Oh, don't even
pretend to be shocked. You know it's true. You know there are
simply a huge number of big, sweaty major corporations out there in
big, sweaty capitalismland who claim to be in the business of
feeding and caring for the human body, but who actually care about
as much for your general health and well-being as a Republican
cares for his meth dealer's lesbian daughter's organic free-range
Deny it at your peril: It is just sinisterly evident that many
corporations - seemingly far more in quantity and scale than we
like to imagine - would very much like to see you, well, if not
completely dead, then surely to suffer, wallow, shake and wobble
for as long as you shall barely live.
Why? Because, silly, no matter how you slice it and what sort of
optimistic green/organic/progressive wool you like to draw over
your eyes, the truth remains: Disease and sickness, obesity and
mal-education are still where the real money is. It's just the
Is that too malicious? Too ugly? I'm not so sure. You have but to
ponder: Who wants a healthy and calmly educated populace? Who wants
people attuned and wise, spiritually secure and inwardly stable?
Not the Coca-Cola Corporation. Not Exxon. Not the life insurance
industry or Big Tobacco or Big Pharma. Not the Catholic Church. Not
Yum! Brands, Pfizer, big agribiz and industrial farms, McDonald's,
Kraft Foods, or your local school lunch program. Not most of Congress.
Not Fox News or reality TV or the bleating clown car that is the
Tea Party. Not fundamentalist Christianity, Mormonism or about 89
percent of Texas.
After all, the smarter and healthier you get, the more you are
self-defined, attuned to wisdom and spirit, the less power and
influence they have over your life, and the less they can sell you
swill and poison, false hope and a sour idea of a bitter, vengeful
little God concocted by surly white men in a dank Roman basement
sometime around 300 AD.
Let us examine one little example. It comes in the form of a nasty
news tidbit that hit my in-box recently, courtesy of a thoughtful
and rather horrified reader, in the wake of the greasy fallout over
KFC's famously vile Double Down meat abomination thing.
It's a story that reveals a rather unexpected, but not entirely
shocking little factoid: It turns out the health and life insurance
industries are just hugely invested in the success of the world's
fast food companies.
How hugely? According to the study, in 2009 the big health
insurance companies owned upwards of $2 billion in stock in the biggest garbage food
purveyors in the land. That's a lot of high fructose corn
syrup, guar gum, ethoxylated monoglycerides, hormones, antibiotics,
pesticides and buckets of greasy, synthetically flavored slop,
happily sanctioned and supported by the very companies you would
think very much want you to shun those poisons like the pope shuns
You may then rightly ask: What the hell are they up to? What sort
of nefarious forces are at play? At first glance, maybe you can
excuse it as pure capitalism at work. Large corporations often
invest in other large corporations, seeking any means to making as
much money as possible; principles don't usually factor into
In fact, as the nation just witnessed, it is inherently forbidden
for ethics to come anywhere within a 100-mile radius of Wall
Street. You want to round out your portfolio? Are you seeking some
good cash flow and (relative) long-term stability in the market?
Invest in the classic cornerstones of capitalism: oil, sweatshops,
junk food, pharmaceuticals, weapons manufacturers, industrial
slaughterhouses, coal mining and so on, and tell your soul to shut
the hell up. Daddy needs a new speedboat and some bullets for the
But that's only part of the picture. It takes no effort at all to
peel back one more layer and say that the health insurance industry
obviously has a vested interest in keeping you fat and sick and
ever at their mercy. After all, they're just hedging their
Much like Big Tobacco's brilliant collusion with Big Pharma, both
cheerfully feeding you a slew of lies and misinfo about smoking's
terrible addictiveness on the one hand, while turning right around
and convincing you of the need for expensive drugs and patches,
rehabs and gums on the other in a vicious cycle of shame,
victimhood and failed willpower, so do the health and junk food
companies work together to make each other mountains of cash, with
you as the dumbass hub.
Put it this way: The more successful McDonald's is, the sicker the
nation gets, the higher your insurance premiums will skyrocket, the
more drugs you will demand, the less willpower you will have, the
more you will crave toxic garbage "comfort food," the more you will
believe you're a victim, the less control you will have over the
your body and your life, the happier these companies will be. And
lo, the circle of life continues. Until your heart collapses.
Do not misunderstand. I am not saying these corporations are
intentionally, murderously malevolent. I am stopping just short of
implying a scenario where despicable corporate meatheads sit around
bland boardrooms concocting ways to literally poison and kill you.
Well, not entirely, anyway.
Because the truth is, you're just not that important. Your health
and well-being are entirely incidental to the larger goal - which
is, of course, making a sh*tload of money. If these companies think
of you at all, it's simply as a means to that end. You're just a
bulbous ATM to them. You are, as always, entirely expendable.
Is there any good news? A little. As Michael Pollan pointed out,
as flawed as the health care reform package is, come 2014, we will
still see a dramatic shift, as heathcos will no longer be able to
turn you down for coverage or charge higher rates for pre-existing
conditions. This means they will have a far greater vested interest
in keeping you healthy by eating better and living a tiny bit
Of course, it's still for the most part just a thin, ruthless
charade. The fact remains: They're all still for-profit industries.
Much like how KFC - and its vile parent company, Yum! Brands -
showed that it could give a dead, hormone-engorged chicken about
ethics, corporate responsibility or anyone's overall health, the
instant that many of these companies sense any new path toward
profit, they won't hesitate to glom onto it.
Does that path just so happen to involve poisoning your blood,
crushing your coronary artery, or running right over you in the
street? Well gosh. Too bad for you.
KFC Double Down - a run down -