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Obese People, Smokers, and Other Unhealthy People

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Scott

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Obese People, Smokers, and Other Unhealthy People

Post Number:#1  PostJuly 28th, 2009, 9:18 pm

On a newsgroup I recently saw someone complaining about obese people and smokers because he feels we will have to pay more in taxes to pay for these unhealthy people's increased health care costs. He then asked if government could tackle weight gain without intruding into the citizens' kitchens, restaurants and grocery stores? I think that is a very interesting question, and it can easily be made in regard to other unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. So what do you think?

In my opinion, if we are forced by the government to be in a health care plan with people who don't take care of themselves (e.g. overeat, smoke, etc.), then I would like the government to also make them pay more for it. Also, if the government is going to use taxpayers money to fix the problems caused by those unhealthy behaviors (overeating, smoking and so forth), then I think it is fair to make those people pay more in taxes, which is most easily done by taxing unhealthy behaviors like smoking and eating unhealthily. I do not want to be forced to pay for someone else's unhealthy habit; it's not fair to me, and it's enabling to them. Don't you agree?
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Re: Obese People, Smokers, and Other Unhealthy People

Post Number:#2  PostJuly 29th, 2009, 3:35 am

Scott wrote:I do not want to be forced to pay for someone else's unhealthy habit; it's not fair to me, and it's enabling to them. Don't you agree?

Are you suggesting that the obese are only in such a condition as a resuly of making 'poor' choices? If so, wouldn't that be as antiquated and ignorant as thinking that gays make a conscious choice to be that way?
I certainly acknowledge other factors, out of the individual's control (actually, if the notion of 'self control' is valid in the first place, there would be no 'obese' people!)
No, no more 'choice' than my 'slower' and more 'challenged' brethren (Down's Syndrome, for example) have in who they are.
I consider myself fortunate to be able to contribute toward making life a bit more bearable for my fellow 'selves'.
So, you would rather 'support' someone with, for instance, a birth 'defect', or you would not 'assist' anyone but 'family'? Yourself?

It makes sense that the gov't ban unhealthy and toxic foods. They, to an antiquated extent, already do so. Time for a critical update! Other countries have already banned those toxic 'energy drinks', but the income derived from poisoning our people must be maintained. Hence smokers (and their neighbors) becomming cancerous and people already genetically (and in other ways) 'at risk' bloat under a barrage of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated lard.
Yeah, where to draw the line between (those worthy of our) compassion (if any) and judgemental hypocritical self-riteous smug apathy for those who don't?
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Post Number:#3  PostJuly 29th, 2009, 4:09 am

I think yes and no. This is the tip of the iceberg for approximately a third of everything that is wrong with healthcare in the US. This part of the root problem is prevention versus treatment. It doesn't just apply for people who smoke; it applies for people who don't get a check up or who ignore signs of disease. The current system doesn't really do anything about that; too much paperwork.

The government might have an easier time of making it beneficial for us to be responsible. As you said, this means drawing a line where the government needs to allow us to make our own choices and push us in the right direction. It also needs to reduce the pressure on responsible people to pay for irresponsible people. The most obvious way, to me, is to charge a higher premium for people who miss checkups and go against doctor's orders.

The disadvantages of this are pretty substantial though; the biggest is that it adds tension to the doctor-patient relationship. However, I think doctors should be a bit pushier--which is part of the reason prevention is so hard right now. It would also put more pressure on doctors from the government...

So that's pretty complicated.

Also, we already tax smokers. I think it'd be a good idea to tax unhealthy foods too. We should make them a luxury instead of a staple. I suppose that money could go towards healthcare costs. This option makes more sense to me, but you'd be fighting companies like McDonalds instead of companies like BlueCrossBlueShield. And you wouldn't be making sure people got their checkups.
nameless wrote:Are you suggesting that the obese are only in such a condition as a resuly of making 'poor' choices? If so, wouldn't that be as antiquated and ignorant as thinking that gays make a conscious choice to be that way?

Nope, since there's a lot more evidence that people's health is related to their diet (unlike sexuality) and people usually choose their diet (unlike sexuality).
"I have nothing new to teach the world" -Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi
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Post Number:#4  PostJuly 29th, 2009, 4:19 am

Nameless said, "I certainly acknowledge other factors, out of the individual's control (actually, if the notion of 'self control' is valid in the first place, there would be no 'obese' people!)
No, no more 'choice' than my 'slower' and more 'challenged' brethren (Down's Syndrome, for example) have in who they are."

