Oil Spills and Healthcare

The dialogue concerning the crisis situation in energy and healthcare has steadily ramped up in the U.S. for nearly a decade. The tone of that dialogue is also becoming more impatient with seeing real change delivered on a global scale. While everyone insists that a revolution must come, very few are willing to recognize the number one hindrance to that end.

It may not, on the surface, seem that oil pumping and healthcare have a single common denominator, but they do. It is the consumer. Both industries are completely consumer driven.

While researching many of the topics in The Sage Age, I had to follow their trail back in time to gain historical context. In doing so, I came across several stories that forever altered my perspective on such things as the healthcare industry. One such instance came while researching the study of light. It involved the invention of the X-ray as a diagnostic tool.

Consumers were so enamored with the novelty of being able to see inside their body that they insisted they be given an X-ray even if they only had a cold. If the doctor refused, then the patient would simply seek a doctor who would comply with their wishes. In other words, money walked out the door and was spent elsewhere if the doctor didn’t follow the patient’s orders. This trend remained undaunted until reports began surfacing of the possibility of X-ray radiation poisoning from over-exposure.

Today, that trend of consumers dictating the standards of healthcare is still with us. Everyday there are countless TV commercials showing a person in their late 20s or early 30s advocating a pain reliever that lets them run another 10 miles. Translation – give me whatever I want so I don’t have to disrupt my life or be inconvenienced with the underlying cause I want to put on ignore.

It’s easy to argue that the pharmaceutical industry is creating the above scenario. The fact is, the consumer is creating it. No industry can sell a product for which there is no demand.

The industry follows the consumer. Case in point. When over a billion dollars a year began flowing out of consumer pockets into the alternative medicine arena, hospitals began offering Complimentary Alternative Therapies (CAM) and insurance companies began covering some of those services. Healing the underlying causes of illness takes time. That fact is the one that consumers are just beginning to wake up to.

Everyone in the U.S. is currently up in arms about the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and demanding that off-shore drilling be stopped. While public pressure may indeed bring about that very result, the fact is that the consumption of oil will not simultaneously decrease. In other words, the oil will simply be drilled somewhere else and likely cost more.

Want a real solution? Stop using all petroleum-based products. How easily pacified we are to buy a battery driven car not realizing that most everything from the dashboard to the exterior paint is made from oil.

The total amount of oil spilled in one month from the BP disaster is equal to what U.S. consumers use in one hour and gasoline is only a fraction of that total.

It’s so easy to blame the government, the pharmaceutical companies, and the oil industry. What’s not so easy is to make the real sacrifice necessary in consumption and to face the consequences of that change. When we stop using all of those products, all of the factories that make them shut down. All of the industries that make machines and supplies for those factories shut down. And, we begin to over-consume other natural resources to take the place of everything made of plastic. The same consequences are true in the healthcare industry.

Will real change come by continuing to raise our irritated voices in blaming big government and big industry? Probably not. Are we willing to look at the bigger picture and make the sacrifices needed for real change? We’ll see.

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