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Opting out of the System

 For the first half of the last century the Tobacco Industry pretty much had a clear run of things, and what a fantastic business model it was. Tobacco is relatively cheap to produce; it grows in the ground.

It requires very little processing to turn it into a product that is highly addictive; ensuring once a person is hooked they will buy the product for the rest of their somewhat shortened life.

There was a time when doctors would recommend their patients smoke; it calms the nerves, menthol cigarettes help congestion, etc., etc. Even Tour de France riders smoked at one time, they were told it helped open up the lungs. (Picture top.)

Through the Great Depression of the 1930s the Tobacco Industry did just fine; people had to have their cigarettes, they were addicted. I’m sure in many cases cigarettes came before food.

Everything began to change in the mid 1950s when the medical profession linked smoking with lung cancer and other ailments. Since that time the Tobacco Industry has declined very slowly; it is still the same fantastic business model it always was, just not on the same scale.

So what replaced the Tobacco Companies as industry giants? The Pharmaceutical Industry; the Drug Companies. The Drug Company’s business model has so many similarities to that of the Tobacco Industry.

Drug Companies tell us they spend billions on research, but once a new drug is approved it costs pennies to produce and the sky is the limit for what they can charge for it. One tiny pill can sell for more than the cost of a whole carton of cigarettes.  

Pharmaceutical Companies do not cure diseases; there is no profit in curing things. They produce drugs that control symptoms. Like the tobacco companies before them, this ensures the consumer has to buy the product for the rest of their life.

Just as some will go without food to pay for cigarettes; some elderly people have to choose between food and medication.

It was the medical profession that brought down the tobacco industry, the drug companies will not make that mistake; they have the medical profession onboard as part of their plan.

I feel doctors and hospitals should be allowed to make a fair return for the service they provide. But it seems morally wrong to me that people’s health should be run as a multi-billion dollar industry. We have the medical profession, the drug companies, and now the insurance companies all taking their slice of the pie.

For fifty or more years people were told smoking cigarettes was a good thing; now we know different. Will it be another fifty years before someone tells us our whole health care system is wrong. I can’t wait that long; so I am doing my best to opt out now.

I grew up in the 1940s and 1950s when everyone smoked tobacco; I chose not to. Today I choose not to pay these ridiculous prices for a medication that will not cure me, and can possibly harm me.

My health plan is simple… To avoid getting sick if I possibly can. I am doing this by exercising (Riding my bike regularly.) and eating a healthy diet.

The other part of my plan is to avoid taking any medication as long as possible; preferably never. When a medication is advertised on TV, the long list of side effects they read off as a disclaimer leaves me wondering if the cure is not more deadly than the ailment.

This is not advice; I do not have any qualifications to give advice. It is simply an opinion; feel free to weigh in with yours.



Reader Comments (18)

I would add the food/agribusiness to that list too...
I don't thing the human system is intended to process the garbage that is sold as food today.

I firmly believe that a healthy diet is made up of minimally processed foods.


November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter2whls3spds

I would agree. Processed food is also made addictive; try eating just one potato or tortilla chip.

November 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

"If you don't take our drug you're going to die," sayeth the drug companies. Of course they fail to mention that if you eat breakfast you're going to die too - eventually. Timing is everything here.

America spends twice as much as other nations to get similar medical care. I suspect if we really tore into the books of the insurance companies we'd likely learn that's because fifty cents of every premium dollar is going to profit. Half of the money we give those crummy, medicine / treatment dispensing turkeys is going into their pockets.

Some day we might figure this out - as soon as we get the money out of politics - which means it won't be in our lifetimes.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

Yup, you nailed it - the single point at which US health care fails us the most - prevention. Ride your bike. Eat healthy. Live an active and low stress life.

Doesn't seem that hard, does it?

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRog

And now we have health care being touted as a "right" and the government will force you to participate while leveraging a "tax". Power and control is as addictive to some as nicotine, codeine or cocaine.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSJX426

Well said, Dave.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

The vast majority of the maladies that we need to treat with pharmaceuticals are life style related problems. COPD and lung cancer:nicotine,tar (smoking)etc. Heart disease, strokes peripheral vascular disease even diabetes;smoking, eating poorly and excessively, lack of exercise, overly stressful life. Now Obesity is being linked to all these and certain cancers.
Physicians are caught behind the biggest controller of all, NOT big Pharmacia but advertising, capitalism, thought bending marketing. Our culture is the biggest albeit not the only one that everybody else profits from.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarkd

Profits first, people second.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Although it isn't a bad plan and a reasonable choice, not so sure the correlation you lay out is causation.

My wife, who is both a physician and a Type I diabetic, quite simply, would die without insulin injections.

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKirk

I have NEVER smoked! My Dad(GOD bless him) was a chain smoker Wills Woodbines and Players the house STUNK! I was glad to get out and ride my bike.Mom and my sis Joan NEVER smoked but in those day the 40s and 50s it seemed veryone smoked. When I now go back to England my sis Joan now smokes like Dad did! Her house STINKS My wife Marcia and I hate staying there and have every window open when we do. In my second life as a muscian I played in pubs all over Brum, rooms full of smoke,second hand smoke they now call it, but I survived. Now under Obamcare at my age 80 I will NOT get any treatment, if I can even get into see a DR, So all I can do now is TRY and stay heathy by RIDING MY BIKE and eating the right stuff. I do agree that the pill companys with the adds on the telly try to put the fear of God into everyone and I would very carefull what I take and READ the problems that you can have taking half the stuff, The problems are often worse that the thing you are taking the pills for!

