Posts tagged ‘STD’

Pigovian Tax on Sex

As I linked in an earlier article, Kevin Drum and his commenters are justifying the Obamacare tax on tanning salons based in part on the fact that tanning (via skin cancers) adds to future health care costs, which now (via Obamacare and Medicare) will likely have to be born by taxpayers.

Frequent readers will know that I have opposed government paying for health care for years in part due to the incentive it gives the government to micromanage individual behaviors to reduce its costs (I call this the health care Trojan Horse).

But here is the simple question for today.  If individual choices and behaviors should be taxed if they add to health care costs (a proposition Drum sees as so self-evident that Republicans are Neanderthals for opposing the idea), then why isn't anyone suggesting a tax on sex?   I can't think of any discretionary behavior that has more implications for health care costs than sex.  There's contraception, abortion, STD's, pre-natal care, birth, and at least 18 years of juvenile health care with no taxes being paid.  Not to mention a new future Medicare recipient who, by current law, will pay in far less to the system than he or she will take out.

Update on the Health Care Trojan Horse for Fascism

I have warned for quite a while that government health care is a Trojan horse for all kinds of intrusive micro-regulations of our decisions and behaviors.  Here's an update: (via Maggies Farm)

"As the government assumes a larger share of health care costs, it is increasingly able to use that as a justification to intrude into personal decisions or private enterprises, whether it's a matter of smoking policy, trans-fats, or salt," we wrote last month. Now the Wall Street Journal is out with an editorial praising Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity, reasoning, "the reality is that U.S. obesity imposes huge costs on taxpayers. In 2006, the per capita increase in spending attributable to obesity was 36% for Medicare and 47% for Medicaid, according to a paper last year in Health Affairs. Many fat kids grow up to be fat adults, and you've got to start somewhere."

Almost any behavior or decisions, from eating to driving to sports participation, has implications on one's potential future health care costs.  So by this logic, almost anything can be regulated.  For example, I would argue that sex has a much higher health care cost impact than eating, not just in STD's but in the cost of pregnancies and pediatrics.   Or as another example, our family spent far more in health care costs on treating our kids' accidents while playing sports than in dealing with any obesity costs.  Should we be requiring kids to stay indoors playing on the computer where they will be safe from potentially expensive accidents?

Update on the Health Care Trojan Horse

On several occasions, I have warned that government funded health care is becoming a Trojan horse for increasing government micro-management of your life.  The logic is that by paying for your health care, the government can argue it has a financial interest in your not eating fatty foods, not smoking, wearing a bike helmet, exercising, etc, decisions that would otherwise only affect the individual themself.*

For those who often accuse me of exaggerated paranoia when it comes to government intervention, check out this from the UK:

People who are grossly overweight, who smoke heavily
or drink excessively could be denied surgery or drugs following a
decision by a Government agency yesterday.  The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which
advises on the clinical and cost effectiveness of treatments for the
NHS, said that in some cases the "self-inflicted" nature of an illness
should be taken into account.

Sorry, but I told you so.  What's next?  Is an unwanted pregnancy "self-inflicted"?  How about an STD from unprotected sex?  The rulers of this process in England might argue that "Oh, we would never include those things" but technocrats in the US have seen parallel things happen as they have lost political control of their similar institutions in the US.

It gets me to wondering whether the Solomon Amendment may be the new template for government control of individual lives.  In both Universities and state governments, the Feds use the threat of withdrawal of federal funds to coerce actions (think 55 mile speed limit, title IX, military recruiting on campus) that the Constitution nominally does not see to give them authority over.  Now, there is the distinct possibility that federal funds to individuals (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment) could be used to increase federal authority and coercive micro-management at the individual level.

*Update: Yes, I do know that "themself" is probably not correct grammar.  I sometimes use they, them, themself as a grammatically frowned-upon but I think less awkward substitute for he/she, his/her, and his-or-herself when trying to be gender-neutral.  Sometimes I just use the traditional male pronoun, sometimes I use the female pronoun generically since women will complain about "he" used generically but men will not complain about "she", and sometimes I mix them up.  There is still some consensus building to do in coming up with gender neutral pronouns, though this person defends the singular "they".

Really Lame

Volokh points out this bit of stupidity:

Family Research Council Opposing Vaccination:

New Scientist reports:

Deaths from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year
by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by
soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the [sexually transmitted HPV]
virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer . . . . [T]o prevent
infection, girls will have to be vaccinated before they become sexually
active, which could be a problem in many countries.

In the US, [however,] religious groups are gearing up to oppose
vaccination . . . . "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says
Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, . . . [which] has made
much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms
are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such
as HIV.

"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful,
because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex,"
Maher claims . . . .

This is just wrong on any number of levels.  The lamest part of this, beyond the sheer wrongheadedness of it, is it strikes me as a sign that these religious groups are unsure of their own teachings and moral standing.  I will never be confused with a religious expert, but I would think that religious groups would be fighting for abstinence as a positive moral principal.  Trying to deny vaccinations in order to make sexual intercourse incrementally more dangerous and threatening strikes me as a sign that the religious groups have given up on moral teaching and are now relying on bald scare tactics. 

When my kids were about 2, we had trouble with them getting out of bed and coming into our room.  Increasing the likelihood of STD's in order to discourage sex strikes me as similar to if I had spread tacks on the ground around my kids bed to keep them from wandering around at night.  When we come up with an HIV vaccine, are these groups going to oppose that as well?