Health Care Allegory

Welcome to the town of Allopath

There once was a town called Allopath. It had many people, streets
and cars, but due to budget limitations, there were no stop signs or
traffic lights anywhere in Allopath.

Not surprisingly, traffic accidents were common. Cars would crash
into each other at nearly every intersection. But business was booming
for the auto repair shops and local hospitals, which dominated the
economy of Allopath.

As the population of Allopath grew, traffic accidents increased to an
alarming level. Out of desperation, the city council hired Doctor West,
a doctor of the Motor Division (M.D.) to find a solution.

Dr. West spent days examining traffic accidents. He carried an
assortment of technical gear -- microscopes, chemical analysis
equipment, lab gear -- and put them all to work as part of his
investigation. The townspeople of Allopath watched on with great
curiosity while Dr. West went about his work, meticulously documenting
and analyzing each traffic accident, and they awaited his final report
with great interest.

After weeks of investigation, Dr. West called the people of Allopath
to a town meeting for the release of his report. There, in front of
the city council and most of the residents of Allopath, he announced
his findings: "Traffic accidents are caused by skid marks."

As Dr. West explained, he found and documented a near-100%
correlation between traffic accidents and skid marks. "Wherever we
find these cars colliding," he explained, "we also find these skid

The town had "Skid Marks Disease," the doctor explained, and the
answer to the town's epidemic of traffic accidents would, "...require
nothing more than treating Skid Marks Disease by making the streets
skid-proof," Dr. West exclaimed, to great applause from the

The city paid Dr. West his consulting fee, then asked the good doctor
to propose a method for treating this Skid Marks Disease. As chance
would have it, Dr. West had recently been on a trip to Hawaii paid for
by a chemical company that manufactured roadaceuticals: special
chemicals used to treat roads for situations just like this one. He
recommended a particular chemical coating to the city council: teflon.

"We can treat this Skid Marks Disease by coating the roads with
teflon," Dr. West explained. "The streets will then be skid-proof, and
all the traffic accidents will cease!" He went on to describe the
physical properties of teflon and how its near-frictionless coating
would deter nearly all vehicle skids.

The city council heartily agreed with Dr. West, and they issued new
public bonds to raise the money required to buy enough teflon to coat
all the city's streets. Within weeks, the streets were completely
coated, and the skid marks all but disappeared.

The city council paid Dr. West another consulting fee and thanked him
for his expertise. The problem of traffic accidents in Allopath was
solved, they thought. Although the cure was expensive, they were
convinced it was worth it.

But things weren't well in Allopath. Traffic accidents quadrupled.
Hospital beds were overflowing with injured residents. Auto repair
businesses were booming so much that most of the city council members
decided to either open their own car repair shops or invest in
existing ones.

Week after week, more and more residents of Allopath were injured,
and their cars were repeatedly damaged. Money piled into the pockets
of the car repair shops, hospitals, tow truck companies and car parts

The town economic advisor, observing this sharp increase in economic
activity, announced that Allopath was booming. Its economy was
healthier than ever, and Allopath could look forward to a great year
of economic prosperity!

There were jobs to be had at the car repair shops. There were more
nurses needed at the hospital. "Help wanted" signs appeared all over
town at the paramedic station, the tow truck shops, and the auto glass
businesses. Unemployment dropped to near zero.

But the traffic accidents continued to increase. And yet there were
no skid marks.

The city council was baffled. They thought they had solved this
problem. Skid Marks Disease had been eradicated by the teflon
treatment. Why were traffic accidents still happening?

They called a town meeting to discuss the problem, and following a
short discussion of the problem, an old hermit, who lived in the
forest just outside of Allopath, addressed the townspeople. "There is
no such thing as Skid Marks Disease," he explained. "This disease was
invented by the roadaceuticals company to sell you teflon coatings."

The townspeople were horrified to hear such a statement. They knew
Skid Marks Disease existed. The doctor had told them so. How could
this hermit, who had no Motor Division (M.D.) degree, dare tell them
otherwise? How could he question their collective town wisdom in such
a way?

