Minds and Bodies
by Joshua Katz
by Joshua Katz
One effect of the Ron Paul campaign that I did not anticipate has been to bring together many of my disparate interests. Of course, libertarianism and Austrian economics interest me, along with related philosophical endeavors, but, surprising as it may seem, I have others interests as well. In particular, I am interested in health and fitness, especially nutrition. Yes, yes, there are health and diet articles on LewRockwell from time to time — I even wrote one a while back. The fact is, though, that until recently I considered these two interests quite separate. If I had to guess, I would have guessed that many libertarians were interested in nutrition, but that there was very little interest in liberty among those pursing their interests in diet. It seemed that most people in those areas tended towards socialist/leftist thinking, worried about the FDA not regulating industry closely enough, or wanting bans on certain drugs.
Then a funny thing happened — Ron Paul ran for President. I started noticing that more and more information outlets on health were turning political — and libertarian! Dr. Mercola endorsed Ron Paul for President, the Weston Price Foundation started loudly praising Dr. Paul for his fight against the NAIS, and I started hearing discussions about, of all things, the gold standard among people who shared an interest in low-carb dieting. On Facebook, information is provided about "related groups." For a given group, a second group is related when a great number of the members of the first group are also members of the second group. Check out the Weston Price group, or the Dr. Mercola group, or the raw milk group — you'll find that Ron Paul groups are related to almost all of them. How does it all fit together?
There is more to the dangers facing us than outright government action. Government action, legislation and so on is frequently simply the last step of a process our masters set in motion in other ways. In many ways, several institutions in society together have woven a net around us, a net which continues to tighten and constrict us further. In other words, the ways of tyranny are unified — the natural reaction to which has been that the ways of freedom have had to unify.
It is my purpose here to explain a bit about how this net is constructed. I will take as the most obvious example the legal situation regarding milk drinking. It is easy to speak about laws banning raw milk as "nanny government," "diet dictocrats," or "safety Nazism." Certainly, there are people who support milk laws for those reasons, and even legislators may favor them in the interest of "public safety." Yet, are these the real purposes of these laws? I suggest that they aren't, and arguing against them on these grounds may end up being self-defeating. I propose that our masters are not interested in dictating good health, and trying to do it in a misguided way — instead, they are interested in dictating poor health.
A bit of context is in order. For most of human history, any milk we drank was raw. Up until 1900 or so, raw milk simply was called "milk." Yet we did not see massive pandemics of lysteria and tuberculosis. We also didn't see massive epidemics of obesity, like we have now. Interestingly, there was a physical culture movement in this country, started by Bernarr McFadden, which emphasized the importance of raw milk. McFadden even recommended a "milk cure" for many serious illnesses — and in many cases, it worked. The "milk cure" had also been popular for, well, as long as there's been writing, as a cure for tuberculosis. Weston Price's research showed the tremendous differences in health value between raw milk and the pasteurized garbage we now consume. It used to be said that "milk is blood." Dr. Pottenger, with his famous cat experiment, demonstrated the same differences. Raw milk saved Gary North's life. Yet, this wonderful substance is illegal in 33 states. To seek out one reason for the ban on raw milk, consider the massive lobbying efforts by the dairy industry that resulted in the passage of those laws. They knew perfectly well that the small farmers would be unable to compete once these laws were passed. In combination with the minimum milkfat law, the large dairies were able to consolidate the market and largely drive small family farms out of competition.
If asked to defend these laws, the government is denied any of the usual excuses. There is no such thing as secondhand milk, nor does drinking milk interfere with one's ability to drive a car. There is no externality argument available to them. This makes the milk laws a powerful wedge to use in arguing for liberty — the only reasonable explanation is that these laws exist for the benefit of certain industries.
It is clear how these laws benefit the large milk manufacturers. I submit that they also serve a second master, and a far more insidious one. In the interest of benefiting the pharmaceutical companies, the government has undertaken a series of steps designed to weaken and sicken the population. Combining this with a widespread awareness of just how sick we are, together with completely backwards tips on how to fix the situation, the government encourages all of us to medicalize our problems, and treat them with the various drugs available. Just turn on the tv and watch the ads.
The government food pyramid can accomplish only one purpose — the building of a fat, sickly population. The American diet provides a 30:1 ration of omega 6 to omega 3, while the proper ratio is 1:1. The government recommends that the majority of our calories come from refined carbohydrates — and yes, even that whole-grain bread is a refined carbohydrate, and will block your mineral absorption, and then wrings its collective hands as obesity and diabetes rates skyrocket. Yet, they then try to convince us that type-2 diabetes comes from a high-fat diet! Diabetes mellitus is a disorder of sugar metabolism, and type-2 diabetes is a result of chronically elevated insulin levels. High fat consumption will not cause that, but tremendous sugar and carbohydrate consumption will. Government funded research conflates saturated fats and trans-fats, concluding that we need to avoid traditional, highly nutritious fats such as lard, butter, and coconut oil. Cultures that eat tremendous amounts of these fats, but no trans-fats, do not suffer American health problems. How, then, can American health problems be caused by whatever remnant of these traditional foods are left?
The very idea is preposterous. If we are to believe these claims, then we have to believe that the proper diet is devoid of anything that can be called real food. Every item eaten, on this claim, needs to be highly processed and artificial. Fat is bad, but chemically modified fat that leeches your body of minerals (Olestra) is good. Milk and meat are dangerous and unhealthy — but extruded, bleached grains stripped of their fiber and cooked into bread and pasta should be eaten in large quantities. Cod liver oil is taken only by crazy people — there is no good reason why people took it for centuries. Not only are these claims impossible to believe, but it is impossible to believe that the people making them believe them. They are relying on public schooling to make them seem credible to the deluded masses.
