Why is an Ounce of Prevention less valued than a Pound of Cure?
Over the past two decades of my study of and my practice in medicine, I have always been perplexed by the disconnect between the principle and the application of the proverb, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Given the meteoric rise of non-communicable, social and mental diseases and the cost of their treatment and their burden to society, I would have guessed that policy makers would have made health promotion and disease prevention a top priority, and resources locally, regionally and internationally would have been invested in elucidating the determinants of health promotion and disease prevention and implementing the wisdom of that enlightenment.
Truth be told, much has been discovered over the past decade on adverse childhood experiences and the long-lasting effects on physical, mental and social diseases. Also Sir Michael Marmot and his collaborators have investigated the social determinants of health and have shown unequivocally that social gradients of inequality in terms of access to the basic means of life growth and development does in fact affect life expectancies and disability-adjusted-life-years. Given this trove of empirical data to guide our policy and decision makers, one would have thought that major steps would have been taken at the local, regional and international level to remedy the social deficiencies in our homes, our schools and workplace environments that would serve to minimise adverse childhood, adolescent, adult and elderly experiences and optimise the social, economic and political environments to produce enabling policies that would inform and encourage healthier lifestyles.
I have come to realise, thanks to my discovery of Prof John McMurtry’s work, that we have a systemic and structural dysfunction of thinking, perceiving and understanding that has valued money-profit maximization and the financial health of transnational corporations, rather than inclusively coherent life-value optimisation of the physical, mental and social health of people and the planet. Interestingly, in addition to people and planet, the sustainable development goals of the UN point also to the principles of peace, prosperity and partnership, and here again the application of these principles takes on a world of different meaning depending on whether we use as our ground, compass and bearing money-value coordinates as opposed to life-value coordinates to guide us in our individual and collective endeavours.
I am convinced more than ever before that what we see around us are symptoms of a system disorder which we have inherited that goes to the heart of our governance principles, as enshrined in our constitutions, and have entailed the different institutions of our nation states to operate implicitly and explicitly to override all life-enabling interests on the behest of money-maximizing vested interests. So in effect we have inherited a constitutional elective dictatorship that demands servitude to the money-capital ownership of the market rather than a constitutional elected stewardship that enables service and accessibility to all life-capital in our communities and of our planet.
As a result, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the most powerful nation on earth, corporations have as much rights as people, and money is equal to free speech. When we talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, these do not apply as much to us humans but more to the “livelihood” of corporations (national and transnational) to be protected and bailed out if needs be, the freedom of money-capital to flow to where and be extracted from wherever the money masters so desire, in pursuit of profit maximization (aka happiness). As a result, all of us humans have a price tag and can be bought, even the politicians, priests, judges and the media personnel. Democracy is no longer compatible with the present money-value system and the wishes and aspirations of the majority now take a back seat to the whims and fancies of the elite minority who have mastered the rules of the game in distorting the market for their gains via oligopolies. It matters not how much lives have been destroyed, liberties have been curtailed, and the pursuit of a good and flourishing happy life have been diminished for the majority of the people and the planet. What matters now is that the market and money-value creation be maximised by whatever means necessary, be it by asset bubbles, share buy-backs, creation of false flag operations locally, regionally and internationally, so as to manufacture money-valued but life-disvalued operations like the weapons-security-agrobusiness-pharmaceutical industrial complexes to feed its voracious appetite from one manufactured problem-reaction-solution cycle after the other.
Instead of focusing and stewarding the life supporting systems of our planet and societies, and ensuring that our sustainable development goals are based on the life-valued principles and its application around people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership, we are dictated to by the money supporting system of markets and the regulating drivers of the transnational corporations and their investor protection rights agreements all done in secret and behind closed doors, knowing fully well that they do not support any life-valued purpose but that only of their money-valued interests. It is ironic that in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness of money-capital they have created a very fragile ecosystem of money changers around the globe in the form of international financial centers and institutions that work by fiat in clandestine communist-inspired fashion without any life-ground guiding them. Instead of helping to steward and nurture our social and natural life support systems, the modus operandi of this money-valued world order ends up putting our life security at risk, all at the individual, social and planetary level. In its stead we have invented financial contracts, financial instruments and stock exchanges that have endeavoured but failed to securitize that life-risk in money-value terms, in terms of future options, mortgage-backed securities, collateralized bond obligations, credit default swaps, and in its latest reincarnation, the bespoke tranche opportunities.
