Being Overweight Is Bad for All of Us, So Let's Do Something About It

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In recent columns Paul Krugman and Michael Fumento both argue that what you eat and how much exercise you get are not private matters because the cost of your extra pounds is borne by other people through health insurance and taxpayer-funded medical care. Neither distinguishes between the voluntary risk pooling of private health coverage and the compelled subsidies of Medicare and Medicaid. Yet private insurers are free to charge fat people more, and their customers are free to shop around for a better deal if they don't like the terms of their current coverage. By contrast, government-supported health care imposes the costs of obesity-related illnesses on people who have not agreed to the arrangement and cannot opt out.

Even here, the net financial impact is unclear. If overweight people tend to die earlier and therefore draw less on Medicare and Social Security in old age, their adiposity may save taxpayers more than it costs, as appears to be the case with smokers. Or it could be a wash. You can't simply assume that the net effect is to increase government spending, unless you're just grasping at post hoc rationalizations for a policy you think is justified on other grounds.

It looks like that's what Krugman is doing. "More important" than costs paid by others, he says, is the fact that people are not truly free to choose what they eat. Hence the government must save them from the consequences of their excesses. More broadly, Krugman thinks the "public health" mantra justifies any government policy that reduces disease, whether it's building sewers, taxing cigarettes, or discouraging people from having another slice of pie. "Obesity is America's fastest-growing health problem," he concludes. "Let's do something about it." It almost doesn't matter what, I guess, because he doesn't suggest any specific policies.

For his part, Fumento (a former Reason science correspondent and author of a book on obesity) insists that your weight is not "strictly a personal issue"; calls fatness a "sociogenic illness" (because the more fat people there are, the more acceptable it is to be fat); and suggests it's a threat to national security (because so many young men and women are too fat to serve in the armed forces). "It's long past time to accept…that being overweight…is bad [not just] for individuals, but for all of us," he writes. Like Krugman, Fumento is strangely silent on the practical impact of that realization.

Since neither Krugman nor Fumento thinks it's worth even suggesting what, exactly, the government should do about the extra helping of meat loaf you had last night–as long as we all recognize that fatness is a crisis requiring collective action–let's forget about the details for the moment. Let's just reflect on whether we want to accept the proposition that everyone's unhealthy habits are everyone else's business. Contrary to Krugman's implication, one needn't be a "blind ideologue" to worry about living in a world governed by that principle.

[Thanks to Michael Stack for the Krugman link.]

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  1. Language to the rescue! If we can solve the problem of the handicapped by calling them “differently-abled,” can’t we just call fat people “famine-resistant?”

  2. Try SlimFast — for the good of the Fatherland, citizens!

  3. First they came for the smokers, then for the fat people…

    Seriously, I’m going to vomit the first time some politician publicly calls for a “War on Fat.”

  4. Seriously, I’m going to vomit

    Ah…bulimia…you’ll just be playing into their hands.

  5. I say laugh at ’em! If you see a big ol’ tubbalard waddling down the mall with khaki shorts cuffed taut around vast thighs, revealing knees that resemble doughy gargoyles, and shins that maintain a constant shudder from supporting such an unstable corpulent bulk, LAUGH AT THEM.
    (I attend science fiction and comic conventions. I have some small experience with fat folk.)

  6. Inserting standard disclaimer:

    We understand that some people are obese and cannot possibly lose weight because of an underlying illness ( Hypothyroidism for example). These people we do not assess blame on their dietary habits.

    As for the other 99.9%, they’re still eating too fucking much. (or really just exercising too little). But’s it’s their problem.

  7. Since I started smoking, I’ve dropped 20 pounds. What do these bastards want from me???

  8. We could always beat up the fat people and steal their lunch money. This would not only help them pay a little extra for their extra burden on sociaty, but it would reduce their midday food consumption as well.

  9. Prescription cocaine for fat people!!

  10. Twinkies are to blame.

  11. Jeff and chtus,
    I’m going to find you and sit on you. You are warned.

  12. what – it’s safer than meth right?!

  13. Oh, I’m aware that some folk can’t help thier size. I’ll even throw in a waiver for big folks who dress in clothes that fit them. I point to John Candy as an example, who always looked good on SCTV because his clothes were tailored. Even at his largest, he never had a big flab o’ gut hanging over his belt.

    There was once a comedy duo who did a bit in their act where they would play out the trailers of fake horror movies. One was “Fat Women in Spandex Pants!” You’ll hear the inventer of Spandex cry “I never intended it for eeeeeevil purposes!”

  14. At any point, are we going to have a war on annoying people?

  15. And while I’m at it, fat porn is immoral.
    I can accept midget porn and urine-play, but fat porn needs to be eliminated.

