It’s All For Your Own Good

Arizona is planning to fine fat people who don’t do as Nanny says. It’s all to do with costs, they say. And fat people cost the state money. At present, it is welfare claimants who are in the firing line as they are the ones covered by Medicaid, the government funded insurer. Presumably, the private insurers will come to their own arrangements with their clients, and I suspect that if they tried something like this on, their clients would seek an alternative provider –  and, insurers will weigh the costs of care against the life expectancy of the patient, so you may well find that premiums don’t differ that much. The Medicaid folk have no such luxury, so are hostages to fortune.

And how to avoid this fine –  small though it is at the moment?

Now the state of Arizona is proposing a radical idea. It wants to impose a $50 annual fine for overweight Medicaid recipients who don’t follow a strict health regime developed with their doctor. Those with children, and people overweight due to a medical condition, would be exempt.

Naturally, smokers get a look in, too.

Smokers and diabetics who ignore their medical advice would also have to pay.

So there you have it, the state is mother, the state is father, Nanny will tell you how to live your life or you will be punished. I do find it odd that diabetics are lumped in with smokers. Those diabetics I’ve known have been fastidious about their regime, not because of the cost to the health service but because they would like to stay alive, thank you very much.

Monica Coury, assistant director at Arizona’s Medicaid programme, says the aim is to change behaviour using a carrot and stick approach, in the same way that increasing cigarette taxes reduced smoking.

Well, I can see the stick. Where, precisely, is the carrot? And, frankly, it is not the place of the state to engage in such social engineering anyway. If someone is obese, then their life expectancy is reduced. The same applies to other high risk lifestyles. Therefore they will be less of a drain on the healthcare resources having popped their clogs before they end up spending a decade or so dribbling incoherently in some state funded nursing home. Cheap at half the cost, I’d say.

It couldn’t happen here? Oh, I don’t doubt for one moment there’s a bureaucrat somewhere in Westminster positively salivating over the idea. We have been bombarded for some years now with advice, guidelines and recommendations on everything from the amount of fruit and vegetables we should eat, to salt, alcohol and tobacco. And, given that the vast majority of us use the NHS for our healthcare, we are similarly hostages to fortune as are the Medicaid people across the pond. Also bear in mind the oft-repeated canard about smokers and fat people costing the NHS despite the fact that these people pay handsomely for any care they might receive. Its a meme that has taken hold in the public consciousness to such a degree, that it would be implemented with barely a murmur of dissent not to mention an unbearable aura of smugness from the tofu munchers of Islington.

As for me, I always eat my recommended amount of fruit and veg –  the amount recommended by me. I always comply with the maximum allowed portion of salt –  the amount decreed as okay by me. These limits may vary according to my mood on any given day so cannot be accurately measured in any meaningful way. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink, but the increasing intrusion by the state into the most personal and private spheres of our lives is in danger of driving me to both.

24 comments for “It’s All For Your Own Good

  1. May 20, 2011 at 7:17 am

    “And, frankly, it is not the place of the state to engage in such social engineering anyway. “

    Unfortunately, he who pays the piper calls the tune. If they are ‘paid’ by the State they will have to accept the State’s restrictions.

    • May 20, 2011 at 8:31 am

      Shame the State tends to forget who is paying the State. Oh, wait, no, it isn’t being paid, it’s just helping itself at gunpoint to as much as it feels like taking. Silly me, how could I forget.

      • May 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

        But the people on welfare are not the ones paying the state…

        • May 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm

          Currently. Peoples’ circumstances change. Whose to say that they haven’t contributed a fortune in previous years?

          • May 20, 2011 at 9:39 pm

            Possibly but it’s pay as you go. You pay for others to take out there and then. It’s not saved for you for when you might need it. The state is not a Friendly Society.

            Like it or not if someone is on welfare then someone else is paying. When I’m paying I want minimum expenditure on welfare. Drinking? Smoking? Got Sky? Then you’re getting too much of my money. Welfare should have no room for discretionary spending.

