martes, 19 de septiembre de 2017

Insanely Concentrated Wealth Is Strangling Our Prosperity

Today’s mountains of wealth throttle the very engine of wealth creation itself.

Remember Smaug the dragon, in The Hobbit? He hoarded up a vast pile of wealth, and then he just hung out in his cave, sitting on it (with occasional forays to further pillage and immolate the local populace).
That’s what you should think of when you consider the mind-boggling hoards of wealth that the very rich have amassed in America over the last forty years. The picture at right only shows the very tippy-top of the scale. In 1976 the richest people had $35 million each (in 2014 dollars). In 2014 they had $420 million each — a twelvefold increase. You can be sure it’s gotten even more extreme since then.

Bottom (visible) pink line is the top 10%.
These people could spend $20 million every year and they’d still just keep getting richer, forever, even if they did absolutely nothing except choose some index funds, watch their balances grow, and shop for a new yacht for their eight-year-old.
If you’re thinking that they “deserve” all that wealth, and all that income just for owning stuff, because they’re “makers,” think again: between 50% and 70% of U.S. household wealth is “earned” the old-fashioned way (cue John Houseman voice): it’s inherited.
The bottom 90% of Americans aren’t even visible on this chart — and it’s a very tall chart. The scale of wealth inequality in America today makes our crazy levels of income inequality (which have also expanded vastly) look like a Marxist utopia.
American households’ total wealth is about $95 trillion. That’s more than three-quarters of a million dollars for every American household. But roughly 50% of households have zero or negative wealth.
Now of course you don’t expect 20-year-olds to have much or any wealth; there will always be households with none. But still, the environment for young households trying to build a comfortable and secure nest egg — the American dream? — has gotten wildly competitive and hostile over recent decades. (If we had a sovereign wealth fund, everyone would have a wealth share from birth.)
But here’s what’s even more egregious: that concentrated wealth is strangling our economy, our economic growth, our national prosperity. Wealth concentration drives a vicious, downward cycle, throttling the very engine of wealth creation itself.
Because: people with lots of money don’t spend it. They just sit on it, like Smaug in his cave. The more money you have, the less of it you spend every year. If you have $10,000, you might spend it this year. If you have $10 million, you’re not gonna. If you have $1,000, you’re at least somewhat likely to spend it this month.
Here’s one picture of what that looks like (data sources):
These broad quintile averages obviously don’t put across the realities of the very poor and the very rich; each quintile spans 25 million households. But the picture is clear. The bottom quintiles turn over 40% or 50% of their wealth every year. The richest quintile turns over 5%. For a given amount of wealth, wider wealth dispersion means more spending. It’s arithmetic.
Now go back to those top-.01% households. They have about $5 trillion between them. Imagine that they had half that much instead (the suffering), and the rest was spread out among all American households — about $20,000 each.
Assume that all those lower-quintile households spend about 40% of their wealth every year. They each get to spend an extra $8,000, and enjoy the results. Sounds nice. And it’s spending that simply won’t happen with concentrated wealth. The money will just sit there.
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Now obviously just transferring $2.5 trillion dollars, one time, is not going to achieve this imagined nirvana. Nor is it bloody well likely to happen. That example is just to illustrate the arithmetic. Absent some serious changes in our wildly skewed income distribution (plus capital gains, the overwhelmingly dominant mechanism of wealth accumulation, which don’t count as “income”), that wealth would just get sucked back up to the very rich, like it has, increasingly, for the past forty years — and really, the past several thousand years.
If wealth is consistently more widely dispersed — like it was after WW II — the extra spending that results causes more production. (Why, exactly, do you think producers produce things?) And production produces a surplus — value in, more value out. It’s the ultimate engine of wealth creation. In this little example, we’re talking a trillion dollars a year in additional spending and production. GDP would be 5.5% higher.
If you want to claim that the extra spending would just raise prices, consider the last 20 years. Or the last three decades, in Japan. And if you think concentrated wealth causes better investment and greater wealth accumulation, ask yourself: what economic theory says that $95 trillion in concentrated wealth will result in more or better investment than $95 trillion in broadly dispersed wealth? Our financial system is supposed to intermediateall that, right?
Or ask yourself: would Apple be as successful as it is if its business model was based on selling eight-million-dollar diamond-encrusted iPhones? Broad prosperity is what made Apple, Apple. Concentrated wealth distorts producers’ incentives, so they produce, for instance, a million-dollar Maserati instead of forty (40) $25,000 Toyotas — because that’s what the people with the money are buying. Which delivers more prosperity and well-being?
This little envelope calc is describing a far more prosperous, comfortable, and secure society — far richer and and one hopes far more peaceful than the one we’re facing under wildly concentrated wealth. With the possible exception of a few very rich multi-generational dynasties, everyone’s grandchildren will be far better off 50 years from now if wealth is more widely dispersed. And over that half century, hundreds of millions, even billions of people will live far richer, better lives.
Why wouldn’t we want that? Why wouldn’t we do that? (We know the answer: rich people hate the idea — even those who aren’t all that rich but foolishly buy into the whole trickle-down fantasy. And the rich people…have the power.)
By contrast to that possibility, here’s what things look like over the last seven decades:
Here are the results — growth in GDP per capita:
The last time economic growth broke 5% was in 1984. And the decline continues.
So how do we get there, given that we’ve mostly failed to do so for millennia? Start with a tax system that actually is progressive, like we had, briefly, during the postwar heyday of rampant and widespread American growth and prosperity. And greatly expand the social platform and springboard that gives tens of millions more Americans a place to stand, where they can move the world.
All of this dweebish arithmetic, of course, doesn’t put across the real crux of the thing: power. Money is power. So it is, so it has been, and so it shall be in our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes (world without end, amen). This is especially true for minorities, who have been so thoroughly screwed by our recent Great Whatever. Money is the power to walk away from a shitty job. To hire fancy lawyers and lobbyists, maybe even buy yourself a politician or two. If we want minorities to have power, they need to have money.
Add to that dignity, and respect, which is deserved by every child born: sadly but truly, they are delivered to those who have money. You can bemoan that reality, but in the meantime, let’s concentrate on the money.
If you want to create a workers’ utopia, a better world for all, seize the wealth and income.
2017 September 18
Data Sources
The data for the tall chart is from Gabriel Zucman, PSZ2016AppendixTablesII(Distrib).xlsx Table TE3. Google sheet with data and chart here.
Average wealth by quintile is from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance (SCF), scf2013_tables_internal_nominal.xls, Table 4. (Top 20% wealth in the table above is an average of the means for 80-90% and 90-100%.) The most recent triannual SCF release, covering 1989-2013, determined the year chosen for the table. The next release, through 2016, should be out imminently.
Spending by quintile is from the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX; earlier years here), Table 1101 (adjusted; see below): All anual expenditure-by-quintile tables 1984-2016 in one spreadsheet here.
Note: Measuring expenditures is very difficult, especially the spending of the very rich. They’re not keen to answer lengthy surveys like the CEX, given that they don’t even want their housekeepers to know that they paid $6 for a loaf of bread. As a result, CEX — which breaks out spending by quintile — missesabout 40% (xlsx) of the spending tallied in the BEA’s Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) — which doesn’t. As a rough corrective for that discrepancy, the spending-by-quintile figures in the table above are CEX measures multiplied by 1.66. This “PCE correction” results in far more plausible spending figures, especially for the top 20%: Average $165,000 in 2103 annual spending versus CEX’s $100,000.

