Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Teenage suicide

.... do it!
It's cheaper for the rest of us than you living a long, happy life, apparently, in terms of health care costs, which are, after all, the only impact you'll have on the economy in your lifetime. Or so sez Megan

Of course, even arguing thusly joins in the assumption that smoking and obesity do drive up health care costs. This seems to be in some doubt. Cancer and massive myocardial infarctions may be expensive, but not nearly as expensive as, say, a prolonged bout with Alzheimers requiring a decade of long-term care. Dying young, even of an expensive disease, turns out to be cheaper than living a long, healthy life. If you really want to save money, you should probably start taxing fitness club memberships.
This might be the starkest display of Megan's inherent inhumanity I've seen.
And that's not even her main point in the post. Her main point is to conflate disliking busybodies with libertarianism, and stand up to the "nanny state".
I've always hated people who argue that the state is justified in nannying us about our eating habits and smoking, because after all, it raises health care costs. There's a creeping totalitarianism about it--"Well, we nationalized health care, so now we get to supervise your every move to make sure you don't cost too much!"
Megan is so concerned about this issue she's ready to wave off the most concrete example of it in society today; private companies and their insurers trying to affect their employees' behaviors.
[So why do health insurance companies spend money on smoking reduction and weight-loss programs? --ed. Because your dying young is expensive for them. People who live a long time die on Medicare's dime.]
See, it's ok for private companies to do it, they're worried about their profits. (And Megan? No one believes you have an editor.) The post ends with a further display of dumb inhumanity.
Of course, we're not actually trying to save money; presumably, we all agree that it would be nice if everyone lived a long time, even if that meant they cost a boatload more in medical costs. But this is not a good argument for attempting to force them into healthier habits through things like sin taxes. And every time someone wants to raise the taxes on tobacco or sue Coca-cola for being too damn delicious, we hear that we're entitled, because after all, they're costing us money.
I wasn't aware Coke is being sued. I do know I don't drink it because high fructose corn syrup is disgusting stuff that gives me bad indigestion. And guess what, sin taxes, in my personal instance, did what they're supposed to; they helped me quit smoking. 8-10 bucks for a pack of Dunhills in the city is no joke. It wasn't the only reason I quit, by any means, but the prospect of shifting that money to Whole Foods was no small incentive. Plus, once I put on a couple pounds I started exercising much more regularly, so it was win-win. Megan is trying to conflate small pushes in a certain direction with telling people what to do, and that boat don't float.
Besides, don't sin taxes make those behaviors even more financially rewarding for the rest of us?

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