          • May 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

            It should provide a safety net. The whole point about paying in is that when we need it, it pays out – rather less than we have paid in. It should not be used for social engineering purposes. Today, the welfare claimant because he is a soft target. Ignore this step at your peril as tomorrow, it will be someone else, maybe you.

        • Geo
          May 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

          Paying the State does not rely solely on contribution at source. Even people on welfare spend what little money they may have and incur duty, sales tax, VAT etc. Their contribution to commercial profits also contributes to corporation tax etc. They may not be contributing to the State to the same extent as those of us fortunate enough to be in gainful employment but they do contribute to the State.

    • May 20, 2011 at 8:49 am

      Yes, that’s why they are going for targets that are not in a position to tell them where to get off. Once they’ve got that one set as a precedent, they will look further afield. They always look further afield.

      • May 20, 2011 at 10:01 am

        Funny how they never start with, ooooh, say, the NRA. 😉

      • Paul
        May 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm

        Exactly. Those of us who are disabled are first – people are being led to believe (through politicians and manipulative rubbish in the press) that all people who claim DLA and who aren’t utterly without any quality-of-life are scroungers looking for an easy life.

        I’ve had arguments with people who have abused me for claiming DLA (which is NOT removed when the disabled person finds work, by the way). They think my numerous and various neurological and physical problems are just an excuse. They don’t actually offer me a way into a job that I could actually do, so I could work for myself and bring money in. To be self-sufficient if you like. They say, you can use a computer so you can do X job. Never mind that this job is entirely unsuitable for me due to sensory overload and the likelihood that I would end up getting myself sacked due to not being up to requirements (even if I got the job in the first place – employers generally do not want people with disabilities about the place, so they reject us using another excuse as openly discriminating against us due to our disabilities is illegal).

        Not being able to secure a job and live a normal life is damaging to one’s mental health too and sense of wellbeing – I’ve had frequent bouts of depression all the way through my life as I feel I haven’t shaped up as a ‘proper’ human being. It doesn’t help when others frequently remind you of your weakness as a person. You end up developing an inferiority complex because of this, to add to all your social difficulties and other stigma that a person with a neurological disability goes through. We’re seen as defective, damaged, not worthy of the rights that others have. I’m not belittling the experiences of other people with disabilities, just stating my own.

        Then we have to deal with the ignorant and sometimes abusive public who can’t understand what it’s like to have to live a certain way for your own wellbeing and safety, or even if they do, don’t care and are actively hateful towards us.

        I don’t live a terrible life but I wouldn’t have chosen to have neurological impairments and live on benefits if I had the choice. I’m fully aware that there are lots of people who live in much worse conditions than me but that doesn’t help my own situation much.

        You have the Tories, the tabloid press and conservatives generally bashing us for being idle scroungers, you have the socialists, the public sector and the Labour party treating us like we’re cattle to be milked for more of other people’s tax money/their own idle existence and not being allowed to express ourselves as individuals – or, when we try to, we’re shouted down by people seeing it as a way to dominate and manipulate rather than understand. We’re seen as less than fully human by both sides and I’m tired of it.

        Both sides are misusing and abusing often vulnerable people for their own ends. We can’t win – we’re stuck in the middle. We’re political pawns and no-one is listening to us. It’s like we don’t exist.

        • May 24, 2011 at 6:32 am

          “We’re political pawns and no-one is listening to us. It’s like we don’t exist.”

          You’d be surprised how many non-disabled people share that perception.

          • Paul
            May 24, 2011 at 6:52 am

            You’d be surprised how many non-disabled people share that perception.

            Oh, don’t worry. I must regale you later about the utter disinterest of airport security and the police after a pair of thieving scum going to the same destination stole our sandwiches right from the baggage scanner which happened the other week.

