Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bloomberg and Fat

There is an article in TNR defending Bloomberg's soda ban. As the author states:

The truth is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with paternalistic government or, in the harsher, feminized shorthand of its detractors, the “nanny state.” Parents and nannies can be good or bad. No adult likes to be told how to live his life, but most of us benefit from baby authoritarianism far more than we’d like to admit. The government doesn’t want me talking on the phone while I drive? I can’t say I’ve given that vice up completely, but fear of getting ticketed makes me do it a lot less than I used to, and I may live longer as a result. The government wants me eating less salt? I don’t live in New York, but, when I heard Bloomberg was tightening the noose, I reexamined my attachment to sodium chloride and found it to be fairly weak. Bloomberg didn’t want Hitchens to smoke? Hitchens, who died this past December of throat cancer, went to his grave believing his vices remained none of Bloomberg’s business. But after being diagnosed in 2010, he conceded unsentimentally that he had long “been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction.” If New York City regulations persuade some of his acolytes to give up cigarettes and thereby avoid his fate, don’t let’s consider his legacy tarnished.

Now the interesting fact is that Bloomberg is an engineer by training, as are the major heads of the Chinese Government.  Now strangely this is like Chinese paternalism, controlling family size. However it is rather un-American, we Americans just don't like being told what to do. You see the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are truly un-American. But perhaps we are developing the seven deadly sins; sloth, gluttony, envy etc.

But the real issue is as follows:

1. Excess calories cause obesity.

2. Obesity causes Type 2 Diabetes

3. Type 2 Diabetes causes kidney failure, blindness neurological disorders, heart failure, and the list goes on.

4. The sequellae to Type 2 Diabetes can be managed, albeit at a high cost and for an extended period of time.

5. Thus calories are a straight line to massive societal costs.

The question then who pays for this? That is the key point.

1. If we want total freedom then we must insist on allowing the costs to fall where they may. If you do not want to be told what to do then we, the tax payers, will not have any duty to care for you. Like that glutton in Monty Python, one more mint, and kaboom!

2. If we demand society, namely the taxpayer foot the bill for the gluttons, then we have free riders getting a benefit, or the rest of us incurring the liability. This is clearly an unjust situation. Jut Refer to Aristotle Nicomachaen Ethics.

3. However if we demand justice then those gluttons must pay if we allow freedom, namely a non-nanny state. The question then is how to get them to pay? Bloomberg denies this alternative and he wants to stop them.

4. The Bloomberg solution has costs. There will be costs to train, costs to comply, costs to report, and costs for failures, and costs to police. And yet the proposal totally fails to address the real problem, calorie intake. For the true problem, total calories, not soda, must be addressed in some other fashion.  Further he focuses on a large soda not on the very product itself. The consumer can disintermediate, get several smaller one. This is a costly and unworkable solution, it will not solve the problem. In fact it is an arrogant solution, and lacking in true recognition of the problem.

5. How to solve the problem. Two ways, both economic. Tax input or tax output and use the funds to pay for the sequallae. It work well on cigarettes, mainly because it was tobacco. But here we have carbs, and their calories. So we can tax all carbs, or tax per excess BMI. Just a simple proposal, since we already have the IRS doing health care compliance, we can have them do weight compliance as well. Thus for example, we can pass a law that requires every person to present themselves at the IRS office for a weigh in once a year. Then for every pound over their maximum we charge then an additional, say, $100 per year. If your maximum weight is say 150 pounds and you weigh 200, you must pay an additional $5000 per year. Imagine, the deficit gone in just one year or less. However one could imagine morbidly obese IRS agents, kindred TSA types, weighing in all of us taxpayers.