With the population sickened by these recommendations, the people will turn to pharmaceuticals to help them. Of course, the drugs will only make them sicker, especially considering that in many cases the manufacturers themselves don't understand how or why a drug works, and considering that in many cases the anticipated effect of a drug is, in actuality, not helpful. Consider, for instance, cholesterol-lowering medications. No one has ever established a link between cholesterol levels and heart disease, yet anyone whose cholesterol level exceeds an arbitrary standard is put on these hepatotoxic drugs — then the doctors who prescribe them have the nerve to warn all of us against excessive alcohol intake for the damage it does to the liver! Sure, they usually try to address it with diet first — by cutting fats further, and increasing carbohydrates. This conveniently enough guarantees that the dietary approach won't work.
The increasing levels of sickness also cause people to turn to the government, oblivious to the fact that government caused these problems in the first place. They ask for universal health care — oblivious to the fact that most doctors are contributing to these problems, and are basically sales people for the drug companies.
Yet, it gets worse. The government doesn't want your body so much as it wants your mind. In addition to other health symptoms, an imbalance in omega fatty acids is linked to decreased brain function. The government-recommended formulas cause these problems in babies, and the government recommended food plans continue the imbalances as the child grows up. Following the government recommendations, Americans consume pounds of sugar every year, mostly refined and stripped of any fiber or nutrients. This produces children who are unable to focus, and often unable to control their bodies, constantly moving and unable to sit still. Of course, these same symptoms are exacerbated by jailing the child in a government-run school, to be taught irrelevant and misleading information, or out-and-out lies, in an ineffective and absurd manner. Yet, when these symptoms are produced, we respond with a diagnosis, as if the problem were caused by something inside the child — ADHD. Once we have a diagnosis, the answer is immediate — drugs. So we now have a youth culture based around constant use of psychoactive medications. While an adult who chooses to use drugs is not permitted to, children are forced to use amphetamines, and drugs similar in effect to cocaine.
The net effect of all this is to destroy the mind. In following this path, the government has managed to produce a society filled with stupid people. I mean this literally — the remarkable level of stupidity around you is not genetic, but rather results from the combination of psychoactive medication and horrendous diets. Why does everyone who goes on a low-carb diet rave about how much clearer their mind feels? Because consuming massive amounts of sugar, being deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and consuming additive-filled processed garbage leaves a person literally unable to focus. Add in some amphetamines to the mix, and it's no wonder why Americans cannot, by and large, handle abstract ideas. They cannot focus long enough to get past the buzzword level of cognition. All this, of course, is exactly the way the government wants it. A stupid society is an easy society to lead, and an easy society to scare. The government can routinely make contradictory claims without being called out on it. If anyone does challenge government pronouncements, it is easy enough to convince the stupid masses that the dissident is a danger to "our freedom and way of life." To come full circle, if a candidate gathers $4 million in donations in a single day, it is easy to convince the dumb masses that all this money comes from "alienation — and is futilely given to a candidate who has no chance to win." Or that this candidate is a terrorist, whose supporters spam every poll he wins, or an anti-Semite, or whatever slur happens to cross the mind first, it's not hard, really.
Many different institutions need to come together to make all this work. The government has to legislate properly, and make the proper recommendations on the basis of "disinterested research." Research institutions, flush with government money, need to churn out the right conclusions. Pharmaceutical companies need to produce the correct harmful drugs, advertise them, and gain control over the doctors through the AMA. Large food manufacturers need to produce processed, additive-stuffed, sugar-coated garbage, and market it as the only thing normal people eat. Yet, this doesn't imply a conspiracy. Every step, each part of the program, is independently profitable. Sure, some collusion is obvious — such as the powerful lobbyists, and the government funding of research. Mostly, though, these different groups come together not out of collusion, but each out of their own agendas. So, these arguments are not the sole property of conspiracy theorists, although the effect is exactly what the conspiracy theorists fear — a stupid, fat, obedient population, turned into slaves without knowledge of what masters they serve.
NOTE: Among those who can still think, the vast majority lean towards libertarianism. Where they run into difficulty is regarding exactly the topics just discussed. They see the major corporations run rampant, turning us into sick, stupid slaves, and ask "but who would control them if not government?" One response is — has government controlled them? This isn't the best response, though, since it assumes that government has failed, when in actuality government has achieved exactly those ends it desires. Furthermore, it leaves the statist the ability to say "but how much worse would it be without control?" This is a reasonable response, once the libertarian has acknowledged that government has an interest in controlling evil corporate actions. The point we must make instead is that the government is actually behind these evil actions. We must emphasize, from the very first stage of the discussion, the agreement in the interests of government and corporations, and the ways they work together to accomplish evil goals. Remember, concern about runaway corporations — which are real — is for many people the only thing holding them back from becoming libertarians. This is especially true among those in the natural foods movements who are not libertarians. They must be made to see, not just the abstract right to property, but the impossibility of the corporations doing much of what they do now without government — the ways that government provides them the means to force their will upon the rest of us.
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November 8, 2007
Joshua Katz, NREMT-P [send him mail], is the newest member of the mathematics faculty at the Oxford Academy, Westbrook, Connecticut. He has studied philosophy of mind, logic, and epistemology of economics from an Austrian perspective, and is a former graduate student in philosophy at Texas A&M, as well as holding a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He still holds the title of Chief of EMS for the Town of Hempstead Department of Parks and Recreation, and will return to full-time service there in the summer. He enjoys a glass of port and a wedge of Brie, but has discontinued this practice on a regular basis, due to the sugar content of the port.
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