Salt, health, and socialism

When it comes to health care and economic development, socialists hold that planning, public control of development, and strict regulation of industry and finance is preferable to an uncontrolled and unaccountable “free” market. There is scientific evidence favoring the socialist view.

Science Daily (SD) reported on November 1 that the journal HEART published findings of an Australian research team that found when the state imposes mandatory limits to the amount of salt private industry adds to processed foods (the more salt the greater the health risk), the results of the reduction in salt content “could be 20 times more effective than voluntary curbs by industry.”

SD reminds us that higher salt content is directly related to greater risks of heart disease and strokes. It is therefore incumbent on any government that cares about the health and well being of its citizens to see to it that the private economic benefits aimed at by the private sector do not trump the health needs of the general population when it comes to the level of salt added to the food supply.

The scientists compared the results that obtain in three scenarios. Taking 6 grams per day of salt as the recommended maximum amount to be consumed, they then studied and compared the results of mandatory state regulations, voluntary compliance by private industry, and compliance by individuals with health problems who were told by their medical doctors to reduce their salt intake.

You might think sick people and people at risk would show the highest level of compliance in eliminating salt from their diets, thus making for a healthier population. But the Australian scientists found if people were left to their own devices with only “doctor’s orders” then cardiovascular disease in the general population would only decrease by 0.5%. Not very impressive.

If the government relied on voluntary compliance and only cajoled the processed food industry to reduce the excess salt they contaminate their products with (they add as much salt as they can because the junk they sell would have no taste otherwise), then cardiovascular disease in the general population would decrease by about 1%. Well, that is a 100% improvement over the “doctor’s orders” group, but no way near getting people down to 6 grams a day.

However, if the government mandated a healthy salt level in processed foods and made private industry comply, the scientists calculated that there would be a reduction of about 18% in cardiovascular disease in the general population.

The scientists say, however, when dealing with a large population of millions of people even the 1% decrease of cardiovascular disease brought about by voluntary compliance is “substantial.” But it pales, I think, when compared with the 18% that government regulation would achieve. The government-imposed regulations amount to an almost 20-fold decrease over voluntary curbs.

The scientists also point out that salt “is not essential at such high levels” as it is found when added to food. It is just a cheap (but horribly unhealthy) way to make the product palatable.

The scientists conclude their study with these words: “Food manufacturers have a responsibility to make money for their shareholders, but they also have a responsibility to society. If corporate responsibility fails, maybe there is an ethical justification for government to step in and legislate.”

“Maybe?” The only government that really serves the people and not the vested interests would be a socialist government and there would be no maybe about it for a socialist government. Come to think about it, there wouldn’t be any shareholders either.



Thomas Riggins
Thomas Riggins

Thomas Riggins has a background in philisophy, anthropology and archeology. He writes from New York, NY. Riggins was associate editor of Political Affairs magazine.