"Your unhealthy choices cost all of us!"

In what I think was a remarkably idiotic display, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm proclaimed that yesterday (Saturday, March 21, 2010) all Michiganders should refrain from eating meat!

From Friday's Free Press:

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Thursday that she won't rescind her proclamation urging Michiganders to forgo meat-eating on Saturday, even as new demands arrived in her office from state cattlemen.

Gary Voogt, a beef producer from Marne and past president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, asked Granholm to "admit you got flimflammed by an animal rights activist group, Governor, it is time to, as we say, cowboy up."

She'll admit nothing of the kind. In fact, her proclamation claims that eating meat is unhealthy:
'Michigan Meatout Day' proclamation

Whereas, A wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains promotes good health and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, which take the lives of approximately 1.3 million Americans each year; and,

Whereas, The number of those who choose to live the lifestyle of a vegan or vegetarian has increased and so has the availability and selection of meat and dairy alternatives in mainstream grocery stores, restaurants, and catering operations; and,

Whereas, Reducing the consumption of meat or not eating meat at all can significantly decrease the exposure to infectious pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter, which take the lives of several thousand Americans and sicken millions more each year;

Etc.

I don't know how many times I have kvetched that what people eat is no one else's business. Even less is it the government's business.

But I was reminded of Governor Granholm's silly proclamation when I read a brilliant essay by Zombie that Glenn Reynolds linked earlier. Zombie's biggest single objection to universal healthcare is that it forces us all to be nanny-state fascists, and he specifically mentions diet:

Who among us hasn't looked on in horror at the grotesque dietary intake of the average American? Donuts, white bread, lard, Coca-Cola, pork rinds, preservatives, sugar, grease and artificial coloring. Little toddlers drinking sweet sodas instead of milk. Teenagers eating junk food instead of brain-building food. Nary a fresh vegetable in sight. Health nuts like me spend our lives trying to treat our bodies like temples, and provide good examples for everyone else; but it's hard to compete with intense cultural pressure to eat the worst imaginable foods. As above, under normal circumstances I would sigh in mystification and let other people go their merry way, killing themselves with bad food. Yet once I start to ponder the overwhelming society-wide medical costs of keeping millions of unhealthy people alive for decades and decades, my anger grows. I want to ban advertisements for unhealthy foods on TV. I want to outlaw donuts. I want to tax McDonald's to cover the full environmental cost of their products. I want to do all sorts of quasi-fascistic things that normally I would never advocate.

Because that's what socialized medicine does: it turns each of us into a little fascist. A nagging nanny who tells other people what to do and how to live.

Damn, that is so right. And it explains why the nanny state busybodies like Jennifer Granholm almost without exception favor universal health care. They figure that once we're all paying for each other's mistakes, we will be forced to "care" more, and become ever more supportive of government intrusions we would otherwise never support.

I'm reminded of Sean Kinsell's irritation over the "flexitarians" at Trader Joe's, and my own related irritation over seeing people buy junk food with food stamps. It's not what they eat; it's that I'm paying for it! And of course now they want me to pay not only for the junk food, but for the additional consequences of eating it. The result is communitarianism, and a nation of busybodies and government informants.

Sorry, but I refuse to allow socialized medicine to turn me into a little fascist. Regardless of what the government might make me pay for; I will still refuse to support restrictions on what people do with their bodies, what they put into them, how they screw or how often, etc. I cannot support the argument that "it costs all of us because we now have socialism," because that is just using socialism (which is one wrong) to accelerate the destruction of freedom (which is another wrong). It is not an individual's stupid or unhealthy behavior that costs us; it is the unjust laws that compel us to pay.

It's socialism that costs all of us, dammit!

As far as I'm concerned, those who buy into the busybody notion that unhealthy behavior "costs all of us" because of these socialistic laws are doing little more than trying to make socialism work. (Which has long been the Republican approach to entrenched socialist programs.)

