Health Care Trojan Horse for Government Micro-Regulation of Individual Choices

Don't say I have not been warning you.  For years.  Philip Klein via Peter Suderman:

...Bloomberg highlighted a comment from a supporter of the [soda] ban, who wrote, "Anyone who pays taxes and thus bears the health care costs of obesity should support this."

In a free society, individuals are able to take risks and make decisions detrimental to their own well-being -- be it smoking, drinking, excessive eating or anything else -- because they'll bear the ultimate costs of their decisions. But when government assumes a greater role in the health care system, suddenly there's a societal cost to individual risks. This provides an opening for those who believe in a paternalistic role for government to make their regulations seem pragmatic. Bloomberg used the "health care costs to taxpayers" argument during his previous drives to ban smoking in bars and restaurants and to outlaw the use of trans fats.


  1. TJIC:

    I've tried to argue with leftists: "if private behavior has internalized costs and then you choose policies to externalize the cost, then you use that as justification to ban the private behavior...haven't you just legitimized the government prohibiting gay sex?"

    The answer is "you can't legislate what happens in the bedroom!" if that's some sort of Constitutional Amendment or a rule on a rock tablet or golden disk.

    But why can't you?

    If a government can come into my kitchen, why CAN'T it come into my bedroom?

    Right now the stay-out-of-my-bedroom meme is in ascendency, but things like that can and do change.

    Leftists could find themselves hoisted on their own petards if the SOCIAL tide changes but the scope of the government does not.

    I want soda drinkers to be free to drink soda, even if it increases their risk of health problems, and I want gays to be free to have anonymous anal sex, even if that increases their risk of health problems.

    Freedom is the only policy that's even handed, and therefore anyone who is afraid that social trends might change should embrace it.

    Of course, many people don't think that far forward, or can't imagine that their revolution will ever end (side note: I always loved the name of the Mexican political party "Institutional Revolutionary Party" - LOL!), or enjoy excercising the lash over others more than they fear it landing on their own backs.

  2. Matt:


    The next step to take in your argument with leftists is to ask what if I do (behavior leftist wants to ban) in my bedroom?


  3. me:

    *G* I ought to point out that the micro-regulation of life from the left is new and annoying, but that it is following in the footsteps of decades of micro-regulation from the right. Now, if we all could just stop the finger pointing and work on removing all of this nonsense, I might have a good day or two at some point in the future.

  4. LarryG:

    Just FYI - people DO have the right to mess themselves up but what happens when they go to the ER and expect EMTALA or MedicAid to pay their bills?

    See.. the American people will not agree to no EMTALA and no MedicAid.. and the slackers and scofflaws KNOW THIS and act accordingly. Whatryagoingtodo?

  5. Ted Rado:

    There are those who are willing to let the USG run their lives, provided someone else picks up the tab. Once 51% of the people are receiving government freebies, we are screwed. They will always vote for the candidate that promises more freebies. Later, if there is a financial catatrophe and some resposible politician wants to roll back the handouts, there is rioting and the offender is thrown out of office. Greece is a great example.

  6. Hasdrubal:

    Hrmm, wouldn't it be handy if we had some empirical research on the net costs of obesity to society? Maybe something like

    Who Pays for Obesity?
    Jay Bhattacharya and Neeraj Sood
    Journal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 25, Number 1—Winter 2011—Pages 139–158

    If I might quote from their conclusion:

    "In this paper, we have emphasized that the classic Pigovian case for intervention — that social welfare can be improved if those who impose externalities on others are required to internalize the social costs — does not apply especially well to obesity. In employer-provided health insurance pools, being obese causes limited externality harm because obese individuals likely pay the costs of their body weight through reduced wages. In public health insurance, there is an implicit transfer from thin people to obese people, but this transfer is progressive and seems unlikely to induce substantial social loss."

    In other words, being obese is expensive, but the obese pay for it themselves.

  7. LarryG:

    well, if not mistaken, Sweden is number 1 in social insurance AND has a balanced budget.

  8. me:

    *G* Thank you Larry for pointing that out. Having functioning, effective and low cost/free health care is absolutely possible. It's a false alternative often discussed here, but effectively we are absolute world-best at getting the least and worst care for most money expended with remarkably ridiculous policies and regulations for a nominally free and capitalist country.

    The real question is how to unf*ck healthcare, not wether or not it ought to be free.

  9. skh.pcola:

    The Swedish system isn't the well-tuned machine that you two make it out to be, which is easy to discover. Start here:

  10. me:

    *G* Not saying Sweden is the embodiment of the ideal of perfect healthcare. I am pointing out that the US system is astonishingly great at combining the worst aspects of all options.