Update on the Health Care Trojan Horse

I have argued on numerous occasions that government-funded health care is a Trojan Horse for detailed regulation of how we treat our bodiesThe Economist Blog has a great post on this topic:

Why exactly is obesity a public health issue? Well, when,
by force of law, you externalise responsibility for providing a good,
such as health care, then the effects of all individual choices that
affect the cost of providing that good for the individual are thereby
transformed from internal to external effects. If you, like
Mr Dubois, are in the grip of the blithe assumption that reducing
negative externalities by raising the cost of the behaviour that causes
them is simply what government does, then obviously my gluttony and sloth are public problems. Because public policy made them public problems! So, obviously,
it's up to the government to fiddle with prices to manipulate our
behavior in order to minimise its impact on the tax-financed national
budget.

This sort of thing drives me crazy because it's just so
thoughtlessly arbitrary -- intellectual empty calories. Why
specifically a tax on junk food? Yes, one
of the causes of obesity is "the consumption of too many calories."
Another is the failure to burn the calories one consumes. So why not
levy huge fines on people for not showing up at "voluntary"
government-funded yogalates classes? Or if people are consuming too
many calories, then just put a tax on calories. Why tax some calories
but not others? You can get fat eating steak, too. Maybe a national
"cap and trade" system of calorie credits would do the trick. Hey, do
you know who's healthy? Mormons are. Maybe the government should
provide giant tax credits for being Mormon. Or perhaps it would be
easier if the national health care system could just deny services for
ailments it judged to be obesity-related.  You could even decide not to
have a national health care system at all and allow insurance premiums to reflect the actuarial risk of individual behavior! But that would be crazy. 

Hat tip to TJIC, who has more.  I think this would be a great anti-universal-coverage T-shirt:

Tskyl2

Ironically, this shirt is produced by the National Organization of Women, who are strong government health care supporters.  Go figure.

  • Bob Smith

    NOW is for whatever benefits women at the expense of men. Since they expect the subsidy implied in socialized medicine to flow towards women, who as a group are net tax consumers (compared to men who are net tax payers), they're all for it.

  • Hey, do you know who's healthy? Mormons are. Maybe the government should provide giant tax credits for being Mormon.

    Hey, I'm down with that.

    But Mormons are most definitely not ahead of the curve when it comes to obesity. We may not imbibe spirits, but we more than make up for it with rich desserts and such. More ice cream consumed per capita (Utah) than anywhere else, or at least it used to be.

  • Ann

    Nice post! You have said it very well. Keep going.

  • Do not forget, obesity is *not* defined as a fat to total body weight percentage. It is defined as total body weight in kg divided by height in meters squared. A number around 20 is "normal", above 25 is "overweight" and above 30 is "obese" (see this link: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ ); yet the drive-by media that touts the "obesity epidemic" never mention that obesity has been defined downward. This is the root cause of the "obesity epidemic", not overeating, under exercising, or bad metabolism. In the hospital, the folks that die the fastest are the really skinny and the really, really fat.

  • Tony

    "You could even decide not to have a national health care system at all and allow insurance premiums to reflect the actuarial risk of individual behavior! But that would be crazy."

    Because all people that are unhealthy choose to be that way right? Oh wait, thats not how it works. Must just be that way with stupid people...like you!