Given how the local, regional and international system is gerrymandered by vested money-interests to create rules that see all life-capital as externalities and are not factored into their decision-making process, we should not be surprised that the dictum that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is not taken seriously, as it would seriously distort the prime directive of the money-market of continuous growth without limit, even if it ends up life-blindly destroying the natural world.
Imagine for a moment if we all work to maintain and sustain and steward our social and natural life support systems, if all the means of life are accessible to those who need it, if the integrity of our life support systems is the source of our security, where our vulnerabilities are reduced and our resiliences and life-reserves are maximised. Imagine for a moment that there is less conflict in the world as our system and structural dysfunction in thinking, perceiving and understanding are now rebased and reset on coherently inclusive life-valued principles and its true application. Imagine for a moment that we can identify the people and the planetary environments that are at risk of negative life-outcomes, and we can now invest in policies and programs to correct them as a matter of urgency. What would be the return on investment in life capital? Imagine for a moment we have addressed the social determinants of health and are able to prevent or reduce the diseases in our midst, be they physical, mental or social. What would happen to the financial health of the weapons-security-agrobusiness-pharmaceutical industrial complexes and would they serve as barriers or facilitators to making the imaginations above a reality?
I am convinced that we would never have peace, shared life-prosperity and full life-partnership among people and planet if we do not transform our regulating group mind from one based on life-blind money value to one based on life-value. It is only when this transformation has occurred will we begin to see health principles in all of our policies and the true value of prevention will override the profit potential of treatment and rehabilitation of our physical, mental, social and environmental ills. Unless we stop profitting off of our preventable and avoidable problems, we will never stop manufacturing problems for profiteering sake!!
It is only when return on investment on life capital trumps the global initiative (pardon the puns) of return on investment on money capital, and only when the market imperative of money-valued economic growth and pay-for-money-valued performance takes a backseat to life-valued civil commons growth and development and to the provision-of-means-of-life-performance, respectively, that the world will truly know peace and prosperity, with people and planet in true life-partnership. This can only happen if we build together the narrative and the rules of engagement that no longer undermine and run roughshod over the life ground of our life-supporting and operating systems. This would be a system transformation that our ancestors and our children and future generations can be truly proud of, as we reground and rebase our true humanity in the evolution and recycling of life capital, in one love, one peace and with one joy based on life-coherent harmony.
Given the escalating threat of climate destabilization and nuclear catastrophe that is an ever-present danger, it is time now to heed, and make life-value principles incorporated in all policies from the national to the supranational levels, so as to protect all of life, from the least among us and even the unborn, to the greatest among us. We all have been victims of this dysfunctional regulating group mind for far too long, and all have unwittingly played the role of slaves to the system drivers, and have gained or lost money capital and life capital, given the cards we were dealt based on time, place, genes, environmental exposures and other inheritances of the system. As the problem does not lie at the individual level but at the societal level of life organisation, and our rules and institutions inclusive of our monetary and fiscal systems are social constructs, we can help evolve and enliven our social systems structures with life values through and through. I cannot see any other avenue of deliberation and exploration and emancipation from the tentacles of this cancerous stage of capitalism that has impacted more negatively than positively every aspect of our lives.
Although many lives have been lost along the way, both at the societal and planetary level, let us endeavour to show that their lives have not been in vain, and it was their suffering that has opened our minds to a better world our hearts know is possible. Let us take seriously the lessons learnt, as summarised in this article, to celebrate the gifts of life and love and prosperity, that the partnership of people and planet brings to the table of bountiful life-blessings. It is only in this spirit and the letter of our future laws and covenants that the wisdom of “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” would be truly and magnificently manifest.
The following short video explains why our econocmic theories are incomplete and may be flawed and divisive, and why we need to rebase our economic theories with life-value preventative principles with enforceable life-protection laws for people and planet. This would also help to prevent wars, poverty and marginalisaiton of people and destruction of the planet, and thus prevent life-destabilisation, and enable life flourishing at all levels from the individual, to the social and the planetary levels of life organisation.