domingo, 17 de septiembre de 2017

El mito del amor romántico puede estar arruinando su salud

En las sociedades occidentales, el amor romántico se suele presentar mediante el tópico de las dos mitades anhelantes que se buscan la una a la otra

En las sociedades occidentales, el amor romántico se suele presentar mediante el tópico de las dos mitades anhelantes que se buscan la una a la otra para hallar su estado prístino y completo. Pocos alcanzan esa dicha, ya que se trata de un mito que se remonta a Platón. En la mitología griega, los amantes perfectos estaban unidos y fueron divididos en dos. El amor, por lo tanto, es el deseo de cada una de esas partes de encontrar a la que ha perdido.
Este mito pervive en la cultura popular, las historias de amor y las comedias románticas, e influye en nuestra identidad social, que en muchos casos está formada por representaciones estereotípicas y programadas de las relaciones. Con frecuencia, de manera menos consciente, seguimos buscando nuestra “media naranja” –el ideal–, pero las tasas de divorcio demuestran que ese ideal no existe.
Con frecuencia seguimos buscando nuestra “media naranja” –el ideal–, pero las tasas de divorcio demuestran que ese ideal no existe
Hoy en día, mucha gente escapa al mundo virtual en su búsqueda de la relación ideal. Las citas por Internet, el flirteo mediante mensajes y el sextingse suelen utilizar como antídoto para la soledad, la falta de intimidad y la dolorosa experiencia de la pérdida. En el ciberespacio podemos ser quienes deseemos y lo que deseemos. Esto nos proporciona placer, pero nos seduce y nos arrastra a lo imaginario, al universo del inconsciente, donde los deseos que ni siquiera sabíamos que teníamos son satisfechos inmediatamente en el mundo virtual.
Es fácil convertirse en adicto a ese mundo porque el amor de la vida real no puede competir con él. A algunas personas les resulta difícil, o incluso imposible, volver a la realidad, como muestran la creciente adicción a Internet y la infidelidad en la Red. Esto puede dar lugar a diversas reacciones emocionales (estrés, desesperación, ira, dolor) y conductuales (peleas, consumo vengativo de pornografía, divorcio, drogodependencia, bulimia o anorexia). La relación entre el estrés, la herida sentimental (las patologías amorosas), y la salud mental (depresión, trastornos obsesivos compulsivos, insomnio) y física (agotamiento) está bien documentada.

Las consecuencias del amor

Las consecuencias a largo plazo no se conocen tan bien, pero nos las podemos imaginar. Sabemos que la calidad de nuestras relaciones y circunstancias sociales puede tener una repercusión profunda en nuestro cerebro.
A algunas personas les resulta difícil, o incluso imposible, volver a la realidad, como muestran la creciente adicción a Internet
Los recientes avances en epigenética–un conjunto de modificaciones de nuestro material genético que cambia la manera en que los genes se activan y desactivan sin alterar los genes en sí­– indica que existe una relación entre las experiencias sociales, la expresión de los genes, los cambios neurobiológicos y la variación en la conducta. Un conjunto de pruebas cada vez más extenso explica cómo el entorno social penetra en nuestra mente mediante mecanismos epigenéticos, y cómo estos afectan a nuestra descendencia. En otras palabras, los efectos físicos producidos por las experiencia sociales se pueden transmitir.
Si las emociones, los pensamientos conscientes y las creencias inconscientes efectivamente forman parte de nuestro entorno social e influyen en nuestros genes a través de los mecanismos epigenéticos, ¿cuáles son las posibles consecuencias a largo plazo del mito del amor romántico? Y si los procesos epigenéticos desempeñan un papel importante en los trastornos psiquiátricos, y las patologías amorosas (las heridas sentimentales) pueden traducirse en problemas de salud mental, ¿es posible establecer una relación entre ambos? A falta de estudios de cohorte longitudinales, en los que se observa al mismo grupo de personas durante un largo periodo de tiempo, sencillamente, todavía no lo sabemos.
Lo que sí sabemos es que las ideas construidas socialmente del amor romántico y el matrimonio son parte integrante de nuestro yo
Pero lo que sí sabemos es que las ideas construidas socialmente del amor romántico y el matrimonio son parte integrante de nuestro yo. Empiezan en la primera infancia y se prolongan a lo largo de la adolescencia y la edad adulta. Teclee “amor romántico” en Google y verá lo que sale. Consciente o inconscientemente, desarrollamos expectativas sobre nuestras relaciones amorosas e intentamos hacerlas realidad. Cuando esas ideas son inalcanzables, el estrés no se puede evitar. Y el impacto del estrés en nuestro sistema inmunitario, en nuestro corazón y en nuestra salud mental ha sido sobradamente atestiguado.
Ya es hora de que dejemos de perseguir un amor ficticio. Los actos de amor son tan diversos como las personas que los intercambian. A menudo son prosaicos, pero solícitos. Si acabamos con el mito del amor romántico, podremos empezar a tener expectativas más realistas de las relaciones y, con ello, a vivir unas vidas más sanas y felices.

viernes, 25 de agosto de 2017

Where have all the good women gone? Men fight back with a vengeance against the women who SLAMMED chaps today as boring, grumpy slobs

Five single men share why they've struggled to find women worth dating
They ask if it is possible to find considerate women who don't want to rush things
One psychotherapist blames online dating and pornography for complications

He is what you might call, with some understatement, a catch. Chris Gray, 57, is tall and attractive with dark hair and blue eyes.