I say... Self-control does exist, some people are just unwilling to utilize in may areas of their lives for varying reasons. To relate an avoidable and unfixable mental retardation like Down's syndrome to a free-will decision to over-eat is quite silly in my mind.

I will give you an example. I am way too thin. I'm 5'10" and weigh 135. I work-out though and am pretty muscular. Part of this skinny 'disease' as I assume you might call it is because of my genetics. I have an extremely fast motabolism. However, if I were more dedicated than I currently am, I could gain the 20 pounds or so that I would like to. The fact that I do not eat properly and that I smoke cigarettes, which deflates my appetite, is the primary factor. I am to blame for this.

Rather than allowing the government to prohibit or over-tax donuts and tobacco, or over-taxing people who indulge in unhealthy lifestyles (which is our right dammit), I propose that if you're in the hospital for reasons caused by unhealthy activities you pay the difference. I think it's reasonable to say that it's unfair for your taxes to go to supporting my medical expenses when that unhealthy lifestyle was of my choosing.

Ah, but then again, what about the people who indulge in healthy but risky hobbies like sports? If they break a leg while doing something healthy should our tax dollars be expected to help them recover since it was their own decision to behave in such a risky fashion?

Perhaps we should quit whining about our wallets and just help each other. I will not tolerate intolerance! :lol:
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Post Number:#5  PostJuly 29th, 2009, 8:39 am

Alun wrote:
nameless wrote:Are you suggesting that the obese are only in such a condition as a resuly of making 'poor' choices? If so, wouldn't that be as antiquated and ignorant as thinking that gays make a conscious choice to be that way?

Nope, since there's a lot more evidence that people's health is related to their diet (unlike sexuality) and people usually choose their diet (unlike sexuality).

Nope. The evidence is in. If it were just about 'choice' there would be no obese, and no 'fenceposts'. Everyone has their personal excuses and pointing fingers at others. Ego. Irrational.
There are genetic factors, there are societal factors, there are mental and emotional factors, there are geographic factors.... It is the same ignorance that suggests obesity is simply the visible result of some character weakness as it is to suggest that people 'choose' to be gay! The ignorance is equivalent.
Belief in 'free-will/choice' is no more than vanity, ego.

And as far as denying sexuality similarly affects people's health, where ya been?
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Post Number:#6  PostJuly 29th, 2009, 9:16 am

Tax unhealthy foods???

I'm a skinny bastard and eating a juicy big-mac and a donut should be considered healthy for me because I NEED fatty foods and as many calories as I can find.

The food item is not the problem. It is the willing abuse of the food item that is to blame.

Nameless - You really think we have no control over what we eat? It's simple. Just put down the f-ing fork! Or in my case, pick it up! I'm getting hungry. But not too hungry.
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Post Number:#7  PostJuly 29th, 2009, 9:29 am

Nameless, do you feel that smoking cigarettes significantly differs from overeating? If so, how? They are both addictive, they are both expensively unhealthy, and they are both choices that some people make and some people do not, for some people its easier to avoid or quit and exercise self-control and for others it is harder, especially I think for those who are depressed, who were not taught self-control as much, and who have an addictive personality.

But I still think it is unfair for one person to have to pay for the expenses caused by the unhealthiness of a second person's voluntary habit, such as smoking, overeating, drinking alcohol, boxing, having unprotected sex with many different partners, daredevil risk taking, et cetera. Don't you? Would you mind paying for that? What about if my friend dares me to jump off my roof, I do it knowing the likely risk that I might incur an expensive injury, break my ankle, go to the hospital and get a bill for $1,000; how would you feel if someone made you pay for it or some of it?

Homicidal Pacifist wrote:Tax unhealthy foods???

I'm a skinny bastard and eating a juicy big-mac and a donut should be considered healthy for me because I NEED fatty foods and as many calories as I can find.

The food item is not the problem. It is the willing abuse of the food item that is to blame.

