#treating the symptom

Absurdity in a Soda Tax

on Jan 21, 2010

There’s talk in NY to instate a tax on soda in order to combat obesity. I believe these efforts are commendable because they could realistically reduce soda consumption. But I think the idea is absolutely absurd. We already pay a tax on soda: one that lowers its cost in the first place. Our tax dollars subsidize the production of corn and this greatly deflates the cost of producing soda. The cost of soda is artificially low because of this.

Applying a tax ignores this root of the problem and is instead a superficial fix. We would be much better off if the true price of soda was realistically reflected on the market. This would likely produce a stronger impact than a soda tax. Approaching the root of the problem would be extremely difficult though primarily because industries have a stranglehold on our government and the industries would fight hard to protect their interests. Still, if one part of government has the guts to consider a soda tax, there is hope that it can stand up for its people and not for the industries.

What do you think of the idea of a soda tax?


on Jan 14, 2010

When you’re sick, a fever is actually good for you. This adaptive mechanism works by increasing the body temperature to a level that’s inhospitable to whatever pathogen is making you sick. Oddly enough, many over-the-counter medicines, as such Tylenol, are fever-reducers.  While the medicine makes one feel better, it actually extends the length of illness. The existence of such medicine gives the false impression that a fever is a bad thing. Yes, the presence of a fever does mean that one may be ill, but it also indicates that the body is naturally responding to the illness in a positive way.

However, we still have these medicines on the market. They are potentially misleading because they offer relief from the symptoms of illness (which they do) but they do little, or may even work against, real recovery. Unfortunately, for the public, it isn’t in the interests of drug companies to advertise the true nature of their product. Perhaps the government, which is supposed to represent the interests of the population, should be involved in such matters.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that these drugs should be banned or taken off the market. However, I do believe that anyone that considers these products be aware of their true consequences, negative and positive, to make a realistic decision. Some people may be willing to pay the cost of extended illness if they really want their illness symptoms out of the way for some important moment. That’s their decision to make and it should be an informed one rather that a misled one. Recent medical advice is consistent with the science as it states to “let the fever run its course.”  Perhaps there is hope in attaining greater transparency on drugs.

What are your thoughts on these over-the-counter drugs and do you use them?

Treating the Symptoms

on Jan 14, 2010

Be mindful of the part of a problem you approach. Is it the root of the issue or rather just a symptom? Treating the symptom – the effect – of an issue rarely takes care of the issue itself and actually makes you worse off because it gives you the false impression that the issue is no more. The problem will likely crop up again, and if not, may manifest itself as another symptom. However, if you tackle the root – the cause – of the problem, all symptoms will also disappear.

Now of course I’m stating the obvious with this simple principle. However, we often mix up cause and effect when approaching real world problems.While  making this distinction is sometimes difficult, it should not be ignored. It may very well make the difference between legitimately creating a solution and wasting a good deal of time and resources on fruitless pursuits.

What are real life problems where we’re treating the symptoms instead of the root of the issue?