"This is a simple problem," the hermit continued. "All we need to do
is build stop signs and traffic lights. Then the traffic accidents
will cease."

Without pause, one city council member remarked, "But how can we
afford stop signs? We've spent all our money on teflon treatments!"

The townspeople agreed. They had no money to buy stop signs.

Another council member added, "And how can we stop anyway? The
streets are all coated with teflon. If we build stop signs, we'll
waste all the money we've spent on teflon!"

The townspeople agreed, again. What use were stop signs if they
couldn't stop their cars anyway?

The hermit replied, "But the stop signs will eliminate the need for
teflon. People will be able to stop their cars, and accidents will
cease. The solution is simple."

But what might happen if stop signs actually worked, the townspeople
wondered. How would it affect the booming economy of Allopath?
Realizing the consequences, a burly old man who owned a local repair
shop jumped to his feet and said, "If we build these stop signs, and
traffic accidents go down, I'll have to fire most of my workers!"

It was at that moment that most of the townspeople realized there own
jobs were at stake. If stop signs were built, nearly everyone would be
unemployed. They all had jobs in emergency response services, car
repair shops, hospitals and teflon coating maintenance. Some were now
sales representatives of the roadaceuticals company. Others were
importers of glass, tires, steel and other parts for cars. A few
clever people were making a fortune selling wheelchairs and crutches
to accident victims.

One enterprising young gentleman started a scientific journal that
published research papers describing all the different kind of Skid
Marks Diseases that had been observed and documented. Another person,
a fitness enthusiast, organized an annual run to raise funds to find
the cure for Skid Marks Disease. It was a popular event, and all the
townspeople participated as best they could: jogging, walking, or just
pushing themselves along in their wheelchairs.

One way or another, nearly everyone in Allopath was economically tied
to Skid Marks Disease.

Out of fear of losing this economic prosperity, the townspeople voted
to create a new public safety agency: the Frequent Drivers Association
(FDA). This FDA would be responsible for approving or rejecting all
signage, technology and chemical coatings related to the town's roads.

The FDA's board members were chosen from among the business leaders
of the community: the owner of the car shop, the owner of the
ambulance company, and of course, Dr. West.

Soon after its inception, the FDA announced that Skid Marks Disease
was, indeed, very real, as it had been carefully documented by a
doctor and recently published in the town Skid Marks Disease journal.
Since there were no studies whatsoever showing stop signs to be
effective for reducing traffic accidents, the FDA announced that stop
signs were to be outlawed, and that any person attempting to sell stop
signs would be charged with fraud and locked up in the town jail.

This pleased the townspeople of Allopath. With the FDA, they knew
their jobs were safe. They could go on living their lives of economic
prosperity, with secure jobs, knowing that the FDA would outlaw any
attempt to take away their livelihood. They still had a lot of traffic
accidents, but at least their jobs were secure.

And so life continued in Allopath. For a short while, at least. As
traffic accidents continued at a devastating rate, more and more
residents of Allopath were injured or killed. Many were left
bed-ridden, unable to work, due to their injuries.

In time, the population dwindled. The once-booming town of Allopath
eventually became little more than a ghost town. The hospital closed
its doors, the FDA was disbanded, and the Skid Marks Disease journal
stopped printing.

The few residents remaining eventually realized nothing good had come
of Skid Marks Disease, the teflon coatings and the FDA. No one was any
better off, as all the town's money had been spent on the disease: the
teflon coatings, car parts and emergency services. No one was any
healthier, or happier, or longer-lived. Most, in fact, had lost their
entire families to Skid Marks Disease.

And the hermit? He continued to live just outside of town, at the end
of a winding country road, where he lived a simple life with no cars,
no roads, no teflon coatings and no FDA.

He outlived every single resident of Allopath. He gardened, took long
walks through the forest, and gathered roots, leaves and berries to
feed himself. In his spare time, he constructed stop signs, waiting
for the next population to come along, and hoping they might listen to
an old hermit with a crazy idea:

...that prevention is the answer, not the treatment of symptoms.


This fable was authored by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. You may
reprint or repost, as long as appropriate credit is given to Mike
Adams at