Thursday, June 18, 2009
This morning I hauled my sleepy butt out of bed at 5:15am for a 6:00am spin class, “Terrible Thursday”. Why? Take your pick, weight management, cardio-endurance, endorphins - whatever. It really does not matter; I just do it four times a week, come hell or high-water.
The exact plea that lent the title of this post was, “But personal responsibility aside, absence of adequate health care is crucial.” The words came from Mary Frances Berry, in an article for Essence Magazine entitled “What Obama’s Health Care Reform Means for Black America” (here). Who would argue that adequate health care is not crucial? Only a calloused idiot, which I believe I’m not. On the other hand, I wonder how personal responsibility can exist as an ‘aside’ in the discussion.
It seems to me that responsibility is the heart of the health care issue. Our entire health care system, including all its woes, is predicated upon people abdicating their personal responsibility to their health. If it taste good, eat it. To her credit, Professor Berry acknowledges in her argument that blacks exercise less than whites, seek out grease, starch, and sugary foods even when income makes this avoidable. She goes on to talk about how blacks suffer hypertension, strokes, and other maladies at disproportionate rates to whites. But in between her cause and effect offering, Berry slips in the personal responsibility aside escape-clause. Not so fast professor!
Me thinks that the cart has been placed ahead of the horse. I contend that a health care system that demands that people are their own first and best line of offense in taking healthy care of themselves would cost nickels and dimes against today’s borrowed dollars. The prevalent emergency room treatment Berry speaks of, among the under/uninsured, is the absolute most expensive/least effective way to delivery health care. Astonishing ER expense is just the logical end-point of a health behavior mentality/system wholly derailed.
We treat our bodies like crap from the earliest age and then look for the government to deliver a humane and affordable, or free, ‘get out of bad-health jail’ solution. Slight-of-hand arguments, like Professor Berry’s, put willing politicians and our empty pocketbooks on the bailout hook. This can’t go on! There is no reform for a system that is morally, ethically, scientifically, and economically bankrupt. It must be dismantled and rebuilt. We are now trying to reform a system that spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year searching for and delivering responses for avoidable ailments. As a start, smart people, like Berry, should begin by not using those words ‘personal responsibility aside’.
James C. Collier
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