  16. If what I eat is a public responsibility, then, I daresay, personal responsibility is dead. What could be more personal than that?

    I, for one, welcome our new anti-obesity overlords.

    I can’t wait until they impose mandatory Maoist daily calisthenics. After all, your cellulite is public bidness.

    Oh, christ, can we just skip the fucking foreplay and move right on to the logical conclusion of all this: communism. I mean, really. If your health is “public responsibility”, then, everything you do, every last drop of water you drink, every last step you take, is ripe for government control.

    Fucking healthists. It’s my life. If I want to live a fun and indulgent 65 years rather than a boring and restrained 85 years, then it’s nobody’s business but my own. And if I’m in a group health plan, charge me more.

    But, hell, back here in reality, I’m in bodybuilding shape. I exercise & lift weights 5-6 times/week. I eat good food. I spend $65/month on a plush gym membership. Do I get a single dollar off my insurance prems for it? Ha! At the same time, other people in my plan are fat and lazy and eat doritos 3 meals a day. But until they actually show big health problems, they don’t get charged any extra. Why is all this?

    As for medicare/caid, aside from the quite valid arguments that, [A) dying earlier may actually subtract expenses from the funds, and B) government-funded healthcare will never be as efficient as private healthcare], I just don’t know why I can’t “opt out”? Don’t take my money, and in return, when I’m poor and dying, you don’t have to take care of me.

  17. I’m going to start a war against any politician who calls for a war against anything other than a sovereign nation.

  18. If the War on Obesity works as well as the wars against drugs and poverty, then within 5 years even Calysta Flockhart (spelling?) will be obese.

  19. Fumento just got done reporting that Fallujah has become the garden spot of the Middle East too. He’s on a streak.

  20. “(I attend science fiction and comic conventions. I have some small experience with fat folk.)”

    Ahh, 100 tacos, this should be adequate sustenance for the Dr. Who marathon!

  21. The punch line is that, if the “War on Obesity” succeeds, there will be bailouts for the fast-food industry.

  22. The punch line is that, if the “War on Obesity” succeeds, there will be bailouts for the fast-food industry.

    Say it ain’t so!

  23. I would support a voluntary exchange system: If I have to walk an extra twenty feet to circumnavigate your girth and avoid the atmospheric disturbance you leave in your wake, I get to belly-bongo you for five seconds.

    I’d support some government support of the obese, provided they were forced to perform for us, like Sumo. Let the concussive slap of two bellies colliding be the new sound of freedom!

  24. Evan: There is nothing funnier than a fat Stormtrooper. They actually mold their plastic armor to fit them. They look like blaster-toting egg-men.

  25. Although, thinking about it, I certainly could do without the latest crop of young women who’ve been taught that all different bodies are beautiful and take it WAY too far with their choice of tight and revealing clothing.

    I don’t want to be mean, but really, if you’ve got to pull your t-shirt down every five minutes because your gut comes flopping out of the bottom, you shouldn’t be wearing that shirt.

  26. Come now brother, a man of your age should surely be able to touch his toes.

    Doubleplusgood

    Seriously though, couldn’t we just cut back on farm subsidies and raise the price of high fructose corn syrup. If bottled water wasn’t more expensive than soda the obesity problem might not be so bad. We also get to save money twice.

  27. Jeff,

    I think you’re right about the stormtrooper thing. Now that’s some funny shit.

  28. Know what, I can’t win. I try to quit smoking and I gain 20 pounds. I think the gubmint wants me to be frustrated. Add that to my nic fit and I think I’m ready to go postal.

    Perhaps I will vent my frustrations on the nearest anti-anything busybody. Buyt I will only do so while eating a rare hamburger, smoking an unfiltered cigarette and drinking a stein of beer.

    Freaking screwballs. They should be forced to work a week at a REAL job.

    Live free, fall or fat.

  29. Nah, it’s great! The government is like a second economy, and anyone who plays can win! Here’s just a taste:

    – The lowest-bidding weight-loss company can get a contract to run classes and sell health shakes.
    – (as suggested by MK) Subsidies go to those fast-food companies who’ve taken the simple step of donating to the campaigns of the dominant political party.
    – Advertising firms get to devise on the federal government’s “Slim Ain’t Shady” campaign.
    – Enterprise zones are established for building new healthy restaurants granting tax breaks to the entrepreneurs most gifted at exuding the aura of health.

    Each and every fat person can send away for a pamphlet with valuable weight loss tips, printed on government presses, with material from the ad film, coupons from the weight-loss company, directions to the healthy restaurants, and endorsements and logos from the fast-food firms, delivered by the USPS.

  30. Stop driving and start walking. Make friends with the crazy people on your way to work. That sort of thing should probably come easier to libertarians.