They may mean well, but they can't make socialism work. Instead, by trying to make it work, they prolong it. Prolonging socialism only makes it worse.

Socialism is worse than meat, worse than unsafe sex, worse than drinking or smoking, and worse than being fat. Socialism is the unhealthiest choice of all, and it's the number one killer in human history.

Clearly an unhealthy choice that costs all of us.

posted by Eric on 03.21.10 at 07:38 PM










Comments

I guess I can add Food Socialism to Cultural Socialism and Economic Socialism.

It appears that they are cloning socialisms faster than we can kill them.

It is now a race between the replicationists and the liquifactionists. Calling Dr. Benway.

M. Simon   ·  March 21, 2010 9:05 PM

Well said indeed. I've linked to your post; I hope you don't mind.

Mad Minerva   ·  March 21, 2010 11:06 PM

Mind? I'm flattered! You have a lovely blog too. Thanks!

Eric Scheie   ·  March 22, 2010 12:23 AM

That's one of the best posts you've ever written, in my opinion. Well said.

I was just discussing this issue yesterday with some family members who apparently support this monstrosity of a bill but would prefer to deny coverage to alcoholics who get liver disease, say, or smokers who get lung cancer. I asked if they would also support denying coverage to lifelong joggers or other athletes who need knee surgery (often multiple knee surgeries). As many as a third of obese people never experience "obesity-related" chronic conditions such as diabetes; should we deny them coverage just because they're obese, even though they are otherwise as healthy as any other person? How about people who do not have DNR orders? They could have chosen to just die and not make us pay for their relentless hanging-on to life, the selfish b*tards, so why should I have to pay for them?

I mean, if we're going down the fascist road, why not go whole hog? Incidentally, two of the people arguing against covering alcoholics are, um, on Medicaid and just bought a new flat-screen TV and got cable and have two cell phones and were griping about how they can't *afford* health insurance. Right. I suggested they try opening a savings account to use to pay for health care. Blank stares.

In arguing with people like this, because I find that appeals to liberty and common decency don't work because they are usually too far gone along the socialist/fascist line, I do point out that it is unlikely that over a lifetime fat alcoholic smokers cost "society" any more than anyone else, and possibly they cost less, simply because most of the time elderly people use more health care and cost more to treat than younger people, even sick ones, and so, in general, the younger people die, the less they tend to cost (again, over a lifetime). It makes sense, and there is research backing this up, that someone who died at 55 would end up costing less than someone who hung around another 30 years or so. Oddly, no one supports punishing healthy people who live long lives, though. Can't imagine why.

Julie   ·  March 22, 2010 1:58 AM

Does present a dilemma. Fat or Fiat?

Governments which discourage bad habits tend to first frown and urge. But soon they are issuing orders.

Tenet #1 of government "You will obey."

It is usually easier to rule by lies than by force. So governments try huge propaganda efforts instead.

Propaganda sounds like this "Save the planet. Eating one Big Mac kills an orphan in Bolivia. We all just want a better world."

Such propaganda produces great confusion. The people know better. But if some in the government start to believe their own propaganda then mischief follows.


KTWO   ·  March 22, 2010 2:30 AM

I hope that you can see that your refusal to become a fascist is a direct rebuttal to Zombie's post -- one that I was thoroughly disgusted by.

Perhaps that is because I have been online long before it became the internet and Zombie's post was merely a repost not of his/her own thinking but of those who came 20+ years before.

Of course insurance (health, auto, homeowners... I've heard the argument in all instances) would be cheaper if only perfect humans (like Zombie, et al) were allowed to purchase it.

But those imperfect beings must be required to purchase it to protect the perfect, right?

Donna B.   ·  March 22, 2010 2:59 AM

The argument socialized medicine requires us to tyrannize the citizens based on the cost of the unhealthiness of their habits is bunk. It only makes sense if those of healthy habits never die or never undergo an expensive final illness.

Brett   ·  March 22, 2010 7:49 AM

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