Who’s Costing What

It is inevitable that whenever a service is limited, talk will turn towards issues like “who is more deserving of it?” or “should people pay more if they use the service more?”, and so on.  Insurance companies have a hold on this measurement in that, for example, young men pay more for auto insurance because they have more accidents and drive more recklessly than middle-aged women do.

Where this all starts falling apart is when it gets taken to its logical extreme:  should fat people pay more for airline tickets when their weight requires more fuel to power the plane off the runway?  Sure, say all the skinny people;  fuck you, say the chubbies.

And that’s for a pay service.  The argument becomes even sharper when it’s a free (to consumers) service such as, say, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), which is going to become still more of an issue Over Here as the U.S. inches towards a “single-payer” (i.e. State-provided) healthcare system.

So who costs the healthcare service more:  fat people or smokers?  In her inimitable style, Brit journo Janet Street-Porter (who is skinny) scolds future BritPM Boris Johnson (who is chubby) for saying that fat people don’t cost the NHS as much as smokers.

Sorry, Boris but fat people are costing the NHS just as much as smokers ever did so why shouldn’t they face the same shame and taxes?
It’s official, eating yourself to an early death is a human right which must be protected.
Boris Johnson – who could be our next Prime Minister, a prospect which fills me with fear and loathing in equal measure- wants to review the levies on sugary food and drink because they ‘hurt the poor’. He calls them ‘sin taxes’.
This is shameless electioneering, stooping to a new low to grovel for votes.
What really hurts the poor is discovering your child needs every tooth filled and there are no dentists for hundreds of miles.
Or your teenager is too fat to play sport and is being bullied at school. Every extra kilo around a child’s waist is another year off their lives.
Giving people on low incomes the freedom of choice to buy unhealthy food is not a policy anyone who cares about humankind should be proud of. It is retrogressive and patronising.
Food laced with sugar and fat SHOULD be taxed, and that money ploughed back into the National Health service.

For starters, this whole “shaming” thing should be called what it really is:  bullying.  Shame  is what you should feel if you commit a sin or a crime (some overlap);  only scolds and control freaks (some overlap) want to ascribe the eating of a hamburger or a chocolate bar as sinful, and therefore worthy of taxing.

Hey, let’s not stop there.  If we’re talking about costs to a nationalized healthcare system, let’s not stop with smokers and chubbies;  what about car drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists?  I mean, we’ve all seen the accident reports and injury stats — why not tack a tax onto car, bicycle or motorcycle purchases to help cover those  costs to the healthcare system?  (Feel free to add your  suggestions as to ways to squeeze yet more tax dollars from citizens.  Indulge your inner politician.)

I’m making a joke about this, but make no mistake:  at some point this nonsense — especially when supported by media assholes like Street-Porter — starts becoming policy.  And we need to nip it in the bud, hard.

Let’s end this little discussion with a thought from Janet:

It’s the duty of responsible parents and schools to promote healthy eating, and the duty of supermarkets to promote real unprocessed food over junk.

Yeah… we know better than parents what’s good for their children, and (channeling Michelle Obama) schools shouldn’t serve meals that aren’t blessed by the Nutrition Police.  And supermarkets shouldn’t serve their customers’ needs and wants;  they should only serve foods that we say they should.  (Corollary:  and if our “suggested” foods turn out to be completely wrong — e.g. the food pyramid espoused by the FDA for decades — then that’s just tough titties.)

FOAD.

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