By his own admission, he is ‘very well‑off’, owns several properties, including a £1.3 million terraced house in affluent Chiswick, West London, and is financially set for life, thanks to a series of successful investments.

A widower, Chris is educated and well‑travelled — in part thanks to his previous career as a BBC cameraman of 30 years’ standing.

The cherry on the cake? For hobbies, he flies small aircraft and enjoys dining in Michelin-starred restaurants.

Five single men shared why they've struggled to find women worth dating. Chris Gray, 57, (pictured) says 'I’m all for female equality, so why do 99 per cent of women expect me to always foot the bill'

So why, you might wonder, has Chris joined the growing band of British men, old and young, who have sworn off women for ever?

It’s simple, he says. There simply aren’t any good women out there.

‘I have given up. I have many female friends, but I can’t be bothered to deal with all the hang-ups and complications other women have,’ he says.

‘Often, at my stage in life, many of them are divorced and seem full of bitterness and anger.’

That’s certainly not the only complaint single men such as Chris direct at potential female partners they meet.

Indeed, after the Mail recently recounted the stories of attractive single women who appeared to have everything, yet said they still couldn’t find a decent man, there was a significant backlash from male readers.

Men told us in their droves that it wasn’t they who were to blame — but women.

They insisted romances failed today, not because of male laziness and a lack of attention to their physical appearance as claimed, but because women are picky and demanding divas, who either treat dates like job interviews or are all too keen to leap into bed.

Above all else, though, men said women are increasingly status and money-obsessed. While they might be full of the entitlements of feminism and happy to preach the necessity of equality, men said the opposite sex were simultaneously all too keen to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle almost entirely paid for by their male partners.

One MailOnline reader put it succinctly in response to the article’s question asking why women were finding it so difficult to find a man with whom to settle down: ‘It’s because every man they meet has already been taken for a ride and had his pockets emptied.’

So should the old adage ‘Where have all the good men gone?’ really be more applicable to women instead?

Chris is adamant this is the case —and believes single, middle-aged women in particular should look closer to home when casting blame.

You might want to dismiss Chris as just another misogynist. Far from it.

Alex Cavadas, 41, (pictured) a divorced part-time actor, says he’ has given up on love after a series of emotionally crushing dates with women seemingly after just money

A devoted husband of 21 years to his late wife Rosie, who also worked in television until her sudden death from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2008, the urbane Chris is as removed from a stereotypical knuckle-dragging woman-hater as you could hope to meet.

Yet even he was astonished by how brutally mercenary some of the middle-aged single women he met were.

‘I was brought up by just my mother and absolutely support female empowerment. But the vast majority of women I met expected the man to pay for everything,’ he says. ‘I’m all for female equality, so why did 99 per cent of women expect me to always foot the bill?’

Chris’s dating experience was particularly bruising as he spent years grieving, before loneliness led him to online dating and to pay a substantial sum to an introduction agency to find someone with whom to share his life.

But as well as being relentlessly focused on money, he found some of the women he met — and he went on scores of dates — were surprisingly envious.

‘A few years after Rosie died, I felt capable of trying to meet someone, so I joined the brutal triage of online dating. It was such a disappointment. I found women can be so jealous. They very quickly started to make demands. They were jealous of my female friends. Believe it or not, some didn’t like that I had photos of my wife still on the wall.’

In addition, many were hell-bent on commitment, treating casual lunch dates more like job interviews for a prospective husband.

There was a gradual realisation that you are complete just as you are. Men can have an entirely content life on their own

Chris Gray

‘The introductory agency set me up on a date with an attractive lady in her 50s who had a very powerful job. She texted me, saying she was on her way and to ask for my address so she could park on my street.

‘Minutes later there was a knock on the door. She barged in and started looking around: checking me out, checking out my house. She was a complete stranger to me. It was very odd.’

He says after lunch — which, of course, he paid for — things went even more rapidly downhill.

‘She said: “So, Chris, what about us? Where are we?”

‘I said: “We’re on a first date, I don’t know.”

‘Women like this are trying to run before they can walk. Maybe, faced with mortality as we all are in our 50s, she was so desperate for a relationship she tried to rush things.’

Chris found he differed from many women he met because, unscarred by the trauma of a divorce, he had none of the resentment that seemed to haunt others. Indeed, he was driven by the loving memories of how wonderful life can be when you have a partner with whom to share it.

‘I loved — love — my wife. I always will. My marriage was very happy. Maybe I was trying to recreate that, but it certainly didn’t work.’

After around five years of dating, in 2015 Chris decided enough was enough.

‘There was a gradual realisation that you are complete just as you are. Men can have an entirely content life on their own.’

Ross Foad, 29, (pictured) has been single now for more than two years and says: ‘This is what I want for the rest of my life'

So what’s causing this schism between the sexes at the very point in their lives when you might imagine they would be more likely than ever to settle down?

Psychotherapist Teresa Wilson, who runs a practice in South-West London, believes men and women are coming to the dating game in middle age with entirely different perspectives.

While women — now so independent in outlook and behaviour — are much less worried than male counterparts about finding a new long-term partner, men are more likely to have come from a relationship they’d rather have kept.

‘Women don’t feel quite so trapped in bad relationships. They’ve found a certain liberation over the last 20 years,’ she says.

‘Men, however, like the stability of a home life provided for them, their creature comforts, and often don’t know how they’re going to manage except by going into another relationship.

