Redevelop Oakwood to support a healthier lifestyle
Earlier this year, I offered an idea for a way to redevelop Oakwood for the common good. This letter offers some additional information on that idea. I wonder if the social, economic and environmental benefits that could come reusing Oakwood in a way that I suggested could outweigh any tax dollars that could come from using it for a combination shopping plaza and apartment complex.
In 1981, about 10% of our Gross National Product was healthcare related.
In 2010, about 17% of our Gross Domestic Product was healthcare related, while the average for our western European competitors was about 9%.
In 1981, there was concern over the rapid rise in healthcare costs and the medical community linked much of the rise to a set of unhealthy behaviors.
Those unhealthy behaviors included: 1) eating a poor diet; 2) using tobacco; abusing alcohol and/or other drugs; and, 4) favoring a sedentary existence.
Today, there is even greater concern over the rapid rise in healthcare costs and the reasons for the rise are the same as those identified 30 years ago.
Despite the size of our healthcare outlays, our health outcomes are sub-par.
Predictably, health problems like diabetes have developed into health crises.
We must do more to help our neighbors adopt smarter, healthier behaviors.
Since effective behavior modification often requires an integrated approach, and since our current healthcare system is too costly, we must use cheaper common-sense approaches to bring about better behavior whenever we can.
These approaches can fill the holes in our hospital-centric healthcare system.
An abundance of misinformation has always complicated the resolution of difficult problems that have come before our society, including almost all those related to the way we manage and protect the natural environment.
As a result, our record of environmental missteps has been long and costly; some examples of our environmental misdeeds include the following items:
- We discharge 4.5 billion gallons of raw sewage into Lake Erie yearly.
- Our fascination with gas-guzzling motor vehicles remains unchecked.
- Our land-use policies today are no better than those from the 1800s.
- Our appetite for cheap goods brings misery to ports like Long Beach, California where asthma and lung cancer rates are at all-time highs.
Mercifully, the challenge is not that our society is incapable of doing better; it is that our society simply lacks the knowledge to do so, and that's fixable.
We need practical instruction to become better stewards of the environment.
We need to understand the linkage between a healthy planet and our future just as we need to understand the issues that surround that critical linkage.
All of us can acquire this knowledge and many of us are ready to start now.
Lower-skilled workers have borne the brunt of the globalized economy and, as a result, the gap between the "haves and have-nots" has grown wider.
Now, even Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank and a well-known Libertarian, has gone on record to say that the emerging income gap has gotten so great as to have a destabilizing effect on society.
With our once-dominate manufacturing base having been eviscerated, many of our neighbors have had to look for employment within the service sector.
Sadly, service sector jobs are often not as good as those in manufacturing; many jobs in retailing, for example, provide low wages and meager benefits.
What's worse, the surplus of lower-skilled workers has left many vulnerable to being whipsawed in a labor market driven by efficiency and nothing else.
We cannot let so many of our neighbors pay such a heavy economic price.
Now that we understand the downside of globalization, we must take steps to create jobs that: 1) can't be outsourced; and, 2) offer a sense of dignity.
For some of our neighbors, the best thing we can do for them is to provide educational opportunities that are both affordable and vocationally oriented.
For others, the best thing we can do is to help them become entrepreneurs.
Bill Cimino is a concerned citizen of the world around us and a management consultant.