Monday, May 29, 2017

A Slushy is not Food

The claim has been made by politicians that the poor are lazy, stupid and do not deserve to eat through public funds.  But, let's be precise about these claims from a classical conservative point of view.  What does it cost the public to feed people compared to not feeding people.   Is it better to feed the poor or not to feed the poor?  This question really gets down to the nub of fiscal responsibility, and makes no mention of the virtue of being poor, at all.

I, for one, do not have a point of view on poverty, except that people arrive there and rarely get out of poverty; and, if I could, I would wave my magic wand to move them upward and out of poverty.  Do I think this has merit?  I have no idea if there is merit in not being poor any more than I know if there is merit to being richer than sin itself.  All I want to know is if feeding people is cheaper than not feeding people from a public funding perspective.  So, let's look at costs and benefits and then after that matter has settled, look at which position may benefit the public as a whole.

Researchers have studied this, most often from the perspective that food insecurity leads to poor health outcomes. If you cannot foot the bill for food, you are very likely to develop chronic health problems.  Chronic being an ongoing and continuous condition, or, if you will, not an acute or short term problem.  But, newer research shows that having chronic health conditions also leads to the inability to buy food, destabilizing a poor persons status even further.

What problems occur from acute or chronic food deficits?  The range of problems are both acute and chronic.  Common problems are hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus and neural degeneration, which amounts to confusion, the inability to make effective decisions, and hypoxia due to acquired anemia.

So, in a way, poor people look stupid because the condition of poverty causes neural impairment.  If you were a mother in poverty with malnutrition, your child's neural development would be impaired chronically.  Neural function would be forever diminished as would neurotransmitter release.  Neonatal malnutrition causes people to be mentally impaired, or stupid.

What else might malnutrition cause?  We know that even relatively healthy and intelligent people develop stress related poor decision making ability.  When people are paid, people make better decisions than when they are poor.  As pay day is further away and money gets tight, the poor begin to make irrational decisions as stress overcomes normal decision making.  And, the decisions they need to make are almost impossible to decide between.  Should I eat or put gas into the car?  If they can't regularly get to work, they lose their job.  If they get to work mentally impaired from malnutrition, they may make poor decisions at the job and thereby loose their position.  They are damned either way.

So, are they responsible for these choices?  No.  How could they possibly choose between the proverbial rock and hard place and not increase their stress reaction?  Could they possibly be expected to perform like nutritionally competent people given the bodies reaction to malnutrition?

What are the costs over a lifetime of malnutrition?  Usually, poor people on Medicaid have at least two chronic health conditions.  About a third of those on Medicaid have 4 chronic health conditions.
The ten most costly chronic health conditions are most prevalent among the poor.  In other words, 29 million men and women on Medicaid have hypertension.  21 million have mental health issues.  Heart disease alone costs Medicaid $91 billion.  Treating acquired mental illness due to malnutrition cost an additional $61 billion dollars.  Just those two chronic conditions cost the nation $152 billion dollars.

The cost of the SNAP program, which feeds children and parents of poor families costs is a mere 75 billion dollars.  If we provided better SNAP benefits that reduced the incidence of heart disease and mental health conditions, would we not either decrease costs or paid relatively the same dollars for better health in the poor?  Given the numbers, if we fed pregnant poor women sufficiently for better neonatal health and fed those families enough to prevent the development of acquired mental health problems, wouldn't it be a reasonable assumption that the cost of the $61 billion dollar Medicaid mental health costs would decline?  I think it would be fair to say that acquired mental health from malnutrition costs would substantially decline.

I could only find data associated with these conditions with costs to society.  I could not find studies that resolve the question as I posed.  Is it better to feed the poor or pay for the costs of being poor?
I can only assume that certain costs would decline, like those related to diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, mental health, cancer and the like.

So, if you know more about this subject and have information to share please email me at mrsorenmann@gmail.com. I would like to learn more and to share it on future posts on the subject.

Just know that I lied above.  I really do care about feeding the poor.  It is cheaper to feed the poor than to create a whole class of chronically malnourished people.  These people are my countrymen.  Our failure to treat them like brothers and sisters is beyond the pale.  We fed Nazi and Japanese soldiers 3 solid meals per day and we can't produce the political will to feed our own people for the bias of "stupidity" or "laziness".

Well, if you did not eat healthy foods or simply did not have access to healthy foods, you eventually develop anemia, which leads to hypoxia, which leads to neural impairment, and acute organ failure.  Put bluntly, starvation sucks big time.  And, the rich know this and don't care.  And, they have largely attempted to depress a whole class of Americans out of contempt.  There can only be two explanations for this contempt.  One, they just hate poor people.  Or, secondly, they don't know any better.  My hope is that there is a mix of the two.  At least I may sway the ignorant to greater enlightenment.

Right now, the United States has entered a period which could be known as the dark age.  People prefer ignorance than the truth.  And, this is hard to overcome.  I only know of one way to overcome ignorance and that is by vigilance.

Poverty is primarily a social construct that results in real diseases of the body and mind of the poor. It is preventable and only the more well off are responsible for the poor's condition.  We can afford to feed them and house them.  We just fail to try to sustain them.  We are told they are lazy and stupid.  The medical terms for these conditions are malaise and cognitive impairment, which do not have the same meaning as lazy or stupid.  The poor are cursed by malaise and neural impairment.  And, I am astonished that poverty is blamed on the poor, which is like calling the sick the cause of their own disease, and not a microbe, vector, or chemical assault.  We tend to concentrate the poor in small areas where they have to compete with other poor for jobs, governmental support, and even the barest of necessities, including food and lodging.

There is so much food on earth that we let rot more than 25 percent of all food grown.  As for housing, in Minnesota alone there is 2 homes for every one family available.  The rich have more homes than need.  The poor have no homes and great need.  Scarcity is not the issue.  The issue is one of desire.  The poor can be made healthy and whole from simply providing a stress free home over their heads and 3 squares a day.

What is wrong with this picture?  I hear the hate and contempt for the poor all the time as if they are the cause of their own poverty.  Give the poor food and find out what great people they can become in stress free life.  I would bet big that the poor would lift themselves out of poverty with a little bit more love and a lot less hate.

That idea of loving thy neighbor as thy self is as old as Jesus.  Just saying!  
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