‘Women, meanwhile, are not as fearful [of being alone]. They tell me: “I might find another relationship, but even if I do not, I can cope.” ’

Meanwhile, Selena Dogg-ett-Jones, a psychosexual and couples’ therapist, sees men as less able to cope with an entirely new dating landscape which has made singletons much pickier about prospective partners.

‘If you’re newly divorced, the dating game has changed dramatically; it’s all online now,’ she says.

‘People who had finished a long-term relationship or were widowed used to be introduced to someone new at a dinner party.

‘But today people will say precisely what they want online. For example, “I only want to meet someone between 40 and 50”, meaning someone aged 51 will not be considered because they’re not in the right category. If they met someone for real, they’d maybe not find out their age until they’d been on a couple of dates, by which time they’d probably like them and the age wouldn’t matter.

‘But instead, all they’re looking at is a photograph and they’ll swipe or click “yes” or “no”. It’s very difficult.’

Alex Cavadas, 41, a divorced part-time actor, says he’s a victim of this pickiness — and has given up on love after a series of emotionally crushing dates with women seemingly set on just one thing: money. ‘Some of the women I’ve dated were too pushy,’ he says. ‘One woman talked to me on the first date about having children and getting married.

‘She asked me how much I make, which is about £400 a week. She told me that wasn’t enough, saying: “I have certain standards.”

‘Yes, I’m a struggling actor. But she wasn’t well off, either. She was an au pair. She was just looking for a wealthy husband.

‘She told me she thought I was handsome and kind, but not successful or rich enough.’

For Alex, who lives in Mitcham, South London, it has been heartbreaking to find his hopes for love so quashed, especially because he says he was very happily married until recently.

‘I met my wife at a concert in 2004 and we married a few years later. I was smitten instantly,’ he recalls.


'The dominant discourse in the Western world is that men are up for sex 24/7. But many men are not' says Alex (file image)

‘Things were great at first, but when our daughter was born in 2014, it felt to me like my wife didn’t want me any more. We divorced in 2015.

‘I’ve been on dates since then, but soon think to myself: “What’s the point?”

‘Since my marriage, I have been celibate because I can’t find a nice woman.’

Psychotherapist Selena says another reason for men, old and young, being disappointed by modern dating is that today’s sexual relationships have been complicated by online dating and pornography.

‘There’s an awful lot of instant sex expected with some of the apps, like Tinder. It’s meet-for-sex and sometimes it will develop into a relationship.

‘The dominant discourse in the Western world is that men are up for sex 24/7. But many men are not. They want to get to know the woman. They tell me they find it very difficult because they feel rushed; and women are rushing them because they think that’s what is expected. Some men can cope with one-night stands, but most do not feel comfortable with them.’

This is the case with Jamie Clows. He may only be 27, but he’s already decided to give up on women entirely, disillusioned after a number of painful relationships and subsequent attempts at dating women who, after drinking too much, have proved themselves rather too keen to jump into bed.

Jamie, a small business owner from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, who has a young daughter from a previous relationship, says he is ‘a lot happier being single’.

‘It all ends the same way,’ he says resignedly. ‘I don’t want to go on dates. It depresses me.

Jamie has found himself agreeing with a growing army of single men who make up the online community called MGTOW — Men Going Their Own Way (file image)

‘Some women have become violent, in jealous rages for no reason, because they’ve been drinking too much.

‘I’d rather go for a walk than to the pub. But I’ve found it hard to meet anyone the same as me.

‘Some women have asked me to sleep with them on the first night. They get drunk and wear very revealing clothes, too. I think women who do this don’t respect themselves, and I can’t respect them, either.’

Jamie has found himself agreeing with a growing army of single men who make up the online community called MGTOW — Men Going Their Own Way — which has tens of thousands of followers. On this website, disillusioned males come to share relationship problems, their struggles for equal access to children and describe being freer, happier and wealthier for shunning relationships.

The philosophy of MGTOW, which began in America in the Seventies, is described as a ‘statement of self-ownership, where the modern man preserves and protects his own sovereignty above all else’.

On its website, it lists great men throughout history — among them Beethoven and Sir Isaac Newton — who were all single and, as a consequence, says MGTOW, led fulfilled lives packed with accomplishments.

It’s a group Jamie admits he never imagined he would find kinship with: ‘When I was younger, I always dreamed I would get married. No more.’

Trelawney Kerrigan, a consultant for the Dating Agency Association, says: 'After a couple of knock-backs, [men] will shrivel up. They are easily disillusioned; women are better at brushing themselves off' (file image)

Ross Foad, 29, is another who subscribes to this philosophy. A talented actor, comedian and writer, he is charismatic, confident, fit and attractive.

But he says he has no interest in ever finding anyone with whom to spend his life.

For Ross, from Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London, says: ‘I don’t hate women — I have many female friends. I just can’t give them what they want, which is commitment, attention and time. I want to concentrate on my career. I like to write, create films and be active.’

Ross has been single now for more than two years and says: ‘This is what I want for the rest of my life.’

Another factor, experts say, is that men are actually more sensitive than women, and struggle to deal with romantic knock-backs.

Trelawney Kerrigan, a consultant for the Dating Agency Association, says: ‘Women will take a more positive approach while men, after a couple of knock-backs, will shrivel up. They are easily disillusioned; women are better at brushing themselves off.

‘It’s a confidence thing with men. You often hear men saying there are not enough genuine people out there and nobody’s taking it seriously.’

Danny Webster, a 33-year-old radio presenter from Birmingham, who has been single for more than three years following the break-up of a long-term relationship, admits he’s given up on women because of painful rejections.

‘I think women don’t want nice men like me. They want bad boys,’ he says. ‘I’ve found the knock-backs hard to deal with and decided a few years ago I’m better off alone. I’m meeting more people of this mindset. Increasing numbers of men are choosing to be independent.’

However, Danny does admit he finds the fact he will not have children difficult to bear.

‘It’s one part of my life I yearn for, because when I see all my other friends with kids, I feel I should have them, too.

‘But there is no one holding me back. I can come and go as I please. A lot of men would give their right arm to have that freedom.’

