By Peter Barry Chowka
Part 1 of a Series
© By Peter Barry Chowka
Investigative Journalist and Author
Government has not been good for alternative medicine. Historically, government has been the enemy of alternative medicine. As things are developing now, if government gets its wish – single-payer socialized medicine – alternative medicine is likely to disappear, or at best it will be driven underground.
The historic condemnation of innovative alternatives by the government and its longtime ally, the American medical Establishment, has relied on a variety of nefarious tactics including surveillance, harassment, prosecutions, bans of alternative treatments, dirty tricks, and an ongoing collusion with the mainstream media to dismiss and blacklist unconventional medical options. The history of this “racketeering in medicine” as it has been called is long, dark, and convoluted, but it is available for review and it can be confirmed beyond a doubt for anyone who wishes to look into it. The official campaign of disparagement has even been directed at scientists at the Nobel Prize winning level because they had the gall to challenge conventional orthodox thinking.
Despite its history of opposition, the government has closely studied the evolution of alternative medicine. The most recent government study in 2008 found that 40% of American adults are using some form of alternative medicine – which includes things like nutritional medicine (including vitamin supplements), homeopathy, chiropratic care, herbal medicine, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, alternative cancer therapies, prayer, and a number of other practices. Almost a decade later now, it can be assumed that at least one-half of the population is employing one or more alternative therapies or techniques to prevent or treat ill health.
What has made the success of alternative medicine possible is the uniquely American climate of freedom and choice. The relatively laissez-faire free market environment in the United States has allowed alternative medical approaches to come to the fore and to flourish. Over time, starting in the 1960s, the public at the grassroots level, increasingly dissatisfied with conventional medical options, began to demand access to medical alternatives, and the private sector responded – without any government support.
But the whole context of medical care in the United States within which innovative alternatives have been able to thrive is changing – rapidly. The inability of the Republican controlled Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, and the increasing popularity of a single-payer system, suggest that socialized medicine cannot be kept at bay for much longer. In the wake of the failure of Obamacare – or perhaps this was its purpose to begin with – the push is now on to establish a single-payer, government-controlled socialized medicine system. Leaders of the Democratic Party, including prominent contenders for the party’s 2020 nomination for President, are coming out in support of the concept of single-payer. The next time there is a Democrat-controlled Congress or a Democrat in the White House, single-payer will be on the fast track and there will be no stopping it.
In a single-payer system, private health insurance plans would be outlawed. So would the ability to pay as you go for your own medical care. Instead, everyone in the country – including illegal immigrants and alien residents – would be “covered.” Medical care, provided by health care providers, hospitals, and clinics controlled and paid for by the government, would comprise the new system.
Single-payer is an example of socialized medicine. Merriam-Webster describes socialized medicine as “medical and hospital services that are provided to people by a government and that are paid for by taxes.” Wikipedia defines it as “a term used to describe and discuss systems of universal health care: medical and hospital care for all at a nominal cost by means of government regulation of health care and subsidies derived from taxation.” It is useful to keep in mind the Oxford Living Dictionary’s note that socialism, “in Marxist theory [is] a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.”
Notwithstanding massive mandatory crypto-socialist federal programs like Social Security and Medicare, socialism has not been a guiding influence in the United States until recent years and the decidedly leftward lurch of the Democratic Party.
In contrast to socialism, alternative medicine and innovation in general rely on Americans’ freedom to think, choose, and work without coercion. The threats to freedom of choice that single-payer represents will impact not only the availability and quality of life-saving drugs, surgery, end of life care, and other mainstays of the conventional American health care system. They will also adversely impact the growing field of alternative medicine.
The current health care debate in the media and political circles – dominated by disagreements over costs, how many people might “lose coverage,” the issue of preexisting conditions, and cuts to Medicaid – overlooks a key point: the fact that government-run socialized medicine at its core is evil. Once enacted, it will be one of the final nails in the coffin of Americans’ increasingly tenuous hold on individual liberty and freedom.
The purpose is control
Single-payer socialized medicine is less about providing health care to all and more about controlling the people. Some recent history is instructive.
On March 21, 2009 Obamacare was rammed through an overwhelmingly Democrat-controlled Congress on a straight party line vote. Obamacare represented a major step forward in the long march toward socialized medicine – helping as it did to establish widespread public acceptance of the concept of “health care as a right.”
The day after the Obamacare vote, the senior member of the House of Representatives, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), a strong supporter of government-run health care since he first got elected to the Congress in the mid-1950s, appeared as a guest on a local Detroit radio program. I learned about the Dingell interview courtesy of someone in Detroit who heard the broadcast and posted a comment about it at a blog that I stumbled upon. After some research, I was able to identify the Detroit talk show – it was the Paul W. Smith program on radio station WJR – and locate an audio file of the Dingell segment on WJR’s Web site.
