November 23, 2009

Responsibility is the source and solution, the beginning and end

Regarding the Nov 23, 2009 Wall Street Journal article, "Laying the Groundwork", Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, was asked about child obesity. She spoke:

So we have a crisis. It's got to be solved in school cafeterias; putting physical education back in classrooms; making sure that we have greens available--in lots of neighborhoods you can't buy fruits or vegetables--and strategies that involve parents taking some responsibility and helping people get to that end goal. [stop]

On through 12 paragraphs of quotes, Sebelius makes many points about the state of the healthcare system and the rising costs. She says that 75 cents of every "health dollar" is related to weight reduction and smoking cessation. Only once in the all the words and paragraphs does she use the word "responsibility" or "responsible" or any synonym. When she does use it (i.e. "some responsibility"), it seems to be with hesitation.

Smoking and weight gain are issues of individual responsibility. I am not saying that it is easy to not gain weight or to avoid the lure of smoking, but that does not change the fact that those are both very clearly based on specific choices individuals made. In other words, lack of responsibility is what got us into this mess and is a significant (75% and arguably much higher) part of certain costs; yet, the only mention of responsibility in the discussion is for parents to have "some responsibility" for their obese kids. That's it? Who else can be more important stimuli? and the book Why Not Blame Drew? provide discussions of individual responsibility. The book outlines that there is no such thing as "some" responsibility. You are either responsible or not responsible. If you ask for "some" responsibility, then you let it be one or the other. We need to require parents to be 100% responsible for their children. Is that too much to ask? Why is responsibility not prominently discussed by the person who should care the most? If the Secretary of Health and Human Services doesn't emphasize it, who will?

Eventually, we have to focus on individual responsibility when it comes to the health of the nation! Why not now?

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