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lunes, 21 de agosto de 2017

Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans


The hunter-gatherer’s dinner is front page news these days. Drawing from the writings of Dr. Boyd Eaton and Professor Loren Cordain, experts in the so-called Paleolithic diet, columnists and reporters are spreading the word about the health benefits of a diet rich in protein and high in fiber from a variety of plant foods 1,2. It’s actually amusing to see what the modern food pundits come up with as examples of the “Paleolithic Prescription.” Jean Carper offers a Stone Age Salad of mixed greens, garbanzo beans, skinless chicken breast, walnuts and fresh herbs, mixed with a dressing made of orange juice, balsamic vinegar and canola oil.3 Elizabeth Somer suggests whole wheat waffles with fat-free cream cheese, coleslaw with nonfat dressing, grilled halibut with spinach, grilled tofu and vegetables over rice, nonfat milk, canned apricots and mineral water, along with prawns and clams. Her Stone Age food pyramid includes plenty of plant foods, extra lean meat and fish, nonfat milk products, and honey and eggs in small amounts.4
Above all, the food writers tell us, avoid fats, especially saturated fats. The hunter-gatherer’s diet was highly politically correct, they say, rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids but relatively low in overall fat and very low in that dietary villain-saturated fat. This is the one dietary factor that health officials tell us is responsible for all the health problems that plague us-everything from cancer and heart disease to obesity and MS.

Remarkable Health

That the hunter-gatherer was healthy there is no doubt. Weston Price noted an almost complete absence of tooth decay and dental deformities among native Americans who lived as their ancestors did.5 They had broad faces, straight teeth and fine physiques. This was true of the nomadic tribes living in the far northern territories of British Columbia and the Yukon, as well as the wary inhabitants of the Florida Everglades, who were finally coaxed into allowing him to take photographs. Skeletal remains of the Indians of Vancouver that Price studied were similar, showing a virtual absence of tooth decay, arthritis and any other kind of bone deformity. TB was nonexistent among Indians who ate as their ancestors had done, and the women gave birth with ease.
Price interviewed the beloved Dr. Romig in Alaska who stated “that in his thirty-six years of contact with these people he had never seen a case of malignant disease among the truly primitive Eskimos and Indians, although it frequently occurs when they become modernized. He found, similarly, that the acute surgical problems requiring operation on internal organs, such as the gall bladder, kidney, stomach and appendix, do not tend to occur among the primitives but are very common problems among the modernized Eskimos and Indians. Growing out of his experience in which he had seen large numbers of the modernized Eskimos and Indians attacked with tuberculosis, which tended to be progressive and ultimately fatal as long as the patients stayed under modernized living conditions, he now sends them back when possible to primitive conditions and to a primitive diet, under which the death rate is very much lower than under modernized conditions. Indeed, he reported that a great majority of the afflicted recover under the primitive type of living and nutrition.”6
The early explorers consistently described the native Americans as tall and well formed. Of the Indians of Texas, the explorer Cabeza de Vaca wrote, “The men could run after a deer for an entire day without resting and without apparent fatigue. . . one man near seven feet in stature. . . runs down a buffalo on foot and slays it with his knife or lance, as he runs by its side.”7 The Indians were difficult to kill. De Vaca reports on an Indian “traversed by an arrow. . . he does not die but recovers from his wound.” The Karakawas, a tribe that lived near the Gulf Coast, were tall, well-built and muscular. “The men went stark naked, the lower lip and nipple pierced, covered in alligator grease [to ward off mosquitoes], happy and generous, with amazing physical prowess. . . they go naked in the most burning sun, in winter they go out in early dawn to take a bath, breaking the ice with their body.”

Greasy and Good

What kind of foods produced such fine physical specimens? The diets of the American Indians varied with the locality and climate but all were based on animal foods of every type and description, not only large game like deer, buffalo, wild sheep and goat, antelope, moose, elk, caribou, bear and peccary, but also small animals such as beaver, rabbit, squirrel, skunk, muskrat and raccoon; reptiles including snakes, lizards, turtles, and alligators; fish and shellfish; wild birds including ducks and geese; sea mammals (for Indians living in coastal areas); insects including locust, spiders and lice; and dogs. (Wolves and coyotes were avoided because of religious taboos)8.
According to Dr. Eaton, these foods supplied plenty of protein but only small amounts of total fat; and this fat was high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fats. The fat of wild game, according to Eaton, is about 38 percent saturated, 32 percent monounsaturated and 30 percent polyunsaturated.9 This prescription may be just fine for those who want to promote vegetable oils, but it does not jibe with fat content of wild animals in the real world. The table below lists fat content in various tissues of a number of wild animals found in the diets of American Indians. Note that only squirrel fat contains levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids that Eaton claims are typical for wild game. In a continent noted for the richness and variety of its animal life, it is unlikely that squirrels would have supplied more than a tiny fraction of total calories. Seal fat, consumed by coastal Indians, ranges from 14 to 24 percent polyunsaturated. The fat of all the other animals that the Indians hunted and ate contained less than 10 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids, some less than 2 percent. Most prized was the internal kidney fat of ruminant animals, which can be as high as 65 percent saturated.
Sources of Fat for the American Indian10
Antelope, kidney fat65.0421.253.91
Bison, kidney fat34.4852.364.83
Caribou, bone marrow22.2756.873.99
Deer, kidney fat48.2438.526.21
Dog, meat, muscle28.3647.768.95
Dog, kidney25.5441.857.69
Elk, kidney61.5830.101.62
Goat, kidney65.5728.140.00
Moose, kidney47.2644.752.11
Peccary, fatty tissues38.4746.529.7
Reindeer, caribou, fatty tissues50.7538.941.25
Seal (Harbor), blubber11.9161.4113.85
Seal (Harbor), depot fat14.5154.2316.84
Seal (harp), blubber19.1642.2215.04
Seal (harp), meat10.6954.2123.51
Sheep (mountain), kidney fat47.9641.372.87
Sheep (white faced), kidney fat51.5839.901.16
Sheep, intestine, roasted47.0140.307.46
Snake, meat26.3644.540.09
Squirrel (brown), adipose17.4447.5528.6
Squirrel (white), adipose12.2751.4832.3
Game fat, according to Eaton383230
Politically correct paleo-dieters also ignore the fact that the Indians hunted animals selectively. The explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who spend many years with the Indians, noted that they preferred “the flesh of older animals to that of calves, yearlings and two-year olds. . . It is approximately so with those northern forest Indians with whom I have hunted, and probably with all caribou-eaters.” The Indians preferred the older animals because they had built up a thick slab of fat along the back. In an animal of 1000 pounds, this slab could weigh 40 to 50 pounds. Another 20-30 pounds of highly saturated fat could be removed from the cavity. This fat was saved, sometimes by rendering, stored in the bladder or large intestine, and consumed with dried or smoked lean meat. Used in this way, fat contributed almost 80 percent of total calories in the diets of the northern Indians.11
Beaver was highly prized, especially the tail because it was rich in fat. But small animals like rabbit and squirrel were eaten only when nothing else was available because, according to Stefansson, they were so low in fat. In fact, small animals called for special preparation. The meat was removed from the bones, roasted and pounded. The bones were dried and ground into a powder. Then the bones were mixed with the meat and any available grease, a procedure that would greatly lower the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids, while raising the total content of saturated fat.12When a scarcity of game forced the Indians to consume only small animals like rabbits, they suffered from “rabbit starvation.”
“The groups that depend on the blubber animals are the most fortunate, in the hunting way of life, for they never suffer from fat-hunger. This trouble is worst, so far as North America is concerned, among those forest Indians who depend at times on rabbits, the leanest animal in the North, and who develop the extreme fat-hunger known as rabbit-starvation. Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source-beaver, moose, fish-will develop diarrhoea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied. Some think a man will die sooner if he eats continually of fat-free meat than if he eats nothing, but this is a belief on which sufficient evidence for a decision has not been gathered in the North. Deaths from rabbit-starvation, or from the eating of other skinny meat, are rare; for everyone understands the principle, and any possible preventive steps are naturally taken.”13

