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The other day, I responded to a comment on a conservative American website with regard to diet.
The context was in regard to the reform of Obamacare in the Trump administration. The initial comment referred to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) possible approval of a health auditor, a stranger, to visit someone’s house to assess a family’s lifestyle prior to their obtaining health insurance. Apparently, this is one health insurance idea that has been discussed before.
Ryan’s father died at an unexpectedly early age from heart disease. Consequently, Ryan focussed on diet and exercise to ensure he himself didn’t end up that way. It is thought that he also might well consider that a stranger going into someone’s home to assess their lifestyle — perhaps to check cupboards for snacks or alcohol and sniff walls for evidence of smoking — is entirely acceptable.
That is every bit as frightening as the Vault 7 Year Zero CIA document dump by WikiLeaks on March 7.
There are two things here.
The first is that, as a legislator, Paul Ryan will never have to be part of Obamacare or Trumpcare. He and his colleagues get a traditional health insurance plan.
The next thing is obesity, which Paul Ryan — a thin man — desperately opposes.
As I told the person on this particular conservative website, this notion of a healthcare audit is a plan for the ‘little people’. (They, in Ryan’s estimation, do not understand what their betters do. This, by the way, is Ryan’s ‘magnificent home’ in Janesville, Wisconsin. It has an extensive border fence around it.)
I further commented (same link):
To counter Ryan’s dictating to Americans on their health: my father also died of heart disease at an early age. So did his father, whom I never met. So have some of my friends in the present day. That doesn’t give the right to go around snooping in people’s homes as a precursor to getting health insurance!
Then, I discussed obesity:
Re obesity: severely limit or stop eating starch and sugar, eat more fat (including animal fat) and less protein. Watch the pounds roll off. It’s called the ketogenic diet, which is a permanent eating plan, not a fad diet. I’ve been on it for three years. I lost weight and stabilised. Cholesterol and triglycerides go down with keto.
As we know, there is a particular association between Americans and obesity. It is unclear whether this can be connected with the increase of obesity in other Western countries, because who knows how much corn syrup — rather than sugar — is in their food? Emphases mine below, not in the original comment:
Someone on here was talking about corn. It’s all the corn syrup used in place of sugar which also leads to obesity. Sugar makes you feel more sated than corn syrup. We owe the proliferation of corn syrup to the Nixon administration in the 1970s. Corn farmers, IIRC, had a glut of crop then, so were bailed out with companies producing corn syrup for commercial cake, cookie and candy manufacturers.
Note when obesity started to climb: the late 1970s to early 1980s. It was no big deal at the time. Most people attributed it to Americans giving up smoking. Although that was a factor, I would posit that the increase of sweet snacks and cakes made with corn syrup were a greater contributor — and continue to be today.
Yes, I know I should have said ‘was’ instead of ‘were’ in the last sentence, but only caught it now.
Regardless, that message got through. My sincere thanks to the moderators. I didn’t think anything of it until later. Now read on.
The commenter, with whom I was corresponding, replied:
Salty snacks like crackers and chips also contribute, along with soft drinks and the rest of our favorites (fast food, etc). Eat at home family meals with vegetables and salads have diminished with women working, divorces, unwed mothers with no Dad in the home, increase of addictions, etc.
I’m not in favor of a one-food group diet (animal fat/low carb) diet. Whole grains and vegetables/fruit contain important phytonutrients. Did you know heart attacks diminished in Britain, in WWII, despite the stress of the bombings, when sugar was rationed?
So, appreciating this reply, but differing because of my keto experience — and that of thousands of others — wrote back.
I retyped my reply twice. Both immediately went into spam. A subsequent message, on a different topic, went through, by the way.
The text below is similar to what was spammed. Once again, emphases mine below, not in the original comment. For the overweight:
All starch — whether salty or sweet, from carbohydrate to sugar — should be sharply curtailed or eliminated.
It should be noted that the ketogenic diet — a way of eating and not a fad diet — is not a one-food group diet. It works with a proportion (depending on the individual) of 50% fat, 35% protein and 15% carbohydrate per day. Vegetables should provide most of the 15% carbohydrate. The more you weigh, the more you lose.
