for over 20 yrs, i've been struggling with my bleeding heart side and my self-responsibility side when it comes to wellness and fitness. knowing what i know and how difficult it is for some, for whatever multitude of reasons, to better manage their own health, i still find myself disgusted by those who allow themselves to retreat so far from a state of wellness by engaging in behaviors that are clearly counter productive. when i see young people smoke cigarettes - when i heard my own 28 y/o son smoked - i get angry, dismayed, and disgusted. when i see grossly overweight parents buying junk food for their kids, let alone themselves, i get angry, dismayed, and disgusted. when i hear and read of people spending hours - even my own teenage girls do this - in front of a tv or computer - oops, i'm in front of one now! - i get angry, dismayed, and disgusted. too many behaviors that too many americans - i can't worry about other nationalities right now - engage in are self destructive; worse, they are community and nationally destructive. they increase everyone's cost basis, increase the general discomfort - ever sit next to an obese person on an airplane? believe me, they don't feel real comfortable, either - and increase the level of medical insecurity we all have to face when, should it ever be required, as in war or even natural disaster, we must act with vigor and speed. if you live on an island, feel free to consume junk food and watch tons of tv; if you live in the real world, even if you can afford your own insurance and services and a personal trainer, you should not feel so comfortable in your right as an individual.
but this ny times op ed piece puts my arguments in economic terms that may actually be feasible politically. not yet; too contentious out there. but someday, maybe: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24bittman.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=opinion
whether it is appropriate or not for the government - esp the fed - to tax certain foods is not, philosophically, a hard issue to confront. in fact, the fed is already, and has for years been, telling us what and how to eat, specifically by subsidizing certain food types such as beef, dairy, wheat, soy, sugar, and corn. by keeping costs either high or low or even just buttressed against the swings of the markets, its tax policies have enabled food choices to reach us that do not justify government intervention because they actually hurt us. there are millions of arguments for or against certain policies and food products but some, such as those highlighted in this piece, make common as well as economic sense.
as for free choice - ok, fine, but not on my or our dime(s): if you receive any sort of state-funded welfare, esp for food, then you are limited to food, not junk; if you receive state-supported health care - even medicare - you should be whipped into shape, at least better shape, by being excoriated to get moving. even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. if you are in line for bariatric surgery, you should be forced to engage in a one yr fitness regimen and lose X% of your weight first before being 'entitled' to a procedure that effectively costs the system over $50Gs. and if you can't do so because you're already so morbidly obese as to be unable to move at all, then - well, you don't want to hear my opinion on this, now do you?