The Insanity of Taxpayer-Funded Addiction

November 11, 2017 by Joshua
in Nature

I doubt anyone disagrees with the New York Times’ Editorial Board’s criticism in “The Insanity of Taxpayer-Funded Addiction,” of the pharmaceutical industry’s decades of promoting opioids, profiting from the addiction they’re contributing to, and the government subsidizing it.

The editorial begins (my emphasis):

The pharmaceutical industry was listed as one of the “Contributors to the Current Crisis” in the final report of President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The report cites decades of aggressive marketing and industry-sponsored physician “conferences” aimed at expanding opioid use by minimizing the dangers of addiction. Lawsuits by state attorneys general, counties and local jurisdictions allege that the industry fostered the epidemic by overpromoting its products, while raking in billions as Americans became addicted and overdosed. “To this day,” the commission says, “the opioid pharmaceutical industry influences the nation’s response to the crisis.”

It sure does. In its response to an epidemic that now kills 50,000 Americans a year, the Trump administration wants to spend tens of millions of dollars in part to help the industry responsible sell ostensibly nonaddictive pain medications and “abuse deterrent” opioids that are as addictive as the original opioids.

As annoying as I consider paying people who made money causing a problem, 50,000 deaths and tens of millions of dollars is nothing compared to the scale of the addictive white powder leading to deaths in this country opioids aren’t in the same league as.

I’m talking about sugar. Also corn syrup and their peers. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimated in 1999 the annual deaths attributable to obesity at 418,154. Obesity growth in the past decade suggests that people eating sugar kills about 10 times more people than opioids.

Pile of Refined Sugar

Pile of Refined Sugar

Obesity’s deaths this year (264,701), is over 10 times that of all drugs (21,560) (source).

As for government support, tens of millions of dollars for opioids is a rounding error compared to $100 billion for corn from 1996 to 2015, among other subsidies, or about $5 billion per year, not to mention other support for other sources of sugar.

So while I share the Times’ Editorial Board’s criticizing the pharmaceutical industry’s deadliness and our government supporting its deadly work, it’s nothing compared to obesity’s 10-times more deaths supported by about 100 times more money from the government.

Why am I paying for sugar and empty calories for the 80% of Americans obese and overweight?

Opioids are a problem, but comfort food seems a 10-times bigger one. I’m not suggesting to let up on opioids, but let’s stop the sugar and learn to enjoy plants as they come out of the ground.

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