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The Carbohydrate Conspiracy Revisited

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis / WashingtonDispatch.com
December 30, 2003

Much of the response to an earlier article, "The Carbohydrate Conspiracy," focused on how unfair it was of me to implicate liberals (and the left in general) in a so-called conspiracy to promote the consumption of excessive carbohydrates. While not sympathetic to this position, I can nonetheless see how liberals might take umbrage and others might think the accusation unfounded. I will admit that the connection certainly could appear to be somewhat tenuous. New evidence has surfaced, however, to make the case virtually airtight.

Let me backtrack a bit and see if I can put my assertion of a connection between the left and a "carbohydrate conspiracy" on somewhat firmer ground. First, it is, as I understand it, virtually axiomatic among Democrats and socialists that a central government should have broad and far-reaching decision-making powers. Hillary Clinton's attempt to nationalize health insurance under federal authority is a classic example of this impulse. It would have taken health-care decisions out of the hands of the people receiving the health care and those administering it, and put those decisions in the hands of a government bureaucracy.

Even under most current private health care plans, patients and doctors are disenfranchised to a much greater degree than they should be by a process that artificially sets parameters for and administers most important health care decisions, from what treatments will be covered to how much physicians will be reimbursed for those treatments. Such plans amount to nothing more than subsidized medical and drug treatments. Sensible alternatives to current medical insurance plans include individual and family medical savings accounts, which can be funded by employers or individuals. The money available in a medical savings account can be spent by the account holder on any medical treatment he or she requires. Money in these accounts can be invested, much like money in an IRA, and unspent money can be rolled over from year to year. Catastrophic illnesses are covered by supplemental high-deductible insurance plans, the premiums for which are very low.

Such eminently sensible insurance plans have been proposed numerous times by federal legislators, and they have been universally resisted by Democrats, for the primary reason, as near as I can determine, that they take power away from the federal government and put it in the hands of those whose lives are dependent on the healthcare treatments they pay for. It's very much as if Democrats are saying, "We'll be damned if we'll let you make your own mistakes regarding health care. If there are mistakes to be made, we'll make them for you."

And that's precisely the point of the recent evidence implicating a leftist government in damaging, if not disastrous heath care decisions. You've heard the saying, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." That saying is intended to alert you to the fact that, if someone offers you a free lunch, there's always a catch. Would that the Swedes had paid attention to it, because in Sweden there is such a thing as a free lunch.

The Swedish government provides a free lunch to all Swedish schoolchildren. The catch? It has to be, by government decree, a low-fat lunch. That is, a high-carbohydrate lunch. That is, an unhealthy lunch. In addition, the Swedish government goes to the trouble to put a special low-fat symbol on supposedly "healthy" snacks, encouraging parents to choose them for their kids. In the past decade or so, obesity among children in Sweden has tripled. And while the free lunch program and the low-fat snacks are not the only contributors to the rise in obesity, they are certainly significant, considering that the government is by example and by recommendation promoting an unhealthy diet. Low-fat meals and snacks mean, in most cases, high-fat consumers.

The United States — thanks to the fact that we had enough sense to reject la Clinton's socialized health care plan, and despite the fact that incorrect and harmful information about what constitutes a healthy diet continues to be perpetuated by our government and our media — is still a country where citizens have a high degree of control over their diets. It is estimated that as many as one third of all American adults are now following the Atkins diet, by their own choice. It's simple: Atkins works to control weight, blood glucose fluctuations, and cholesterol levels, among many other positive things, and people are realizing it. If you're not on the Atkins diet, you're on the Fatkins diet.

And so, the Carbohydrate Conspiracy is in fact what I would term a "presenting issue" in this case. While it may not be literally true that Democrats and liberals in the United States perpetuate dietary misinformation in the service of keeping people unhealthy, it is true that the impulse toward an increasingly powerful central government leads to situations in which life-and-death decisions are taken out of the hands of people whose lives are at stake and put in the hands of bureaucrats who have no medical expertise and no involvement in the lives of the people receiving treatment. This is perversely unhealthy, and it leads to situations such as that in Sweden, where the government becomes the arbiter of what is healthy, and when it makes a mistake, millions pay for it.

Such decisions are based, in the final analysis, on a denial of individuality. To propose that all people experiencing a given set of symptoms should somehow be given the exact same treatment is not only illogical — given what we now know about human biochemistry — it is absurd, and, some would argue, criminal. In my experience, it is those on the left, including Democrats and socialists, who insist on treating citizens not as individuals, but as members of a class. That is the crux of the problem: Democrats' unwillingness to craft or approve legislation and policy that enable people to exercise personal choice wherever possible in the decisions that affect their lives. And at bottom, that is what the Carbohydrate Conspiracy is really all about.

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