A Modest Proposal for Curing Back Pain

The latest research from Germany shows that people who are highly indebted are eleven times more likely than others to suffer from low back pain. This is so even when other factors are taken into account and controlled for.

Rarely does medical research have such obvious policy implications. As everyone knows, low back pain is enormously damaging to the economy: it has been estimated that it costs the American economy $100 billion per year in lost production. Even in these days when you have to talk in trillions to get anyone’s attention, $100 billion is not trivial: it is, after all, a tenth of a trillion.

Of the personal suffering caused by low back pain I do not need to speak. Anyone who has sat at a computer all day knows all about it.

Since indebtedness has undoubtedly increased of late, it follows that low back pain must also have increased (assuming, of course, that German research is as reliable as their cars). The loss to the economy must also be increasing, therefore.

How can we deal with the looming low back pain crisis? The answer, surely, is obvious. Those who have inadvertently indebted themselves by going on holiday to exotic locations, and by buying flat-screen televisions as large as cinema screens and the other bare necessities of human existence, ought to be at once forgiven their debt.

Think of the advantages, both economic and humane, of this wise policy. People who would otherwise be languishing at home, groaning on their couches on a pittance, worrying themselves sick, would be returned to productive employment. There would be a virtuous circle: their incomes would increase and thus the demand for goods and services would also increase. The Medicaid drug bill for analgesics and other medications would be reduced. Prosperity and economic growth would soon return to the land.