Fat fix isn’t government’s responsibility

Freedom New Mexico

In case the drug war wasn’t enough government boondoggle, we have a new war on food abuse.

Despite the portion of Americans who work hard to stay fit, an estimated 129.6 million Americans, or 64 percent, are fat. The fat war started about 10 years ago, when government nutritionists stopped issuing reports and starting suggesting controls. Lots of agencies, with important sounding acronyms, study fat people. We have the Centers for Disease Control, the Weight-control Information Network, National Institutes of Health and The American Obesity Association — just to name a few. These and other organizations have spent billions and amassed tomes of information, studies and recommendations.

The result? We grow fatter each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion. Our children are more overweight than ever. Obesity is connected to depression, heart disease, diabetes and other disorders.

So politicians must fix it, of course. First Lady Michelle Obama launched “Let’s Move,” an ambitious program to combat childhood obesity. At the same time, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum that broadened the federal government’s role to coordinate efforts against childhood obesity.

The Obama administration has flirted with the prospect of fat taxes.

In Arizona, conservative Republican Gov. Jan Brewer wants an annual $50 fat tax for anyone deemed obese who refuses to follow a specified plan for getting thin. Time magazine reports that similar taxes would apply to smokers who do not quit and to people with chronic diseases who fail to manage them as directed. Brewer hopes the taxes will reduce costs of Medicaid in Arizona. We should expect similar proposals to quickly sweep through most of the country.

A just-released University of Alberta study found that shoppers — fat and skinny alike — were deterred by labels on food that warned of high fat content and an additional tax associated with it.

It’s an indisputable fact that people who smoke or eat too much, in general, have more health problems than those who do not.

It’s also an indisputable fact that if we raise taxes on an activity we get less of it. That’s why we believe progressive taxes on profits and success result in less production and job growth.

The war on fat people should serve as a wake-up call for what will take place if the United States Supreme Court fails to end Obamacare by ruling it unconstitutional. As Brewer has determined in Arizona, government has a vested interest — even an obligation — to control the most personal decisions of individuals who pose liability to the state. To administrators of government-run health plans, fat people and smokers represent disproportionate liability. Taxes have the ability to change their behaviors.

Fat people and smokers are easy targets.

But why punish the obese if we’re not to penalize drinkers. Those who lead lives of sexual promiscuity cost society with STDs and unwanted pregnancies, so they should most certainly pay hefty fines for sleeping around. And what about Americans who use too much salt, placing themselves at risk of hypertension? We should penalize parents with kids who ride skateboards, ski, or play football — all dangerous activities. We should penalize Americans who live near fault lines or in Tornado Alley.

A country in which governments provide health care cannot be a country in which individuals are free to indulge without state intervention. It will be a country in which all are pressured to walk lockstep, answering to politicians for enjoying too much ice cream. So laugh at the fat people. Then remember that old famous poem, and revise it a bit: “First they came for the fat people, and I did not speak…”