I found Dr. David Katz's article on HuffingtonPost this morning. He doesn't say anything I haven't heard before but I absolutely love his assessment of modern life: "The root cause (of most modern disease) is modern living. Everything about modern living that makes it modern -- processed food, suburban sprawl, labor-saving technology, mass media marketing -- is obesigenic, and conducive to the insalubrious application of feet and forks". I also think he is right in identifying the root problem--population growth. It is an interesting and vicious cycle. We need to feed, cloth, and house people but if we do it well we will have more and more people to feed, cloth, and house. We have always relied on technologies of varying complexity to solve the problem but those technologies have two consequences. They solve the problem of producing the more that the initial population requires but they then allow that population to grow to the point where the technologies are strained. And at the same time those technologies produce other not so benign consequences: water pollution, air pollution, soil degradation, and health problems due to those consequences. So we are locked into a pattern of developing a technology and then dealing with the problems of both the success of the technology and the unintended detrimental effects of its use by developing the next generation of technology which will have its own problems of success and unintended detrimental effects.
I found this item at Crooks and Liars this morning concerning Alan Simpson, Co-Chair of that fiscal responsibility committee designed to deal with the budget deficit. Although the committee is supposed to devise ways to fix the deficit overall it seems fixated, thanks largely to Simpson and his ilk, on Social Security, Medicare and other 'social entitlements.' He has taken to spewing outrageous sentiments at people who contradict his own notion of the budgetary mess. Last week he emailed a woman activist whose article noted how devastating a cut in social security would be to older women that Social Security was a "milch cow with 310 million tits" and she should contact him again when she "got a real job." The comments that have the blogosphere up in arms today are directed toward Viet Nam era veterans, their health concerns, and the costs to the Veterans' Administration of dealing with them. As Simpson so nicely put it "The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess," said Simpson, an Army veteran who was once chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee." I think the reactions to each of Simpson's individual 'indiscretions' miss something very, very important. Simpson is attacking and trying to trivialize anyone or any group who has a long established claim on the social, political, or economic collective that is the country. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), author of Leviathan, wrote that Man in a state of nature was engaged in a 'war of all against all' and life under those conditions was 'solitary, nasty, poor, brutish and short.' To cure that and provide stability societies and governments were formed. Unfortunately, it seems to me, society has evolved to a point where we may be recreating the conditions Hobbes saw as pertaining to the state of Man in nature but within societies and governments. We have a war of all against all where the social bonds among us atomized human beings are so weak that life may again be solitary, nasty, poor, brutish and short.
Ronni Bennett's alter ego, Crabby Old Lady, has a good post at Time Goes By today. The experiences she describes sound very familiar. We have also stopped buying the packaged salad greens partly because of the safety issue but also because the packaged greens never keep very well. We don't buy any ground beef any more. We get the cheap beef roasts from our supermarket and grind our own. For half the price of the higher grades of ground beef we get much better by doing it ourselves. We also get the cheap pork roasts and grind it ourselves to make sausage; again for about half the price of the commercially prepared product. We have almost stopped buying canned veggies--way too much salt. For that same reason we will not buy prepared pizzas again either. We have cut so much salt out of our diets that we can really taste it now and the frozen pizzas, canned navy beans, and sauerkraut are unpalatable. Mom drained and rinsed the last can of sauerkraut which left us with a tasteless mess. Now, sauerkraut is supposed to be fermented in brine but the crap we got tasted like the producer had boiled the cabbage, packed in cans with brine and shipped it. We still enjoy our eggs but we buy them from a local year-round farmer's market which gets them from a local producer whose chickens are cage free. Even though the local supermarket did have a sign like the one Crabby saw claiming that the eggs didn't come from the targeted farms we won't go back to the supermarket for eggs. We switched before the salmonella scare for reasons other than safety and the safety issues simply reinforce our decision. We have been so disappointed so often with our commercial food producers that we have reduced our use of those products drastically. We have been told for so long that our market system gives us the widest choice of the best products at the best prices but that is a lie.
I found this alternet article that struck a chord with me. Earlier this year I 'officially' retired. I could say that I had retired two and a half years ago when I lost my last job. Over the intervening time I got applied for a number of jobs but got only one interview which went south within five minutes as the manager noted I was 'over-qualified.' The last time I looked at the job listings I found more work-at-home and other scams than legitimate jobs. Most of the jobs are part time. Why did the article strike a chord? Well, many of the jobs I applied for (and never even got an acknowledgement that they had received my application) were part time but required the employee to be 'on call' for when ever the employer wanted them. For a part time job the employee basically had to put family on hold. And to make a living I would have needed at least three of those jobs while praying I never got sick because none provided any kind of health insurance. Given the prospects I took Social Security at my earliest opportunity. We have a running joke now about all of the jobs that are out there. Neither of us misses them and all the s#$t that goes with them. The author is right--we do need a different approach to work. Something a lot more humane.