An article on about American health and health care by David Frum spoke today about a topic I have often HARPED about on here: that of making good choices when it comes to your body, and how what you choose to do impacts others. Now, I don’t think I would regularly be reading Mr. Frum’s work because he is a former associate of Dubya and that is never a good sign at all. But I pretty much agree with what he has to say in his brief article, which is worth looking at. The gist of what he is saying, in a not-too-terribly-obnoxious Republican-agenda way, is that no amount of health care/insurance reform changes the pathetic fact that we Americans are a bunch of undisciplined fools who expect the health care system to make us well as we smoke, drink, and eat our ways to hell. I am including myself in there as well, because I have enjoyed way too much of my mom’s delicious holiday Chex Mix this season. But I will finish it and get back to regular non-Chex Mix life very soon. I can sure tell you I ain’t going back to hell anytime sooner than is necessary, which with luck will be when I am 100 and attending my grandson’s concert at Madison Square Garden II. His band will be called Monkeys Fling Poo, and I will die happily as he strums a mighty E chord to his hit song, “Grandma, Your Nursing Home Smells Like Old.” Anyway.

A quote from Mr. Frum’s piece:

“If you eat too much, exercise too little, drink too much, smoke, take drugs, fail to wear a seat belt or ignore gun safety, there is only so much a doctor or hospital can do for you.

And Americans do all those things, more than other people (in advanced countries).”

Denial and excess, excess and denial. We do want we want to do because we WANT TO, like spoiled little babies, and then expect Mommy to make it all better. Why, it’s American to choose to ruin your own health! Don’t tread on me, man! Just give me a pill, doc, and shut up! We crap on our own floors and then complain about the smell. It’s ME and YOU who clog up the American health system NEEDLESSLY from self-destructive behaviors. That’s the bottom line. It is selfish, short-sighted, and arrogant to imagine for even a second that, hey, back off, it’s my life, doesn’t affect anyone else. Oh, but it does, it does. Our medical system is broken, due in substantial part to the fallout from folks who treat their bodies like garbage dumps.

Why is this happening notably to America, and not other developed countries? Because we more than any other country hold on to our individual rights, including our rights to be assholes who mess things up for everyone else. Our agricultural society moved to an industrial one, then to gobbling out-of-control consumerism. Personal responsibility and sense of community were replaced by gimme gimme more, a nation lost in the passive worlds of TV and the internet, and cheap, easy ways to get quick satisfactions. When did weak and ignorant become the American Way? Maybe it wasn’t avoidable. But now everyone pays and pays and pays, as the government struggles to find some kind of answer to the nightmare of ever-spiraling health care costs, as families go bankrupt because someone got cancer or insurance won’t cover the treatment that would help Grandpa feel more comfortable in his last days. YOU walk in with your PREVENTABLE illness, and suck up the resources that others desperately need. Is this your RIGHT?

Oh, waah waah waah, you are so MEAN, you say to me, people aren’t PERFECT, they aren’t always going to make the best choices. It’s HARD to not smoke, it’s HARD to not overeat, it’s HARD to lock the gun case. Sure it is. It’s a lot harder to live in a nation teetering on serious financial problems as you struggle to breathe from advanced emphysema and your beautiful, sweet preschool grandson finds your unlocked handgun one day.

You don’t have to be perfect (see: Chex Mix). You don’t have to run 10 miles a day or give up a Friday beer. But think about this: what about not leaving your fate up to a bunch of lawmakers and insurance companies and drug companies? How about YOU, just by doing SOMETHING to take better care of YOU, help to fix the problem that is affecting us all? What if you chose to do just one thing to help ensure that you won’t be a drain on others? One thing, I don’t care what it is. Make one change, and stick with it. Now imagine everyone doing that, and the HUGE impact it would make. Who can solve the health care crisis? YOU.

That is what I like to think is the American Way.