APPEL: Personal Responsibility, “Health Equity” And COVID-19 Co-Morbidities

No one disputes that there is a linkage between death from COVID-19 and underlying co-morbidities. The statistics are clear that folks with one or more chronic diseases are far more likely to die of COVID-19 than those who are healthy. And worse, those more elderly with co-morbidity are even at higher risk of dying. That is just the way it is.

In the context of COVID-19, co-morbidities are factors including heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, and so on, which greatly heighten the risk of death for someone contracting the virus. These are common ailments that plague American society, and a great many have a fundamental root cause, obesity. It is ironic that so many Americans suffer these maladies because their obesity is a condition brought on by the very prosperity that is America. A generation or two ago, obesity was a non-issue, but America is far more prosperous than in our parents’ time and that has all changed. Americans have become ever-more obese because we consume far too many calories than are necessary and we do not exercise enough. In our prosperous America, high-calorie, overly salted and sugar-added foods abound, and substituting mechanized transportation for walking or biking dramatically diminishes daily exercise. In effect, our own prosperity is killing us.

But the causes of obesity, along with other causes of morbidities such as alcohol consumption, drug abuse, smoking, and so on are fully preventable and reversible without medical intervention. Anyone can alter their lifestyle and significantly increase their own health. In most early cases it does not take a doctor or a nurse, it does not take medicine, it does not take massive investments by society. It does takes freely available education and personal responsibility. Of course, this is generalization, but one based in fact and one that absolutely applies to the vast majority of those whose lifestyle has led to poor health and a high susceptibility to dangerous disease such as COVID-19.

What is personal responsibility anyway?

Being personally responsible means that as a citizen of a free country you and you alone instinctively do the right things. It means that when, because we are all human, inevitably something goes wrong you acknowledge your own mistakes and take corrective action to assure that they do not happen again. It means that you do not always seek to blame someone or something for your problems, you acknowledge them and take affirmative steps to make things better. It means that you do not always look to others to bail you out of your problems, you take them on with the confidence that you are fully capable of solving them. It means that in a family in which the parent(s) or guardian(s) is personally responsible, the main thing that that person does is to pass those attributes on to the child.

Pretty simple right, except we live in a liberal democracy in which personal responsibility has been supplanted by nanny state government. In our world one can’t admit to themselves that they made a mistake, because government and the media have made it clear that it is never one’s own fault; its someone else’s fault or its society stacked against them, so mistakes are to be expected and ignored.

Let’s look at the current COVID-19 epidemic. As noted, science tells us that most deaths occur when accompanied by one or more co-morbidity. And a great many of these are caused by lifestyle choices that manifest themselves through obesity. But if a person adopts a disciplined, personal responsible approach, the underlying problems can be reversed without medication. Poor diet, lack of exercise, drinking too much sugary drinks and alcohol, taking drugs, lack of knowledge… these are all root causes of these conditions and a personally responsible citizen understands that and take steps to correct them. A government dependent person just believes that its society’s fault and demands for more help from government.

For decades we have been taught through school and the media that Progressive government is the answer to all. So as a result, obesity grows out of control and with it all those other diseases that could be prevented. This is because government cannot and never will be a substitute for personal responsibility.

Is there a place for government in healthcare? Of course, it should be government’s role to do the global things, research, hospitals, education, epidemic control, help for the elderly and poor, and so on. But the problem is we have allowed government to minimize personal responsibility. As a result, government to an extent has become the cause and the cure for all health issues. If public health is the goal, government should promote personal responsibility as one of its most important underpinnings of our society, but instead through policy and leadership it has simply diminished what was once the greatest characteristic of the American people.

We already see the liberal wheels turning. Task Forces to study disparities in death, claims of racial supremacy, vote for us we will protect you, there is a fundamental unfairness in American society, the usual political trappings of American liberalism. But so far only a very few leaders have mentioned that the so many root causes of death disparity could be reversed by a touch of personal responsibility. That is too bad, because the combination of our own prosperity coupled with no personal self-control, as encouraged by mis-guided government leadership, is a sure path to ever worse bad health and poverty.

There could be an incredibly positive outcome from the disaster that is COVID19. If, instead of blaming the boogie man behind the tree, the political class and media would tell the people that personal responsibility could reverse generations of unhealthy lifestyles, then maybe the future would be better for all.

Do I expect that? Of course not, I expect volumes of reports, all kinds of left-wing media dribble, and plenty of meaningless liberal legislation that will go nowhere. And that is a shame because the people deserve better, but when its politics over people, almost always politics triumphs.

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