The Whole Animal

Ruminant animals, such as moose, elk, caribou, deer, antelope and, of course, buffalo were the mainstay of the Amerindian diet, just as beef is the mainstay of the modern American diet. The difference is that the whole animal was eaten, not just the muscle meats.
Beverly Hungry Wolf describes the preparation and consumption of a cow in The Ways of My Grandmothers, noting that her grandmother prepared the cow “as she had learned to prepare buffalo when she was young.” The large pieces of fat from the back and cavity were removed and rendered. The lean meat was cut into strips and dried or roasted, pounded up with berries and mixed with fat to make pemmican. Most of the ribs were smoked and stored for later use14.
All the excess fat inside the body was hung up so the moisture would dry out of it, recalls Beverly Hungry Wolf. It was later served with dried meat. Some fats in the animal were rendered into “lard” instead of dried.
All the insides, such as heart, kidneys and liver, were prepared and eaten, roasted or baked or laid out in the sun to dry. The lungs were not cooked, just sliced and hung up to dry. Intestines were also dried. Sapotsis or Crow gut is a Blackfoot delicacy made from the main intestine which is stuffed with meat and roasted over coals. Tripe was prepared and eaten raw or boiled or roasted. The brains were eaten raw. If the animal was a female, they would prepare the teats or udders by boiling or barbecuing-these were never eaten raw. If the animal carried an unborn young, this was fed to the older people because it was so tender. The guts of the unborn would be taken out and braided, then boiled too. The tongue was always boiled if it wasn’t dried. “Even old animals have tender tongues,” she recalls.
trad-guts-sittingbullThe hooves were boiled down until all the gristle in them was soft. The blood was also saved, often mixed with flour or used to make sausages in the guts.
The second stomach was washed well and eaten raw, but certain parts were usually boiled or roasted and the rest dried. “Another delicacy is at the very end of the intestines—the last part of the colon. You wash this real good and tie one end shut. Then you stuff the piece with dried berries and a little water and you tie the other end shut. You boil this all day, until it is really tender and you have a Blackfoot Pudding.”
According to John (Fire) Lame Deer, the eating of guts had evolved into a contest. “In the old days we used to eat the guts of the buffalo, making a contest of it, two fellows getting hold of a long piece of intestines from opposite ends, starting chewing toward the middle, seeing who can get there first; that’s eating. Those buffalo guts, full of half-fermented, half-digested grass and herbs, you didn’t need any pills and vitamins when you swallowed those.”15
The marrow was full of fat and was usually eaten raw. The Indians knew how to strike the femur bone so that it would split open and reveal the delicate interior flesh. Eaton and others report that the marrow is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids but Stefansson describes two types of marrow, one type from the lower leg which is soft “more like a particularly delicious cream in flavor” and another from the humerus and femur that is “hard and tallowy at room temperatures.”16 According to Beverly Hungry Wolf, the grease inside the bones “was scooped out and saved or the bones boiled and the fat skimmed off and saved. It turned into something like hard lard.” More saturated fat the professors have overlooked!
Samuel Hearne, an explorer writing in 1768, describes the preparation of caribou: “Of all the dishes cooked by the Indians, a beeatee, as it is called in their language, is certainly the most delicious that can be prepared from caribou only, without any other ingredient. It is a kind of haggis, made with the blood, a good quantity of fat shred small, some of the tenderest of the flesh, together with the heart and lungs cut, or more commonly torn into small shivers; all of which is put into the stomach and toasted by being suspended before the fire on a string. . . . it is certainly a most delicious morsel, even without pepper, salt or any other seasoning.”17
Sometimes the Indians selected only the fatty parts of the animal, throwing the rest away. “On the twenty-second of July,” writes Samuel Hearne, “we met several strangers, whom we joined in pursuit of the caribou, which were at this time so plentiful that we got everyday a sufficient number for our support, and indeed too frequently killed several merely for the tongues, marrow and fat.”
Certain parts of the animal were considered appropriate for men or women. The male organs were for the men, as well as the ribs towards the front, which were called “the shoulder ribs, or the boss ribs. They are considered a man’s special meal.” For women, a part of the “intestine that is quite large and full of manure
. . . the thicker part has a kind of hard lining on the inside. My grandmother said that this part is good for a pregnant mother to eat; she said it will make the baby have a nice round head. Pregnant mothers were not allowed to eat any other parts of the intestine because their faces would become discolored.”18