That's a good point. I agree that I do not think it would be fair to tax everyone who uses something because some people use it unhealthily while others use it moderately and healthily. If the proposed taxed object is used for healthy purposes, then I would suggest we find a way to tax the unhealthy usage of it. Though in the case of a Big Mac, I don't think it would ever be considered healthy. I doubt I doctor would ever recommend that, even to a skinny person.

Also, I only want to tax expensive, unhealthy behaviors if the taxpayers are being forced to pay for their cost, namely the increased health care costs. If someone chooses to engage in an unhealthy activity, but that person is paying for the health care costs not the taxpayers, then I say live and let live and forget the tax.
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Post Number:#8  PostJuly 29th, 2009, 9:51 am

I NEED cholesterol! I don't have ANY! Someone, quick, get a giant sloppy bag animal fat!
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Post Number:#9  PostDecember 16th, 2009, 3:18 pm

Scott wrote:

Also, I only want to tax expensive, unhealthy behaviors if the taxpayers are being forced to pay for their cost, namely the increased health care costs. If someone chooses to engage in an unhealthy activity, but that person is paying for the health care costs not the taxpayers, then I say live and let live and forget the tax.


I also agree with this, and based on that logic, cigarette smokers shouldn’t be taxed for other people’s health care, or take on an additional burden of paying for roads or anything ... and here I’m speaking in comparison to the average tax payer.

I live in Wisconsin and this state is fifth-highest in the county for cigarette taxes. In addition, from a WI state Website, it states, "Cigarettes, with tax collections of $551.3 million, continue to be the largest excise tax generator."

These taxes do not go into a fund for smokers, or say for smoker-related illnesses. They fund things like veteran and children health care programs, budget shortfalls, and so on. In other words, smokers are paying for other people’s health care. It’s not necessarily the other way around, especially considering smokers are being taxed more than nonsmokers. I personally viewit as unequal taxation.

So, really, I only wanted to point out that smokers ARE taxpayers and that money is taken from them and not for their health care.
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Post Number:#10  PostDecember 16th, 2009, 4:35 pm

Anon007 wrote:I live in Wisconsin and this state is fifth-highest in the county for cigarette taxes. In addition, from a WI state Website, it states, "Cigarettes, with tax collections of $551.3 million, continue to be the largest excise tax generator."

I see the potential problem of overtaxing, but that single statistic doesn't mean much by itself. It could only mean what you are implying if compared to other statistics. How much do the state and local governments in Wisconsin pay for health care? What about for 911 and similar emergency services? Is there an estimate for how much more the average non-smoker in that state has to pay out of their own pocket for unhealthy effects of secondhand smoke? How much does the state and local governments spend on regulating cigarette sales and trying to stop minors from getting cigarettes?
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Post Number:#11  PostDecember 16th, 2009, 6:18 pm

Having more sick people already makes health care costs go up. That's part of the reason we're having the health care cost crisis in the first place. So I don't feel sorry for cigarette smokers; the added cost of the cigarette reflects the strain their unhealthy lifestyle puts on the system. Of course, I have no idea how much of a tax would be too much.
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Re: Obese People, Smokers, and Other Unhealthy People

Post Number:#12  PostDecember 20th, 2009, 12:40 pm

Scott wrote:In my opinion, if we are forced by the government to be in a health care plan with people who don't take care of themselves (e.g. overeat, smoke, etc.),
then I would like the government to also make them pay more for it. Also, if the government is going to use taxpayers money to fix the problems caused by those unhealthy behaviors (overeating, smoking and so forth), then I think it is fair to make those people pay more in taxes, which is most easily done by taxing unhealthy behaviors like smoking and eating unhealthily. I do not want to be forced to pay for someone else's unhealthy habit; it's not fair to me, and it's enabling to them. Don't you agree?


To an extent, just to be devils advocate here, this is, I'm guessing, coming from someone who is healthy and doesn't overeat or smoke. As such you have nothing to lose, ergo are you at risk of sounding biased?

To be fair, being an occational smoker and other substance taker (though am relatively healthy) myself I can see from both sides, and I would agree with you on objective grounds, and do not mind having to pay extra if its for the good of the society as a whole, though frustrating.
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Re: Obese People, Smokers, and Other Unhealthy People

Post Number:#13  PostDecember 20th, 2009, 3:05 pm

Simon says... wrote:To an extent, just to be devils advocate here, this is, I'm guessing, coming from someone who is healthy and doesn't overeat or smoke. As such you have nothing to lose, ergo are you at risk of sounding biased?

