Pubdate: Sat, 01 Jul 2000 Source: Summit Free Press (CO) Copyright: 2000 Summit Free Press, Inc. Contact: Address: PO Box 8386, Breckenridge, CO 80424 Feedback: Website: Author: Jason O'Neill


"Heart Disease is now the number one killer in the U.S. surpassing cancer."

The federal government announced today plans to end the artery-clogging lifestyle so many Americans are so fond of. With heart disease taking over as the number one killer, the government has set into action a plan to change the way Americans live and eat.

As of January 1, 2002, every American must meet the Surgeon General's health standards. Physicals will be given and any person not meeting the requirements will be arrested. Sentencing will be proportional to the extent the accused is out of shape.

The prisoners will be housed in the general population of our nation's prison systems. If overcrowding occurs, which is inevitable, it will be relieved by the release of the more violent criminals up for parole. The prisoners will have to take cooking and nutrition classes; they will have mandatory physical-education sessions where they'll learn proper exercise and fitness. For parole, they'll have to report to a government office to take treadmill and bloodwork tests. Their ankle bracelets will monitor their heart rate throughout the day to assure they are exercising enough to fulfill their sentencing requirements. The program will be funded by the $500 billion settlement the federal government received from its lawsuit with the fast-food industry.

Penalties for those caught producing or distributing junk food will face the same mandatory minimum laws that have proven so ineffective in the war on drugs. The infamous three-strikes law will also apply.

So beware backyard BBQers: too much bacon could get you 10 to life. Parents with fat children will be charged with neglect, wives whose husbands die of heart disease can be tried for murder.

New inferred technology will be utilized in the war on bacon, to allow police to see into homes and tell if junk food is being produced or consumed without the time-consuming task of obtaining search warrants. The DARE program will also be expanded to include junk food and will enlist the younger generation to help law enforcement keep an eye on their parents.

Of course this is a joke. However if this sounds outrageous, keep in mind it is the same prosecution people face everyday in America for utilizing a plant that's been used in medicine for more than 4,000 years and has proven safer then aspirin. There are people spending life sentences with no chance of ever seeing the outside for non-violent drug offenses. Meanwhile, tobacco executives lie to congress, kill half a million people a year in the name of profit and whine about the loss of jobs if their industry is not allowed to prosper.

Death is considered the ultimate consequence, there is no coming back (as far we know). The most heinous of crimes result in death. The most severe punishment is death. And the most honorable service is death.

This being true, our government's greatest concern when it comes to treating "dis-ease" in the population should be directly proportional to the rate of death caused by that disease.

This being said, here are some quick mortality statistics from the Center for Disease Control, 1997.

Heart Disease: 726,974

Cancer: 539,577

Alcohol: 44,751 Drug Overdose: 14,843 (legal and illegal drugs)

Total Deaths: 2,314,245

Take a good look at those numbers; over half of all deaths are inflicted by lifestyle choices people make. This is the hypocrisy of our government and the non-thinking majority that should outrage people. If we are to live in a truly free and just society, shouldn't people be able to ruin their lives if they want? If more than a million people can kill themselves every year with cigarettes and bacon, why can't 14,000 kill themselves with illicit drugs?

Seriously though, what needs to be understood is that drug addiction is a disease. Recreational drug use is not. Just as food, alcohol, and tobacco addictions are diseases and eating and social drinking are not. We need to start treating the disease of drug addiction with the same amount of federal funds and sympathy that we treat cancer and heart disease.

Just as full legalization of junk food without proper health education has caused America to balloon into one of the unhealthiest populations alive - with more than 50 percent of its population overweight and some 700,000 people dying every year from heart disease - so would full legalization of illicit drugs fail without proper education as to the effects of abusing them.

The main concern with full legalization is that everybody will become liquor-store-robbing junkies, but if anything proves wrong this concern, it's tobacco. No drug in history has enjoyed more positive promotion toward coolness than tobacco, despite addiction as powerful as heroin. A mediocre but truthful public education program about the risks of smoking has smoker numbers on the decline for the first time in American history, and the perception of tobacco is changing from cool to nasty and even deadly. Truthful education is leading people to make good decisions about tobacco, just as most people would do with alcohol and just as they would with other drugs.

My solution to the war on drugs, to quote the great profit Bob Marley, is "Legalize It!" All of it. Spend drug war money on research and education. Teach people both the risks and rewards of all recreational drugs from heroin to caffeine, and allow them to make the proper decisions based on their lifestyles and beliefs. That's true freedom.