Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Have Your Cake, Eat it Too, Pay Tax on Cake, See Government Doctor

A proposal is being floated to tax sugary drinks such as soda and Gatorade. Coincidentally, a proposal is being floated to socialize the healthcare industry. The two are inextricably linked. If everyone is paying for everyone else’s healthcare, unquestionably behavior linked to health should be dictated by everyone.

As the precept goes, when something is taxed, there is less of it. Thus, by taxing the consumption of sugary drinks, there will be less consumed. A better diet will no doubt lead to better health, and thus the collective costs to society will be lowered. The same, of course, goes for things like cigarettes. If the taxpayer is on the hook for treating lung cancer, then it is in the taxpayer’s interest to minimize smoking. It should not end there, though. Really any behavior that poses a risk to health should be taxed, or banned altogether.

It must be so. Another precept is that price ceilings lead to shortages. As in, the myth being propagated that the government can simply control healthcare prices is just that. There is no messianic hand wave that will magically keep costs under control when healthcare is “free” to all. Thus, the only way to keep the cost of socialized healthcare even remotely palatable is to massively regulate behavior.

Everyone must be coerced to live a healthier lifestyle. No activities with injury potential can be tolerated, and should be banned. Eating right and regular exercise will be a requirement. People must be eating their five servings of fruits and vegetables, taking their vitamins, and getting plenty of cardiovascular workouts. Urine samples can be used to ensure the proper consumption of essential nutrients. The government will regularly screen blood samples of the population to monitor important indicators of health. A workout database can be constructed to keep everyone on a regimen. People will log their routines via a government web site. Better yet, exercise equipment – whether at a gym or in the home – can be fitted with a wireless device to automatically send data to the centralized system. Government inspectors can regularly make visits to properly calibrate the meters. We will need full genetic screening of the population as well. The government must know each individual’s susceptibility to various ailments, and enforce proper preventative measures.

Or…We can choose to live in a free society where people make their own decisions, and also assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

2 comments:

Anonymous Unwed Mother said...

Viva libertarianism! Lol. A good visual for this argument might actually be the film Wall-E...where the humans lay on carts that zip around and everything is done for them and run by greater forces until their minds and bodies become a collective unconscious of mush.

kgrinspun said...

Like or not you are currently subsidizing the obese and the smokers. They are filling up the hospitals and you are paying for it. For some reason that completely eludes me, health insurance companies do not charge higher premiums to those with unhealthy lifestyles. Life insurance companies sure do. The same can be said for auto insurance too. More tickets equals higher premiums.

So in a manner of speaking, the free market has failed us in this regard.

As for me, I'd gladly pee in a cup or step on a scale to pay my fair share and to stop subsidizing those who won't.

Ken Grinspun, MD