Thursday, January 19, 2006
Signs of the End of Days
This is what Harriet Miers would look like if she didn't wear her contacts while putting on her face.
Granted, there are a lot of useful herbal medicines. And people with head colds and 'flu would be better served if they could be trained to do nasal lavage instead of reaching for the over-the-counter antihistamines.
But the main reason for the herbal-medicine explosion is not because herbs are better. It's because a growing number of Americans can't afford to go to the doctor for even the simplest of treatments.
In a sane country, this would be the spur for socialized medicine. In a sane country.
Middle class Americans are financially not (beyond statistical fluctuation) better off than they were in 1970, and the poor are less well off.
But since medical costs have risen so much faster than general inflation, Americans who have heavy medical expenses were substantially worse off-- unless they were covered by Medicare. What I understand from my frontline person is that the people who are really getting hammered on this are the elderly poor, typically on Medicaid as well as Medicare.
But to the extent that anyone is doing better, it's because the nation is going into debt to do it. And so a year or two from now, it will be discovered that alas we can't afford all of this "social spending." Then many people who think of themselves as middle class are going to understand what it is to be desperate.
It's very true that there are many useful herbal remedies. Indeed, I pointed this woman to the web page on the National Cancer Institute that deals with natural products because I was concerned that under the influence of Dr. Tijuana Laetrile, she might someday avoid medical treatment until it was too later.
I do have one quibble. There are non-antihistamines that do a wonderful job with allergies and colds. But, yes, over-the-counters are wildly overused. Some, like pseudoephedrine, can be dangerous. I independently discovered nasal lavage when just such a reaction almost completely obstructed my airway. I had about two minutes to apply whatever I had learned in life to what would either be the midterm or the final exam, depending on the speed of my response.
This stuff is sold over the counter!
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More blogs about politics.