Starch comprises bread, cereal, cakes, oatmeal, salty snacks (etc.). Sugars, including those in fruit, are also starches.
Corn syrup has replaced sugar in most sweet snacks. Corn syrup is less satisfying than pure sugar. Americans are eating more corn syrup in cakes, cookies and candies. Therefore, they are getting fatter because the corn syrup is less satisfying.
Eating more fat — including fat from cheese, eggs and dairy products, especially butter — will be more satisfying than eating starches or sugar.
I agree very much with your point on ready-made meals, however, another problem is that Americans — along with many other Westerners — eat five times a day.
I take your point that, during the Second World War, Britons got their nutrients from whole grain bread. However, they needed all the sustenance they could receive. They also had no central heating. They had to walk or ride bicycles to and from work. Rationing in the UK did not end until 1954.
Westerners live an entirely different lifestyle in the 21st century. They eat too many carbohydrates, including sugars — especially corn syrup products, which leave them less full than sugar would. They have heated homes and offices. They drive nearly everywhere.
Low fat foods are another problem. For a decent flavour profile, low fat needs to be offset with high sugar content, most often corn syrup.
My message must have had wording or syntax that instantly caused it to end up in spam — twice.
There is a political point about corn syrup that I want to make concerning the law of unintended consequences. No one could foresee in the Nixon administration that corn syrup would result in a national weight problem.
I know from experience. In the early 1960s, when I was five years old, I was a guest of a young friend at her house for Saturday dinner — pancake night. My mother always bought maple-flavoured syrup made with sugar. This family always bought corn syrup. I still remember eating a plateful of pancakes with syrup and feeling hungry before I went to bed that night. The hosts even told my parents that I had an incredible appetite for such a little tyke. Yet, that was the only time I was ever hungry after eating twice as many pancakes as I would have done at home. The only difference was the type of syrup.
If Americans were still eating sweets of any kind made with sugar, they would be of normal weight.
Corn syrup is making people fat. So are other starches. Anyone who wants to lose weight should try a low-carb high-fat — LCHF — eating plan.
For more information on the ketogenic diet, please read the following. If you are in any doubt or under regular care of a physician, seek medical advice first:
Does low animal fat intake increase hostility or depression? (a hypothesis)
Fat and a balanced mind (low-fat diets can imbalance serotonin and nerves)
High carbohydrate intake and depression (also epilepsy related [Dr Richard A Kunin’s paper])
High-carb, low-fat diets might cause Western diseases (cancer related)
Dietary advice: the old ways are the best (my own story on the ketogenic diet)
High carb, low fat diets bad for brain health — and moods? (more testimonials for the ketogenic diet)
Whilst I cannot guarantee that my original correspondent on the conservative website will see this, I hope that others might find this of interest.
Obamacare has pushed many Americans’ insurance premiums and deductibles (‘excess’ in the UK) through the roof.
Jonathan Gruber helped develop and present the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Some say he was its ‘architect’.
In 2014, both Gruber and the Obama administration denied he had much of a role in that policy, however, he gave several interviews and public speeches on the topic. It was also known in January 2010 that he had a $297,000 contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services. He was promoting Obamacare during that time. Some journalists and pundits called this a conflict of interest.
Gruber has long had an interest in economics and health care. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), he went on to obtain a PhD in the subject at Harvard University. His thesis was Changes in the Structure of Employer-Provided Health Insurance.
Gruber has been teaching economics at MIT since 1992. He took leaves of absence to work for the public sector, initially for the US Treasury in 1997 and 1998. He later worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in devising Romneycare between 2003 and 2006 when Mitt was governor. In 2008, he advised three Democratic Party campaigns. Between 2009 and 2010, he worked on Obamacare.
After that, he worked for the State of Vermont in crafting Green Mountain Care, the first state-level single-payer health care scheme. That was in 2010 and 2011. N.B.: Vermont governor Peter Shumlin cancelled Green Mountain Care in 2014, because it was too expensive!
Odd that an economist should get his numbers wrong, don’t you think?
Obamacare Facts has a page on Gruber, featuring quotes and videos.