Sure enough, as he gleefully celebrated the passage of Obamacare on Smith’s program, Dingell blurted out that the Democrats had finally learned how “to control the people:”
“The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [million] American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.” – Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), speaking the day after the congress passed obamacare in 2010
When news of Dingell’s interview and his telling comment was published in American Thinker in an article by this author, and was picked up by the mainstream media including Fox News, Dingell’s office issued a statement claiming that the aging Congressman’s comments had been “taken out of context.” The unedited recording of the interview, however, speaks for itself.
That one comment by Dingell on March 22, 2009 exposed the truth of government-run health care more than any other single thing could: Its purpose is to control the people.
This is no surprise to anyone who has studied the history of socialism and communism. Nationalized mandated health care has always been a goal of the collectivist, statist, communist model of jackboot governance.
Writing in 2007 in National Review Online, Mark Steyn put it succinctly:
“Socialized health care is the single biggest factor in transforming the relationship of the individual to the state.”
That transformation entails an army of bureaucrats, PR specialists, enforcers, lobbyists, and hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of individuals functioning at various levels of the medical Establishment – which it might surprise many readers to learn is the biggest business in the United States, dwarfing annual spending on the military by a factor of more than five to one. According to government figures, in 2015 U.S. military spending was about $600 billion, while spending on all U.S. medical care that year reached $3.2 trillion. About 64% of the total health care bill was directly paid for by the government.
Industrial complexes: military vs. medical
The phrase Military Industrial Complex was made famous by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address to the nation in January 1961. Eisenhower was trying to warn the American people about the unchecked power and influence of a military-government-corporate collusion run amok. Over five times as large as the military is the Medical Industrial Complex – and its monopolistic dominance may be just as dangerous as an unfettered military in a Third World dictatorship. Single-payer will allow that monopoly to thrive. Where is the statesman who will warn us about the Medical Industrial Complex?
Not only is conventional medical care expensive, its costs have exploded during the past half century. According to an article in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006, “Adjusted for inflation, annual medical spending per person [in the United States] has increased from approximately $700 in 1960 to more than $6,000 today , tripling as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP).” Between 2006 and 2015, medical spending per person increased even more, to $10,000 annually.
This is no accident. The shocking rise in the costs of medical care since the 1960s has been exacerbated if not largely caused by the government’s increasing involvement in the field. In turn, the obscene cost of conventional medicine has added to its power and political potency.
As usual, the figures – the bottom line – tell us a lot. With $10,000 per person (2015 figures) in play, multiplied by a population of 330 million consumers, the market for medical care and the potential profits are unprecedented in the history of the world. These profits support millions of dollars for industry lobbyists to line the pockets of Congressmen and Senators who vote for increased appropriations and more power for Medicine, Inc. that colludes with government and serves the interests of the medical monopoly more than the public.
For its part, alternative medicine is far less expensive than conventional medicine – which has aided its growth in popularity. It is this demonstrable cost effectiveness that represents a threat to Medicine, Inc. And this competitive edge for alt med helps to explain the antipathy to it on the part of conventional medicine.
A noteworthy example is instructive. In the 1960s, two-time Nobel Prize winning scientist Linus Pauling, Ph.D. (the New Scientist called him one of the 20 best scientists in the entire history of Western science) became interested in Vitamin C. In reviews of the literature, and in animal studies and observations of clinical experience with human patients, Pauling concluded that Vitamin C had a potentially viable therapeutic role to play in treating the common cold and the flu, cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. He delighted in saying that a kilogram of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which in the 1980s cost approximately $10, could effectively treat the aforementioned and other conditions without the patient spending tens of thousands of dollars on toxic, and less effective, conventional treatments that were being pushed by the medical Establishment.
On behalf of the Linus Pauling Institute, Dr. Pauling repeatedly applied to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for a small grant to support his research. The NCI has billions of dollars to conduct and sponsor research. Year after year, Pauling was turned down for funding. In the 1980s, when the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment conducted a five-year long study of Unconventional Cancer Treatments, Pauling, a prominent proponent of a leading treatment, Vitamin C, was included. But rather than take testimony or ask for evidence from Pauling and his colleagues, the OTA hired an unknown physician who was neither an expert in cancer or clinical nutrition – a hack, in the opinion of this author – to write a know-nothing negative report about the value of Vitamin C. And then the OTA tried to keep that information from Pauling and his colleagues until the OTA’s final report was in press and could not be modified.
This is an example – a typical one, at that – of our government at work. So, do you trust it to give a fair shake to other alternative therapies, including approaches that are not championed by a man who was one of the 20 greatest scientists of all time? Especially after single-payer gives that government more power over your health, life, and death than it has ever had before?
Coming Soon: Part 2.
To read Peter’s most recent, as well as his older archived, articles at American Thinker, including his 2017 series on the cable news wars, Fox News, Megyn Kelly, and Alex Jones, please click here or go to tinyurl.com/pcathinker.