  2. PT
    May 20, 2011 at 10:25 am

    What’s all the fuss about? There’s precedent for ration cards, isn’t there? Issue each citizen with one, with due allowance for pregnancy, manual workers, gender, age etc, and the job’s a good ‘un. The unemployed would receive a lower ration due to inactivity.
    Smokers and drinkers could also receive a ration card, but their ration would be reduced each month until they’ve stopped.
    Vehicle fuel rations could be similarly reduced, until the owners of those dreadful gas-guzzling 4X4s no longer get enough fuel even to reach the pumps, and most ex-motorists will find they have to walk much more than they used to, which will have a beneficial efect on the obesity problem; this would mean, of course, that vehicle and fuel taxes would have to rise dramatically to meet the shortfall in consumption.
    In order to spare the Great and the Good the unnecessary hardship of having to plan and devote thought to the looming problem of continuity of electricity supply brought about by reliance on wind turbines, electricity rationing should also be introduced, with a programme of rolling power cuts. Electricity supply companies will of course need to increase prices considerably to protect and enhance profit margins and offset reduced consumption. The BBC will broadcast regularly with advice to citizens to exercise vigorously every hour so as to keep warm during the winter period. Those unable to exercise, such as the sick, the elderly etc, contribute little in taxes anyway, and their natural deaths would pass mostly unnoticed. This would also have a beneficial effect on the obesity problem.
    These and other measures show how beneficial good government planning can be in improving public health by dealing with a range of lifestyle issues which affect not only the individual, but also the country and the planet as a unified whole.
    Is there anything I haven’t thought of?

    • May 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      “Smokers and drinkers could also receive a ration card, but their ration would be reduced each month until they’ve stopped…”

      Hang about here, we’ve established that the only sensible form of welfare system is universal, non-contributory, non-means tested benefits, preferably in cash (i.e. Citizen’s Income), handed to all, rich and poor alike.

      An acceptable form of taxation is taxes on fags and booze (and petrol)*. I say this without malice to smokers or drinkers as I am both, but in economic terms the taxes cause little damage. So welfare claimants with little earned income are voluntarily handing back a disproportionately large chunk of their cash payment for the simple pleasure of smoking or drinking (or driving a car). There is no need to reduce their welfare entitlement at source as this happens anyway via the tax system.

      * The main acceptable form of tax is any tax on government protected monopolies of things where the value is generated by ‘society in general’ or ‘the good governance of the state’, as Adam Smith put it.

      • May 21, 2011 at 1:15 am

        We have established? The royal we? I read one article here suggesting a citizens income but that doesn’t count as establishing anything. For my taste that suggests to much of a state. Or are you suggesting Jo of Fred goes round saying give me fifty quid so I can give it back to you? And I’ll say to Jo or Fred get stuffed.

        I think thou doest claim to much.

        Taxation is theft.

        • May 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

          Taxation is theft, land ownership is theft – make the punishment fit the crime.

          • May 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm

            Make the argument that land ownership is theft, it’s worth a blog post.

          • DavidNcl
            May 31, 2011 at 6:04 pm

            If I steal an assert from you – let’s say I take your car at gunpoint from you. Let’s say you bought the car from a dealership with money you earned from selling your labour. I’ve stolen your car.

            You have a moral right to your car which you may be able to enforce if there is some sort of legal system – rule of law.

            If someone buys the car I have stolen from you from me (the thief) they have not stolen it. They have not committed theft. They have common into the possession; knowingly or unknowingly of stolen goods and may well have committed crimes under some legal code. But they have not stolen anything. They may not even be criminals, just dupes.

            Yada yada.

            “All property is legal cases!” Not much of a slogan, but true.

  3. May 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Don’t drink, eh? Not even a wine with a meal?

    • May 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Not even that.

  4. May 21, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Also fine those who willfully encourage their own ill-health from prostate cancer by refusing to drink coffee as caffeine has been “found to reduce it by 60%”, and the next fad please.

    • May 21, 2011 at 8:56 am

      Funny you should say that; I’ve given up coffee for health reasons. Not only was it one of my migraine triggers, it was aggravating the symptoms caused by BPH…

Comments are closed.