Sacred Foods

All of the foods considered important for reproduction and all of the foods considered sacred were animal foods, rich in fat. According to Beverly Hungry Wolf, pemmican made with berries “was used by the Horns Society for their sacred meal of communion.” Boiled tongue was an ancient delicacy, served as the food of communion at the Sun Dance. A blood soup, made from a mixture of blood and corn flour cooked in broth, was used as a sacred meal during the nighttime Holy Smoke ceremonies.19
Bear was another sacred food-altars of bear bones have been found at many Paleolithic sites. Cabeza de Vaca reports that the Indians of Texas kept the skin of the bear and ate the fat, but threw the rest away. Other groups ate the entire animal, including the head, but recognized the fat as the most valuable part. According to colonist William Byrd II, writing in 1728, “The flesh of bear hath a good relish, very savory and inclining nearest to that of Pork. The Fat of this Creature is least apt to rise in the Stomach of any other. The Men for the most part chose it rather than Venison.” Bear grease was thought to give them resistance by making them physically strong. “We eat it sometimes now and everybody feels better.”20
Bear was also considered an important food for reproduction. When Byrd asked an Indian why their squaws were always able to bare children, the Indian replied that “if any Indian woman did not prove with child at a decent time after Marriage, the Husband, to save his Reputation with the women, forthwith entered into a Bear-dyet for Six Weeks, which in that time makes him so vigorous that he grows exceedingly impertinent to his poor wife and ’tis great odds but he makes her a Mother in Nine Months.”

Fat-Soluble Nutrients

Indians living in coastal areas consumed large amounts of fish, including the heads and roe. Price reported that in the area of Vancouver, the candle fish was collected in large quantities, the oil removed and used as a dressing for many seafoods. Shell fish were eaten in large amounts when available.
Animal fats, organ meats and fatty fish all supply fat-soluble vitamins A and D, which Weston Price recognized as the basis of healthy primitive diets. These nutrients are catalysts to the assimilation of protein and minerals. Without them minerals go to waste and the body cannot be built tall and strong. When tribes have access to an abundance of fat soluble vitamins, the offspring will grow up with “nice round heads,” broad faces and straight teeth.
Certain fatty glands of game animals also provided vitamin C during the long winter season in the North. The Indians of Canada revealed to Dr. Price that the adrenal glands in the moose prevented scurvy. When an animal was killed, the adrenal gland and its fat were cut up and shared with all members of the tribe. The walls of the second stomach were also eaten to prevent “the white man’s disease.”

Plant Foods

A variety of plant foods were used throughout the North American continents, notably corn (in the temperate regions) and wild rice (in the Great Lakes region). Dry corn was first soaked in lime water (water in which calcium carbonate or calcium oxide is dissolved), a process called nixtamalizacionthat softens the corn for use and releases vitamin B3, which otherwise remains bound in the grain. The resulting dough, called nixtamal or masa, can be prepared in a variety of ways to make porridges and breads. Often these preparations were then fried in bear grease or other fat. Many groups grew beans and enjoyed them as “succotash,” a dish comprised of beans, corn, dog meat and bear fat. As an adjunct to the diet, corn provided variety and important calories. But when the proportion of corn in the diet became too high, as happened in the American Southwest, the health of the people suffered. Skeletal remains of groups subsisting largely on corn reveal widespread tooth decay and bone problems.21
Tubers like the Jerusalem artichoke (the root of a type of sunflower) were cooked slowly for a long time in underground pits until the hard indigestible root was transformed into a highly digestible gelatinous mass. Wild onions were used to flavor meat dishes and, in fact, were an important item of commerce. Nuts like acorns were made into gruel or little cakes after careful preparation to remove tannins. In the Southeast, pecans contributed important fat calories. In the southern areas, cactus was consumed; in northern areas wild potatoes.
Staples like corn and beans were stored in underground pits, ingeniously covered with logs and leaves to prevent wild animals from finding or looting the stores. Birch bark was used to make trays, buckets and containers, including kettles. Water was boiled by putting hot rocks into the containers. Southern Indians used clay pots for the same purpose.
In general, fruits were dried and used to season fat, fish and meat-dried blueberries were used to flavor moose fat, for example. Beverly Hungry Wolf recalls that her grandmother mixed wild mint with fat and dried meat, which was then stored in rawhide containers. The mint would keep the bugs out and also prevent the fat from spoiling.
The Indians enjoyed sweet-tasting foods. Maple sugar or pine sugar was used to sweeten meats and fats. In the Southwest, the Indians chewed the sweet heart of the agave plant. In fact, the Spanish noted that where agave grew, the Indians had bad teeth.22

Fermented Foods

Use of sour-tasting fermented foods was widespread. The Cherokee “bread” consisted of nixtamalwrapped in corn leaves and allowed to ferment for two weeks.23 Manzanita berries and other plant foods were also fermented.
The Indians also enjoyed fermented, gamey animal foods. The Coahuiltecans, living in the inland brush country of south Texas set fish aside for eight days “until larvae and other insects had developed in the rotting flesh.24 They were then consumed as an epicure’s delight, along with the rotten fish.” Samuel Hearne describes a fermented dish consumed by the Chippewaya and Cree: “The most remarkable dish among them. . . is blood mixed with the half-digested food which is found in the caribou’s stomach, and boiled up with a sufficient quantity of water to make it of the consistence of pease-pottage. Some fat and scraps of tender flesh are also shred small and boiled with it. To render this dish more palatable, they have a method of mixing the blood with the contents of the stomach in the paunch itself, and hanging it up in the heat and smoke of the fire for several days; which puts the whole mass into a state of fermentation, which gives it such an agreeable acid taste, that were it not for prejudice, it might be eaten by those who have the nicest palates.”25
A number of reports indicate that broth and herbed beverages were preferred to water. The Chippewa boiled water and added leaves or twigs before drinking it.26 Sassafras was a favorite ingredient in teas and medicinal drinks.27 Broth was flavored and thickened with corn silk and dried pumpkin blossom. California Indians added lemonade berries to water to make a pleasantly sour drink.28 Another sour drink was produced from fermented corn porridge.29 In the Southwest, a drink called chichi is made with little balls of corn dough which the women impregnate with saliva by chewing. They are added to water to produce a delicious, sour, fizzy fermented drink.30

