FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush, the Compassionate Exerciser?

by Walt Brasch

George W. Bush, the self-proclaimed compassionate conservative who doesn’t want government intruding into private lives, has just mixed government into private lives. In creating a new initiative, spun out as “Healthier Us,” he told us heart disease is costing Americans about $183 billion a year but by diet and exercise we can reduce not only heart disease but also cancer deaths by one-third. Surreptitiously invoking memories of Sept. 11, he slips past us that “a healthier America is a stronger America.” Bush wants us not only to be “physically active every day,” but to “develop good eating habits [and] take advantage of preventative screenings.” He emphasizes he doesn’t want Americans to smoke, do drugs, or drink excessively, all of which he once did to excess.

Had the President just made the suggestions to the American people, the people could accept or reject them. Most of what is said and done in Washington, D.C., doesn’t affect too many people, anyway. But, Bush also “urged the folks at work inside the White House to exercise on a daily basis.” He said that “as an employer, I insist they take time off, out of their daily grind, to get some exercise.” Being the compassionate conservative he is, he said the appointed staff–more than 5,000 persons–“can do it anytime of the day, so long as they get it done.” His insistence probably also affects his cabinet secretaries and their deputies and, for all we know, just about any federal employee in any 8-by-10 office anywhere in the country.

After all, aPresident/employer’s “suggestions” aren’t really just “suggestions.” His directive probably doesn’t apply to Vice-President Cheney whose working day is spent hiding from terrorists while trying to remember what he did with Halliburton, Enron, and the energy lobby.

The President’s thoughts about preventative treatment and routine medical screenings may be well-intentioned. But most insurance companies won’t pay for them, preferring to pay $50,000 after an illness rather than $2,000 to prevent the problem. It’s just “cost-effective.”

It’s doubtful Bush will intrude upon any industry’s “rights” to continue to make obscene profits. Nor is it probable he is concerned that 44.6 million people, 16.8 percent of all Americans according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, don’t have medical insurance, mostly because they can’t afford it. He definitely didn’t say anything about the one-third of all Hispanics and one-fifth of all Blacks who don’t have medical insurance. And, he never once noted that when Hillary Clinton led a campaign to improve health care and insurance coverage in America, the Republicans punctured it with more holes than the vacuous comments made before Congressional committees by the oil and energy lobby.

The President also didn’t say anything about the 730,000 Americans who were laid off in the first four months of 2002, nor the 2.5 million Americans laid off in the first year of his term, most of the layoffs resulting in higher compensation for the executives and increased corporate shareholder income. The President didn’t mention that the unemployment rate is now 5.8 percent–8.4 million Americans–up from 6 million in October 2000, the month before the election, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most of the unemployed, just trying to survive, no longer have insurance or the means to follow a healthy lifestyle, just as they and large segments of the elderly and minority populations no longer can afford the medications and health care they need.

Poverty also wasn’t mentioned, but it directly affects the health and welfare of Americans. There are currently 31.1 million Americans living in poverty, up from its lowest point in October 2000, according to the BLS. Persons without adequate income and shelter can’t afford adequate medical care, nor do most have the will to begin and continue an exercise program.

George W. Bush, exhorting his White House staff to exercise more because he found people who exercise are “better able to communicate and happier on their job,” exercises about 90 minutes a day, often with a three-mile run.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask the President–and all of his appointees–to spend the same amount of time?-any time of the day they want to do it–to exercise their minds. With a little bit of mind-stretching, the President’s Compassionate Conservative Corps might figure out how to help all Americans get adequate medical coverage, while reducing poverty, unemployment, and mass layoffs. There shouldn’t be too many people who object to that kind of governmental interference.

Walt Brasch is former newspaper reporter and editor, and author of 14 books. He is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. His latest book is “The Joy of Sax: America During the Bill Clinton Era.” You may write Brasch at wbrasch@planetx.bloomu.edu

 

Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an analysis of the history, economics, and politics of fracking, as well as its environmental and health effects.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail