February 05, 2008
More fat, less cost
I don't know what the communitarian scolds will make of this study, but apparently people who live short and unhealthy lives cost no more to society than their healthier, slimmer, counterparts:
LONDON -- Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn't save money, researchers reported Monday.While I can't vouch for the accuracy or reliability of the data or the methodology, what's a surprise for me is that no such study would have been done before -- despite years and years of nagging and scolding.
I can understand the compassionate side of the communitarian equation. No one wants to see people die premature deaths. But if you're going to scold people with economic arguments, shouldn't you make sure that the numbers are at least correct?
The irony is that if this study is accurate, libertarians and communitarians (at least the utilitarian communitarians) might for once be on the same side -- if for very different reasons.
No longer is there any need for laws banning trans fats! Ridiculous extortionate taxes on cigarettes can be repealed! No more insane legislative efforts like this to make it a crime for restaurants to serve fat people!
While it's small comfort to me emotionally, now that I think about it, all the friends I lost to AIDS back in the 1980s and 1990s probably saved society a bundle.
The only downside of this news is that it might provide ammo for opponents of life extension technology. (A better way to address that concern might be to advocate a cutoff in social security benefits for people who live too long with the help of technology. But hey, don't expect me to do Leon Kass's job!)
posted by Eric on 02.05.08 at 09:00 AM
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