This seems to me to be an instance of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy.

Incidentally, I do many unhealthy things. I once wrote a very popular article that got a lot of publicity online entitled 71 Thing You Can Do, even though I have not consistently done most of them. The intent of the article was that nobody's perfect and self-improvement is wiser than being self-righteous or making up excuses for why one's life isn't better.

Anyway, for an example of an instance where I'm less at the risk of sounding bias, I drink alcohol regularly and I am pleased to pay taxes on alcohol and would be happy if the taxes on it were increased. It's an unhealthy luxury. And drinking it less is one of those 71 things I could do. This mirrors your views regarding your own occasional smoking, I think.
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Post Number:#14  PostDecember 21st, 2009, 5:31 pm

From the arguments so far I see many different views. Who practices healthy living, who does not, and who should pay for another? It seems usual that anyone would prefer someone else pay the tab. There are three choices; government, corporation, or individual.

I have heard that the existing health insurance system was established after WWII by manufacturing firms to help keep trained employees. That would make it one of the methods business uses as a competitive factor.

That insurance companies are funded by other corporate systems for competitive purposes have taken the cost of heath care at least three steps from the user. It is applied by bureaucratic clerical workers whose function is to keep the insurance company profitable; a right notion. Its customers are largely corporations that to survive keep it going to hold employees they have expended moneys to train from going to a competitor.

Before this innovation people bought their own insurance, or paid the costs from pocket. This kept the cost down because individuals simply refused large fees; most probably because they were unaffordable, or that families thought highly expensive procedures too great a burden on the whole household.

If individuals funded health care from pocket, costs would be lower. Also, if insurance were sold to individuals their health risks would naturally be imposed into individual premiums. We would have a self controlling natural market.

By the present method high prices have driven the pharmaceutical and apparatus research. It is very large because the potential profits are very large. I like the innovations but it may have reached past equalibrium.

Government interjection will have cause and effect we may not foresee. If government runs a high deficit there will be a great political pressure to cut costs of medical attention. Also, who will be satisfied of government determinations of what is healthy living? From a look at other long term programs, I suspect no one will be.

If systems remained as is natural business decisions will rein in the cost at some point when the lack of return on investment is discovered. Government will rein it in by unequal application of premium based on least political resistance totally dependent on what philosophical plurality is in congress at that moment.

The choice, private or public, will reach a saturation level at which prices must level. I predict that with either we have seen the heyday of large R&D and those miracle drugs and machine inventions. My preference is that market forces will more effectively and fairly soothe the pain to come than a politician. My pocketbook is more meaningful to me than your pocketbook. My determination on who is too fat, who is a drunk, who is a cowboy, should not be considered unless I am an insurer.
"That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." J.S.Mill
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Re: Obese People, Smokers, and Other Unhealthy People

Post Number:#15  PostDecember 24th, 2009, 6:09 pm

Scott wrote:On a newsgroup I recently saw someone complaining about obese people and smokers because he feels we will have to pay more in taxes to pay for these unhealthy people's increased health care costs. He then asked if government could tackle weight gain without intruding into the citizens' kitchens, restaurants and grocery stores? I think that is a very interesting question, and it can easily be made in regard to other unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. So what do you think?

In my opinion, if we are forced by the government to be in a health care plan with people who don't take care of themselves (e.g. overeat, smoke, etc.),
then I would like the government to also make them pay more for it. Also, if the government is going to use taxpayers money to fix the problems caused by those unhealthy behaviors (overeating, smoking and so forth), then I think it is fair to make those people pay more in taxes, which is most easily done by taxing unhealthy behaviors like smoking and eating unhealthily. I do not want to be forced to pay for someone else's unhealthy habit; it's not fair to me, and it's enabling to them. Don't you agree?
underline by ape


Hi Scott,


I agree that unhealthy eaters shd pay for their own health problems --- but only if we are also not guilty of the same attitude of mind which enables those people to eat and smoke unheathily, and if only we agree to help those people have the healthy attitude of mind that leads to eating healthy and breathing healthy. :idea:


THEN, if they refuse to have a healthy attitude towards themselves, THEN we make 'em pay---and they pay double! :idea:


Merry Xmas or Happy Holidays! :)
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