In 2013, at a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Gruber at one point explained that it was essential for the Congressional Budget Office not to portray the Obamacare bill as a tax or a mandate, even though it is (emphases mine):
This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in -– you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money — it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass. And it’s the second-best argument.
Remember Nancy Pelosi saying, ‘We have to pass it to find out what’s in it’?!
The media pushed Pelosi’s lie.
Going back to Gruber’s statement, it was important to not present Obamacare as a tax, otherwise Joe and Jane Public, understandably, would have been on the blower to their legislators demanding the bill not be approved.
However, there was a more important legal reason:
It wasn’t until the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius that the mandate’s fee was declared a tax. Given the status of Gruber this statement could not only be used to sway public opinion away from the Affordable Care Act, it could be used in lawsuits against the ACA moving forward …
CNN’s S E Cupp has more Gruber quotes. Her article was published in November 2014, when all his proclamations were first broadcast to the American public. That was the point when some in government began to distance themselves from him. Pelosi denied knowing who he was even though, in 2009, she had praised his work. Obama referred to him vaguely as ‘some adviser’.
In 2010, Gruber told the following to an audience at the College of the Holy Cross:
… quite frankly the American public doesn’t actually care that much about the uninsured…..What the American public cares about is costs.
Indeed they do. Shouldn’t an economist?
In 2012, at the Honors Colloquium at the University of Rhode Island he said:
It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.
Cupp was rightly aghast at Gruber’s arrogance:
For one, it was hardly a secret that the law relied on healthy people to pay in so that sick people would get coverage. Most of us — even the stupidest — know that’s how insurance works.
And just to be sure it was clear, Republicans and opponents of the law reiterated this fact ad nauseam during the public debate of the Affordable Care Act. Heck, even Obamacare supporters were insistent on explaining this point for the express purpose of getting healthy people to sign up for it. The administration spent millions on a marketing pitch to convince young, healthy millennials to invest in health insurance many didn’t appear to want.
For another, despite Gruber’s insistence that the administration maintained a necessary opacity about the law, there were plenty of warnings about its potential fundamental problems, and numerous advocacy groups, impartial economists and media outlets were steadily fact-checking the President’s rosy predictions about the law.
The point at which Gruber became unstuck on Obamacare was when he spoke with great certainty of state-specific health insurance exchanges in 2012. People who could not afford the premium would be able to apply for tax credits that the exchanges would honour. Obamacare Facts has the quote, excerpted below, then explains how wrong it all went in reality. At the time their page was published, there were three lawsuits (emphasis in the original here):
Gruber: Yeah, so these health-insurance Exchanges, you can go on ma.healthconnector.org and see ours in Massachusetts, will be these new shopping places and they’ll be the place that people go to get their subsidies for health insurance. In the law, it says if the states don’t provide them, the federal backstop will. The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it …
The problem here is that in Gruber’s opinion, and remember he helped to create the law, that if a state doesn’t set up an exchange then its citizens can’t get tax credits. Well that is exactly what three lawsuits are currently charging. Two of those lawsuits have initial rulings against citizens getting tax credits.
FACT: About 87 percent of people enrolled in ObamaCare’s Health Insurance Marketplaces receive subsidies.
When asked in November 2014, Gruber said he made a mistake. He told the New Republic:
I honestly don’t remember why I said that. I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it.
During this era, at this time, the federal government was trying to encourage as many states as possible to set up their exchanges. …
Breitbart wrote about the Gruber controversy in June 2015, confirming that he really was the architect of Obamacare, observing:
once again, the media eagerly helped Obama shape a painful news cycle with falsehoods, and the truth comes out literally days before the Supreme Court rules on the subsidies – too late to influence the Court, while Obama was given a clear field to bully them into protecting his health care con job again.
Cupp nailed Gruber with this:
Gruber’s misguided sense of accomplishment reflects not so much elitism as it does the arrogance of liberal “solutionism,” or the tendency of technocrats to assume they can solve complex social problems easily …
… he decided what the problem was (in this case, that healthy people were paying too little for insurance) and assumed we were all too dumb to ask any questions.
There is only one presidential candidate who promises to repeal Obamacare. You know who it is. And, if elected, he will ensure it’s done.