Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3478220 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Paternalism and Health Care
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (23)

William Saletan has an article in Slate about how junk food is the next target of lawyers and regulators who took on big tobacco.

Goodbye, war on smoking. Hello, war on fat.


How do we fight it? Everyone agrees on exercising and eating responsibly. The debate is over what the government should do. Health advocates want to restrict junk-food sales, regulate advertising, require more explicit labels, and ban trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated oils), which are often put into crackers, cookies, and other products to prolong shelf life. They marshal the kind of evidence that won the war on smoking: correlations between soda, junk food, obesity, disease, and death. Lawyers who made their fortunes suing tobacco companies are preparing suits against soda companies.

Yeah, you could see this coming. I remember after watching The Insider and thinking, "What the hell is the difference between making your cigarettes more addictive and making a Big Mac more tasty?" (Don't really want to get into that argument here, though.)

Basically, when it comes to issues like this, the government deciding what's good or bad for me, I understand the impulse for the government to look out for its citizens. It's one of the government's basic functions, though how far it should go is obviously debatable. I think when it comes to cigarettes and cheeseburgers, the government should err on the side of letting me do whatever the fuck I want.

That said, there's another care. The more socialized our health care system, the bigger the issue is of public health, and what people are doing to their bodies. If I'm paying into an expensive universal health care system, and my neighbors are smoking and racking up huge hospital bills, then of course I care more about my neighbor's lifestyle and health, don't I? It's not quite fair that we're subsidizing people's shitty lifestyle choices.

So these policy choices go hand in hand. So what to do? Well, I'd lean in the direction of letting people do, for the most part, whatever they want, as long as the impact to others is minimized. That means if their drug habit or smoking is the direct cause of a disease or condition, they pay for it.

Otherwise, if we do have universal health care, it makes perfect sense to restrict the hell out of lifestyle choices that will increase health care costs, because at that point it affects everyone who pays taxes. But of course, that's not the way I'd like to see us go.

Read/Post Comments (23)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.