Health And The Economy

We normally do not think that health is related to economics other than with regard to the costs of medical care. But there is another more fundamental way money impacts our wellbeing. If you could not pay your bills or had to worry about where the next meal would come from, would you be thinking about health, or survival? When we are trying to stay alive moment-to-moment we don’t think about food choices, supplements, organic farming, animal welfare or environmental issues. Those considerations are a “luxury” dependent upon economic capability. But they are a luxury we must have if we are to live a reflective life and survive on planet Earth. Without a robust economy, you can pretty much forget about people being environmental, health conscious, or even civil to one another. In starving nations, war is endemic, disease rampant and the environment is only a raw material to be ravaged to hopefully live to the next day.

The emerging world economy will ultimately place great economic stress on the United States. It already has. Thousands of jobs are being lost to overseas companies employing workers requiring a fraction of the wages demanded here. People in America increasingly try to maintain a standard of living through debt. This is great for all the banks popping up on almost every street corner, but bad for the people. Just in the past year there have been almost two million personal bankruptcies declared.

To compete in the marketplace, companies must keep their costs down. If that means shifting manufacturing elsewhere, that’s what will be done. India, China and other Eastern rim countries are the beneficiaries of this shift in manufacturing and labor pool. While American workers are clamoring for things to return to the way they were with high wages and generous benefits, workers in developing countries are happy as can be having a job for five dollars a day.

This trend will not go away with “buy American” banners or political rhetoric about treaties, minimum wages and outsourcing. The global economy is here to stay and that will mean the American standard of living will retract and the developing world’s will improve. Expect a decline in the standard of living, falling wages and investment insecurity.

Government is not the solution, since it produces nothing but only takes. Government saps an economy, it does not create it. The more that government is hands off, the better the economic vitality. A robust private sector economy (environmentally responsible), on the other hand, is not the enemy as it is so often portrayed, but is critical to financial vitality. Capitalism is not in itself a demon since it merely provides the mechanism for prosperity and with that the opportunity for a society to focus on matters of health and altruism. It works well if ambition and hard work, not merely greed, are its tools.

The inevitable decline of our standard of living is an inevitable and irreversible trend for the foreseeable future. It should concern us not because we want to see American super abundance continue, but because those who are unaware and get caught as casualties in this economic downturn will suffer in so many ways. The world is no longer business as usual.

Good health is not just about diets, supplements, organic foods and aerobics. It’s also about being safe, like driving carefully, not standing on the top of a stepladder, wearing safety glasses when chipping stone…and working hard, keeping our financial house in order and supporting societal choices that do the same.

Life is not surety, and neither is our economy. Nevertheless, hard work and prudent management will never be replaced and is as close to security as we can ever get. It, not entitlements and guarantees, is what ultimately creates the financial footing we need for good health and a sustainable, better and more peaceful world.