Monday, February 2, 2009

Epiphany: The High Cost of Convienience

The last time I visited my doctor, she wasn't very happy with me, not only was I way over weight, but a lot of the other numbers that are indicators of health were out of whack HDL/LDL Cholesterol -- Sorry Mr. V.... that is unacceptable; A1C -- Sorry Mr. V... that is unacceptable; ..... She wanted me to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, and to watch what I was eating.

Being somewhat obsessive compulsive and in WWII British Slang a King Boffin (roughly translated into leet as an Uber Geek) I started a spreadsheet to track what I was putting into my body.

I'm about a month into the project now and I have made some interesting observations; none are of themselves earth shattering or new, but the aggregate is at least for me, very insightful.
  1. It hasn't been hard for me to keep the total calories under control.
  2. It is somewhat harder to keep the balance of total calories / calories from fat in the correct range, 20 - 40%
  3. It has been nearly impossible to keep the Sodium intake at or below 2500mg
  4. Convenience foods aren't.
  5. Oatmeal is your friend.
Some of these observations - particullarly number 4 seem to have application in other areas of life.

Information -- It is tempting to just get everything from CNN, FOX, MSNBC .... unfortunately that means giving control over what you see to someone you don't know and who doesn't know you. Worse yet many of the decisions that they make are based not on news value but on whether or not the sponsors make money during the breaks. The good news for us is that thanks to the internet there are lots of links to real time information that is either unfiltered or filtered by folks who tell you what their major filtering system is.

Health Care -- The convenience of health insurance is nice, but again you are giving control over what is done to some faceless bureau, doesn't matter whether it is a private insurance provider or your state / federal medicare bureau. Seems like their primary goal is the reduction of expense. As an example a friend of mine has been waiting for a month to get a bone growth stimulator to help heal a broken bone. The stimulator is covered by the insurance company, but has been held up for a month, by internal red tape. That shouldn't happen.

Government Benefits -- With few, perhaps no, exceptions the cost of any beneficial program sponsored, controled, or other wise manipulated by the government is not worth the cost. On my exception list:
  1. Health Care for Veterans -- Falls under the category of providing for the common defense. Our veterans, since the end of the Draft, have voluntarily given their time, lives and in some cases blood for the national defense. Paying for the treatment of their health problems is a bill that we assumed when they began to serve. Military service has been shown to have some unique long term health risks, one of which is a higher risk of developing diabetes.
  2. Education for Veterans -- See above. For amplification look at the post WWII boom in industry and science. Extra credit - search the education background of the movers and shakers in America from the mid 50's to the early 80's.
Or in a non-governmental area:
Economy of Scale -- The idea that bigger is always better.

  1. Peanuts are just the latest example of how ecconomy of scale is a two edged sword. While it made it possible for a large number of people to get their peanut products cheaply, it also expedited the movement of salmonela bacteria. Peanuts are just the latest in a continuing chaing of supply chain problems. Past examples include spinach contaminated withE-coli, beef and poultry products contaminated with E-coli.
  2. It's cheaper to send the operation overseas -- Yes, but we have seen some production line go overseas to be run by people who do not share our values, laws or sense of honor. Experience has shown that it it possible to get good work done overseas, but it is not a simple task. If anything the requirement for good oversight of foreign operations is higher. Failure to inspect carefully leads to lead based paint, phenol contaminated food products, and other ills.

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