thrilled with his choices at times in terms of freak-show stories, or hyperbolic headlines, but overall I find his site valuable.

I was not pleased at his choice of stories to kick off 2011, however. In particular, he placed at the top of the page, on New Year’s Day, this story, announcing the fact that 725 new laws go into effect in California this year, and briefly describing some of them. (Note that I could not even bring myself to read the article until today. I gather that Drudge lives somewhere in the east, so perhaps he was unaware of the demoralizing effect his headline would have on us Californians. Or maybe he’s a sadist.) Here are a few of the worst pieces of legislation, taken from the article:

AB 119 prevents insurance companies from charging different rates for men and women for identical coverage.

In other words, California is adding insult to injury — i.e., Obamacare — and doing its part to make sure insurance companies cannot profitably do business in our state. If we had a free market in health insurance (hey, a girl can fantasize), the insurance rates for men and women would depend on how much it actually costs to provide health care to each. California politicians have decided that men must subsidize women and, in the process, everyone must pay the extra cost of ensuring compliance with yet another piece of legislation.

SB 782 prevents landlords from evicting tenants who are victims of domestic or sexual abuse or stalking.

Can’t pay your rent this month? Just tell your landlord that you are the victim of domestic or sexual abuse or stalking. I wonder what genius decided that landlords should not only be good property managers, but also savvy social workers.

SB 1317 allows the state to slap parents with a $2,000 fine if their K-8 child misses more than 10 percent of the school year without a valid excuse. It also allows the state to punish parents with up to a year in prison for the misdemeanor.

We want to make sure your kids are properly indoctrinated and conditioned to obey authority. I wonder what constitutes a “valid” excuse and who gets to decide. Probably a new bureaucracy will be necessary. Your tax dollars at work!

Speaking of obeying authority, a Facebook friend of mine recently shared a link to a video by a teen band that calls themselves “X-TReMe PoWeR.” The song was called “Respect & Obey Authority,” and, while the “band” has now closed down their YouTube account, so that the link to the video no longer works, the description of the video has been preserved for all eternity on my friend’s Facebook page: “This is West Coast Believers Kid’s band called X-TReMe PoWeR. It was our second song and we made up the lyrics and put it all together through garage band. It’s all about respecting and obeying your teachers, your parents, and Jesus! Hope you like this one too!”

Yes, I watched the video — the entire video — so I can vouch for the fact that it existed and was just as described above. Worse, in fact. And if you don’t believe me, I refer you to this “visual review” over at Salon.com. Those kids obviously were not missing too much school.

UPDATE: I managed to find the video! Someone I guess downloaded it and reposted in on YouTube. See it here, before this one’s taken down, too.

AB 715 makes a change to the California Green Building Standards code. The change will require new California buildings to be energy efficient.

Because we don’t need any stinking new buildings in California anyway. We like the old ones just fine, and we don’t mind if we drive even more business out of the state, either.

AB 97 bans the use of trans-fats in food facilities.

Ha! We beat New York! In New York the trans-fat ban applied to a mere city. We got the ENTIRE STATE bending to our politicians’ culinary dictates.

There is one piece of legislation that appears to be a step in the right direction (towards more freedom):

SB 1449 makes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana an infraction with a penalty of a $100 fine.

No more going to jail for possessing small amounts of marijuana. It’s the least the politicians could do, because, between all the new legislation, plus the fact that we are now going to have Gerry Brown as our governor, marijuana could come in handy to ease Californians’ pain. That or a stiff drink.

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