Author: Christopher Vogt

You Can’t Take the Politics out of Healthcare

This past week, I found myself considering the feasibility of constructing a spider hole as a handy way to avoid hearing or reading or saying anything more about abortion or contraception or religious freedom for a while.   The Obama administration’s recent HHS exemption decision  (you know about this unless you have  been in your own spider hole) had combined with  the announcement that “Susan G. Komen for the Cure” (a leading breast cancer charity) was severing ties with Planned Parenthood to create what has been a perfect storm of political controversy from which angry cries of “To hell with you!” and much worse could be heard.    In the midst of all of this angry debate, I would have thought it would be obvious to everyone that we have a major political controversy on our hands.  And yet, one of the things that keeps coming up in the midst of these debates is the claim to be above politics.  For example, yesterday New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was cutting a $250,000 check to Planned Parenthood.  In a statement, the mayor said that “Politics have no place in health care.”  Of course this is absurd.  The very notion that women should have free and widespread access to cancer screening is itself a political claim.  It’s a claim that we as a society have an obligation to...

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Fasting and Food Security

I spoke at an event marking the celebration of World Food Day a few weeks ago. Although the name might conjure images of an international food bazaar in your local market or cafeteria, it’s actually an occasion to take account of how well (or poorly) the global community is meeting the great challenge of feeding the world’s growing human population. Unfortunately, the news is quite grim.   This year’s theme was “Food Prices: From Crisis to Stability.” In case you haven’t noticed, the price of food has gone through the roof. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, the cost of food reached an all-time record high in 2011, rising nearly 90% from 2006-2011. This dramatic rise in food prices has caused a major reversal of progress made toward eliminating undernourishment and malnutrition worldwide. One of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals is to cut in half (during the period 1990-2015) the number of people who suffer from hunger worldwide. In the 1990’s, some progress was made; the global percentage of people who were undernourished declined from about 20% to 16%. But even that progress is somewhat misleading. The absolute number of undernourished people stayed constant at about 800 million during that period of time; the percentage of people undernourished fell only because the world’s overall population grew. In the last few years, matters have grown...

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