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

I spent most of my career as an engineer in the medical industry: part of that in pharmaceuticals. My belief is that if you want a drug seller to care about your wellbeing you need to look for the guy selling crack. The pharma industry only cares about your wallet. Check out the drug adds in the medical journals: "Don't let her suffer empty nest syndrome: Valium."

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterredtaildd

Great post Dave. I am am a chiropractor and have preached what you wrote so eloquently, for years. Better to stay well than get sick. I have a bunch of videos on how to stay healthy using exercise, herbs homeopathics, and more, you might want to see (

You may not remember, but I had a Fuso that you commented on that you liked the way it was set up. It's the red one you have now! (You got it from one if my bob buddies).

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark Rosenberg, DC

Unfortunately I was recently diagnosed with a genetic defect in which my body produces almost no good cholesterol, so the unchecked bad cholesterol has slowly been clogging my arteries to the point where I recently had to have three stents put into my coronary arteries (I am only 51 years old). I ride my bicycle almost 100 miles a week and only found out about my health crisis due to the extreme "heartburn" I suddenly began to experience when riding. I am now on cholesterol medication for the rest of my life even though I exercise regularily and take good care of myself. I hate taking (and paying through the nose for) pills but it is either that or have my arteries clog up completely. I certainly agree with you, Dave - exercise and a healthy diet is a good way to avoid having to pay outrageous prices for medicines that may do more harm than good in the long run- but as my cardiologist told me, "You can't lifestyle away genetics".....

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRandy England

Hi Dave,

For many of us what you prescribe is common sense, and there is now enough information being broadcast on our tellys' (certainly up here in Canada) that there should be very few reasons why one should not be taking charge of one's health, and staying as far away from any meds. as possible, unless it's a necessity. However, on today's noon news were reports of folks stocking up on twinkies, and a 41 year old chap, supposed to be a fitness freak now on medication for the rest of his life after suffering a heart attack due to overconsumption of energy drinks.

I often wonder, if those of us that take care of ourselves using the basics are that smart, or are the twinkie and related liefstyle hordes that dumb and just make the healthier minority look good.

I live in a retirement community on Vancouver Island amidst recreational eaters and couch surfers where diet and exercise is a foreign language. Not a clue about pulse rates or the difference between aerobics or anaerobics, but right up to speed on their latest date for bloodwork and the next meal. Big pharma love 'em. Obesity in North America, what big business and dependant politicians dreams are made of.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeith British Columbia

I just watched an excelent documentary on Netflix called Food Matters. It takes a look at how the food we eat is helping or hurting our health, and what we can do to live (and eat) better.
If you don't have Netflix you can find out more here

November 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I will add one final note re Meds, I do have an enlarged prostate, Dr says could be from all the miles I have ridden on my bike. When I had my right hip replaced the Op did cause some problems and I had a cathater in for a couple of weeks, WELL now, I do have to take Avodart for the prostate, It seems to do the trick but plays hell with my sex (WHATS THAT?) life. The Dr informed me that in days of youre there was not much that could be done and chaps died from this problem. I do remember my Grandad sitting in his chair smoking his pipe with a wet stain on his pants, BUT he lived to be 90 so who knows. anyway every other days I take a pill and so far OK no wet pants. Before the pills I did have the urge to go and sometimes a problem. No sex, well at 80? I get my kicks riding my bike

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

Without going into details (as I don't want to drag this off in an unpleasant direction), I just point out that

a) Nearly everyone agrees that "doctors and hospitals should be allowed to make a fair return for the service they provide". The difficulty lies in deciding what that is, or in deciding how it should be decided.

and b) no matter what health system you come up with, someone is sure to find it morally wrong.

I ride my bike, in the hope that I will still be riding it a good long time from now. But I take my daily "lifestyle" pill, too.

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric

You're so right Dave! Articles about healthier lifestyles seem to have blossomed recently too.

If you want to learn more about how the drug companies lie to us, Ben Golacre's new book 'Bad Pharma' is excellent. Although I think things are worse for you in the US, at least in the UK we have the NHS and a ban on advertising pharmaceuticals. We also have NICE (the closest parallel to the 'nazi death panels' that surfaced in the Obamacare debates) which guarantees that treatments available on the NHS are evidence-based (although that evidence is often flawed).

Here's a great post by Leo Babuta about the economics of health insurance and how to reduce your risk of needing health intervention:

Here's a recent NYT article about the lifestyles of some of the longest-lived people on Earth, on the Island of Ikaria:

'Food Matters' is a decent documentary, but spends too much time with quacks like David Wolfe and Patrick Holford, who are all too eager to sell you their own brand of 'medicine'. A better watch if you can find it is 'Forks Over Knives' - still a bit sensationalist but with a much more professional cast.

If you ever have the time, is a wonderful site for insights into a healthy diet. They put a video up every day examining the latest dietary research, and there's no financial angle. Can't help but wonder how many cases of chronic disease and cancer could be avoided if everyone just took a few hours to browse this site.


November 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathan

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