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Friday, July 12, 2013

The War on Food -- Ben Meyer

The War on Food by Dr. Ben Meyer
Imagine tomorrow when you wake up the headline, “America Declares War on Food”. Sound silly? Kind of, right? How could it be enforced? We would die of starvation! You can’t outlaw food!! We need food to eat, etc, etc.
Take a minute and consider how much Americans spend on food and on a similar vice: drugs. In the US, the food industry accounts for $1.2 trillion dollars per year. In other words, Americans consume or spend $1.2 trillion dollars on their pallets every year. Not too outlandish, right? Other countries eat more, most eat less, but not out of line. Imagine though the amount of money America spends on drugs in America per year. Would you imagine it to be more or less? 'Well, lets see..me and the wife spent about $50 going out to eat the other day..the wife spends $250 at the grocery every week or so, give or take..I buy a round of beer at the bar at bowling on Thursdays.' I assume most Americans would venture to guess more money is spent on food than on drugs in our country. I eat two to three meals per day as I imagine do most people, a minimal percentage of people use drugs and I’m sure they typically use less than three times per day..cocaine is expensive, but how many people snort coke? No brainer, right? Wrong. The amount of money spent on eating in America is equal to that Americans spend on drugs. Equal.
Well, we can’t outlaw food, we need it to live, right? Where is the correlation? Ask yourself this, what would a war on food look like? How would we ever have the resources necessary to arrest the little old lady baking cookies in her oven and why would we care, she is not hurting anyone? Outlawing soda is ridiculous (see Mayor Bloomberg in New York), imagine the outrage kids would have when they can’t drink their sodas at school? How silly would it be to arrest the patrons at McDonalds for ordering at the drive-thru. “Ma’am, we saw you order that Big Mac, no sense in lying about it, you’ll have to come downtown with us.” Not only would it be impossible to eradicate eating, it would not make much sense to arrest someone for this, our jails would be full and the idea of arresting or outlawing something like this makes no sense to begin with, right? Even if high fructose corn syrup is bad for our health and 30% of Americans will be considered obese in 20 years, outlawing food would be a waste of time and money. Food is necessary to function and much of it healthy.
Think for a moment of the scale here. Outlawing food is silly, right? It provides sustenance and nutrition, and without it, it would cause a health concern and possibly over time, death. Plus it wouldn’t be possible to have a war on food, there would be people who made food anyway and most would resort to this I would imagine or they would starve and die and suffer much detriment.
The US spends a great deal of unnecessary money on doing something very similar. We give other countries $3 billion dollars a year to eradicate drugs in their countries, we give our Coast Guard $1 billion every year to stop drug shipments from coming into this country from Latin America and Mexico. Americans spend $100 million dollars per year on consuming alcohol, $35 million dollars a year to smoke. We lose $200 million a year on tobacco related job losses and medical issues, not to mention the addiction of nicotine and it’s effects, including a shorter life span for smokers, and the complications with drunk driving (up to and including death). $300 billion dollars is spent on Big Pharma on a yearly basis to give us our Xanax and our Oxycodone and on and on. The illegal drug trade is bigger, an estimated $400 billion dollars of American's cold hard cash is spent on marijuana and the like in the illegal drug trade every year. This in no way speaks to the loss of life and time chasing an invisible enemy that will never be defeated because it never existed in the first place. Legislating moral issues has never and will never work to fix anything. In fact, making drugs illegal, may exacerbate the issue.
What do we do? The first thing we do is understand this is currently going on. Arguments can be made that using pharmaceutical drugs is beneficial and drugs like alcohol and cigarettes are legal, so they should not be included here. Fine. The War on Food will be from 8am Monday to Thursday at 5. You get the idea. The scale here is what is important. Drugs need to be de-criminalized at the least. The loss of jobs due to a police record and the time to pay for courts is not even included in this discussion. More than half of the prison population in the United States is in jail due to having been arrested for drug use or paraphernalia. Putting a person in a 24 hour care facility for one year costs one-half as much as housing a person in a prison and the rates of recidivism are much less. One idea to understand the scope and one I would like to see if only for one year, would be if we call a moratorium on drug spending for one year. Doing so, we could afford to give every college graduate $217,000 and it would be an even deal. We would eradicate our entire student loan debt in one year and reward those who struggle and work hard to improve themselves in these tough times. Plus I am one.
I referenced the following website in writing this article, http://www.drugsense.org/mcwilliams/www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint/2050.htm
Much thanks to it’s author..

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