Guts and Grease in a Glass

Modern food writers who assure us we can enjoy the superb health of the American Indian by eating low fat foods and canned fruits have done the public a great disservice. The basis of the Indian diet was guts and grease, not waffles and skimmed milk. When the Indians abandoned these traditional foods and began consuming processed store-bought foods, their health deteriorated rapidly. Weston Price vividly described the suffering from tooth decay, tuberculosis, arthritis and other problems that plagued the modernized Indian groups he visited throughout America and Canada.
Modern man has lost his taste for the kinds of foods the Indians ate—how many American children will eat raw liver, dried lung or sour porridge? How then can we return to the kind of good health the Indians enjoyed?
Price found only one group of modernized Indians that did not suffer from caries. These were students at the Mohawk Institute near the city of Brantford. “The Institute maintained a fine dairy herd and provided fresh vegetables, whole wheat bread and limited the sugar and white flour.”31So the formula for good health in the modern age begins with the products of “a fine dairy herd”—whole, raw, unprocessed milk from cows that eat green grass, a highly nutritious substitute for guts and grease and one that every child can enjoy, even native American children who are supposedly lactose intolerant. Add some good fats (butter, tallow and lard), aim for liver or other organ meats once a week (but don’t fret if you can’t achieve this with your own children), make cod liver oil part of the daily routine, eat plenty of meat and seafood, and augment the diet with a variety of plant foods properly prepared, including a few that are fermented. Keep sugar and white flour to a minimum. It’s a simple formula that can turn a nation of hungry little wolves into happy campers.
Meanwhile, be skeptical of government guidelines. The Indians learned not to trust our government and neither should you.
The authors are grateful to Don Coté for his help with this article.


Native Americans and Diabetes

American Indians know all too well the havoc that Type II Diabetes can wreak on the human body. What they may not know is that Uncle Sam is to blame.
Thousands of American Indians depend on the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). What do participants receive? It should come as no surprise that the commodities are loaded with carbohydrates with very little protein on the menu and even less fat. And the fats Indians do receive are loaded with trans fats. These foods are cheap and the multinational giants that produce them are equipped with lawyers and lobbyists to ensure that their products are the ones our government buys. The federal government feeds 53 million people per day. Is it any wonder they’re out to cut costs, whatever the consequences to our health?
Even in light of the latest research on the ill effect of excess carbohydrates on the human body, federal agencies have no choice. The National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990, also known as Public Law 101-445, states that all federal agencies shall promote the current US Dietary Recommendations in carrying out any federal food, nutrition or health program. The USDA Food Pyramid is more than a recommendation; it’s a federal prescription written in stone. And it’s speeding the death of most if not all Americans.
The Indians are hit harder and faster than the rest of us because they are only two generations away from the “old way” of life, based on game animals and fish. Uncle Sam will never admit that the Indians were tall, lean and healthy just two generations ago. If ever someone wanted proof that humans weren’t designed to eat a grain-based diet, look at the American Indian population-almost all of them are battling overweight, diabetes, and heart disease. Addictions are common. Yet many Indians have vivid memories of life before federal handouts, a time when diabetes and other diseases of civilization were unheard of among the Indians.
The US government has failed miserably when it comes to treating its native peoples. But without a change in US law, Indians will continue to receive a recipe for death. One possible remedy is the Tribal Self-Governance Project, created by Congress in 1988, which allows tribal governments more flexibility in the decision-making and administration of their contracted programs. Indians must take a stand and demand that government subsidies reflect their native diet. Better yet, Indians who can should refuse their “gift” from the government and return to hunting and fishing-the only way to reclaim their health.
Michael Eades, MD
Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades are the authors of Protein Power Lifeplan (Warner, 2000)

  1. S. Boyd Eaton, MD with Marjorie Shostak and Melvin Konner, MD, PhD, The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet & Exercise and a Design for Living, Harper & Row
  2. Loren Cordain, PhD and Boyd Eaton, “Evolutionary aspects of diet: Old genes, new fuels. Nutritional changes since agriculture,” World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics 1997:81
  3. Jean Carper, USA Weekend
  4. Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, “Stone Age Diet,” SHAPE, October 1998
  5. Weston A. Price, DDS, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, (619) 574-7763, pages 73-102
  6. Ibid., p 91
  7. The explorer Cabeza de Vaca is quoted in WW Newcomb, The Indians of Texas, 1961, University of Texas.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Eaton, op cit, p 80
  10. USDA data, prepared by John L. Weihrauch with technical assistance of Julianne Borton and Theresa Sampagna
  11. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, The Fat of the Land, MacMillan Company, 1956
  12. Frances Densmore, “Chippewa Customs,” Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 86, page 43
  13. Stefansson, op cit
  14. Beverly Hungry Wolf, The Ways of My Grandmother, pages 183-189
  15. John (fire) Lame Deer and Richard Erdoes, Lame Deer Seeker of Visions, Simon and Schuster, 1972, page 122
  16. Stefansson, op cit, page 27
  17. The Journals of Samuel Hearne, 1768.
  18. Hungry Wolf, op cit
  19. Hungry Wolf, op cit
  20. Inez Hilger, “Chippewa Child Life,” Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 146, page 96
  21. William Campbell Douglass, MD, The Milk Book, Second Opinion Publishing 1994, page 215
  22. Personal communication, Florence Shipek, expert on the Californian coastal Indians.
  23. Mary Ulmer and Samuel E. Beck, Cherokee Cooklore, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, 1951
  24. Cabeza de Vaca, op cit
  25. Samuel Hearne, op cit
  26. Frances Densmore, op cit, page 39
  27. “Wildman” Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean, Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants, Hearst Books, New York, 1994, page 220
  28. Personal communication, Florence Shipek, op cit
  29. Mary Ulmer, op cit
  30. Keith Steinkraus, ed, Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1983
  31. Weston Price, op cit, page 31
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2001.