Politically Incorrect New Year’s Resolutions
The Diabetes Pandemic
One in three Californians admitted to the hospital for any reason is found to have type 2 diabetes. Obesity is a state plague. The poor and Latinos as well have obesity rates of 40% and suffer from skyrocketing type 2 diabetes—often requiring kidney dialysis (there are two such clinics now in my hometown). Undocumented immigrants arriving from Mexico (which has the highest obesity rates—70% of the population—in the world) are especially at risk—and discover that the America diet is no different from what caused the pandemic in Mexico.
The national health implications seem to rival those of the AIDS epidemic. Millions of the country’s residents are at risk for a mostly preventable disease that can be avoided or arrested by diet and exercise. Medi-Cal costs are over $175 billion. Most of that staggering expense is covered by the federal government; but in dollar amounts alone Medi-Cal represents half the California state budget, and would long ago have broken Sacramento if not for federal bailouts.
Why, then, is there not a California public health campaign in Spanish and English to warn residents and Latinos especially of their greater risks? We talk loosely of the “Latino” vote as politicians pander to it by supporting sanctuary cities and open borders. Would it not be more humane to campaign on a public health crusade analogous to the AIDS efforts in the 1980s and 1990s? Why the relative silence about this pandemic that is zeroing in on an entire population?
We caricature the schlock of 1950s advertising. Crass Madison Avenue “ad men” supposedly ruined our Golden Age of TV programming with non-stop blaring ads, as pitchmen like Mike Wallace hocked everything from new, improved detergents to fortified breakfast cereals and menthol cigarettes.
In reaction, NPR, PBS, and FM radio gave us quieter types who whispered in soft voices and offered a little nasal-twanged introspection, as they modestly asked for public handouts every 10 minutes.
But are not the 21st-century hipster salespeople now far worse? Can you go to a website without an ad materializing or being redirected to a buy-something page? Have you noticed that if you buy snow gloves, Big Brother’s IP-address-sniffing ads for snow boots soon pop up on your news page? Check the weather once from your zip code, and suddenly you are told that you should subscribe to the Weather Channel. The blare of 1950s TV is nothing compared to your computer screen.
Why is it hard to stay on a news site but impossible to get off an ad page? Out of nowhere voices chime in about a buying a new phone. Videos jump in hyping the latest cable drama. Ads once on the margins now sneak into the middle of the screen—all this from the new generations that don’t wear flattops or wear wing-tips and square ties. What happened to their promises that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for”? If they can cool the planet and lower the seas, and make half the graduating class valedictorians, surely the Masters of the Universe can stop the contamination of the Internet by 24/7 schlock selling?