Once you define a problem, then you convene groups to find a solution. The source of Bloomberg’s soda war was a report by the New York City Obesity Task Force, which claimed, among other things, that obesity disproportionately affects minorities and that it is an environmental disease. Among a wide range of initiatives, it called for a cap on the size of sodas that can be sold in restaurants. But that’s small potatoes compared to its Active Design Guidelines, which involve restructuring the landscape of the city in a way that will force people to engage in more physical activity. Among other things that means forcing buildings to be designed in a way that will compel people to use staircases.
It’s not just about the power; it’s also about the numbers. Government health care means that everyone is a government customer, buying a product that can’t be paid for, and that requires constant cost-cutting efforts.
The current bottleneck is obesity. Get rid of the fat people and government health care will work fine. After the fat people, it will be the old people. The last of the smokers. After that, a bid to keep people with genetic diseases from reproducing. There’s no end to this sort of thing because the system is inherently broken and is trying to fix itself by fixing the people.
The obesity epidemic is a convoluted way of saying that the problem with government health care is the people. But that’s not the problem. Obesity may not be healthy, but if we ban sodas and force everyone to exercise in the yard before work, the numbers still won’t balance. Because the real problem with government health care is government. It’s a classic case of the problem trying to treat the problem. Every new gimmick only adds to the bloat. The war against obesity will end up devouring whatever health care savings are gained from reducing obesity.
It’s easy to blame individual obesity rather than collectivist obesity, and so we are treated to the obscene spectacle of a system that can’t stop wasting billions and trillions of dollars, peering into everyone’s soda cup, because down the road they may lose weight and that may lower the cost of covering their health care.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money flows from private foundations to obesity researchers, from national to local governments, from local governments to consultants and from health insurance companies to obesity alliances. Offices are renovated, executives are installed, papers are authored, charts are drawn up, presentations are given, conferences are convened, policy is made, and people’s lives are made miserable by this army of public-private overlords obsessed with their ounces.
Money that could genuinely be used to help people is being spent on an administrative infrastructure in a national policy campaign against human biology. King Xerxes ordering that the sea be whipped showed more reason and sanity than a global obesity hysteria over the inevitable outcome of a society with sedentary jobs and plentiful food. Not to mention hordes of immigrants from cultures in which obesity is considered to be a good thing.
Government can’t make people thin, but people can make government thin. And studies have shown that slimming down government prevents tyranny, oppression and inspectors measuring your soda cup with a ruler. A healthy society may have fat people, but it has skinny government. It is not a nation tasked with a war on weight, but a nation of free people of all sizes.
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