  31. Public ignorance is the fastest-growing problem affecting our social discourse. I blame moronic, hysterical op-eds. Plainly this means we need government controls on Krugman’s writing!

  32. In all seriousness, the government should stop requiring those Nutrition Facts labels that are “based on a 2,000 calorie diet.” Two thousand calories? I’m 5’3″ and skinny, but if I ate 2,000 calories a day, unless I were doing manual labor, I’d be a complete butterball by the end of the month. How hard is it to figure out that I probably don’t need as much food as my 6’3″ boyfriend does each day?

  33. At any point, are we going to have a war on annoying people?

    “We” would have to stop paying them first.

  34. Who is this guy and what has he done with Paul Krugman?

  35. OK. Jeff made me laugh out loud reading a blog for the first time in a long time with the new sound of freedom comment.

    On a more serious note, fat people vote, they’re non-partisan, and they are gradually becoming the majority. I see no more convincing sign that socialized medicine is coming to the U.S. than that.

  36. Hey tros, er I mean braincrab, I love crazy libertarians. They are much preferable to the tree-huggers and hippies here in the twin cities.

    Embrace cretinism!

  37. suggesting what, exactly, the government should do about the extra helping of meat loaf you had last night

    Ok, that’s just freaky. Who at Reason set up a camera in my mother’s kitchen??? I know you did the personalized covers a few issues ago, but this is taking it too far.

    I’m with Adam – prescription cocaine for fat people.

  38. I should specify that I do not consider someone who puts on 20 lbs to be obese. I was once close to 250, but I’m 6’3″ and am now down to 190. I’m fine that. I mean the truly corpulent, the nine-meal-a-day aspire-to-be-on-Springer obese.
    And those fat toddlers I see on Maury Povitch, give the parents hefty fines and bring the kid to Happy Liposuction Junction!
    (a reminder that I work in broadcasting and do not watch these shows for pleasure.)

  39. Years ago, I was telling my friends that the health-care-is-paid-for-by-government-so-you-are-beholden-to-federal-requirements-on-your-diet slippery slope situation was going to happen. I’d just like to mention to those who were skeptical:

    Neener, neener, neener.

    If the Feds can do it to the states with highway funds, they can do it to you with health insurance.

  40. Since Krugman and Fumento don’t have the guts to spell out that “something” we should do about fat, let me suggest a suitable market-drive approach:

    1) The government establishes a maximum legal BMI.
    2) Those who exceed the legal maximum must either reduce their weight, or purchase ?overweight? rights from those who are under it.
    3) Every year, the government reduces the maximum legal BMI by 5%.

    Voila! This should set us on the right path to thinness in no time.

  41. I got it! Give the obese sizable tax breaks or support,provided they participate in the running of the bulls!
    Let’s get the fat stormtroppers in there as well.

  42. The truth is the war on smoking has started to work. Economic incentives work and when they taxed smoking, people adjusted their behavior and quit. The problem is that taxing smoking was never about health and always about money. Now that people have actually quit smoking, where are federal and state legislators going to get the money to keep themselves and their good ol’boy friends on the government dole? The answer of course is a new “war on obesity”. They can just tax food.

  43. Why don’t we just cut to the chase and put those with a plus-30 BMI on Carousel?

  44. How ’bout a War on Ignorance. Stiff tariffs on most movies and DVDs, doubly so for DVDs of American Idol. Make some books tax deductible, while the Left Behind series gets a nice fat surcharge. Pokemon. Wrestling. Football. Soap Operas. Infomercial products. Any CD on the top twenty. The Gov’t will be rolling in dough.

    Oh, I forgot that the two party system requires an ignorant populace. Sorry.

  45. BMI: I don’t think the Carousel antigrav field can handle the strain, and all those big-boned bodies make a mess when they explode.
    Overweight runners should be easier to catch, though.

  46. Last message was for Cgee. Sorry.

  47. I wouldn’t support a War On Ignorance. While I like to think that most of my aesthetic interests are relatively highbrow, I still have guilty pleasures that I would not be willing to part with. To wit: I own the first season of “The Simple Life” on DVD. (After just divulging that publicly on this thread, now I’d really be embarrassed to meet any of you in real life).**

    ** Just joking. I regret nothing.

  48. I am assuming that the people who think it perfectly legitimate for the government to get involved in what you put into your body – besides the drugs and the alcohol, which government already regulates – are the same people who find it outrageous if you suggest that the government, or anyone else, might have a say in what you take out of your body – namely, a fetus. The pro-choice argument has always been grounded in the “no one can control my body but me” line. Fine.

    Well, is it my body or isn’t it? Is it only my body, and do I only have sole control of it, if I’m getting an abortion? But I should let others tell me what I can smoke and what I can eat and how much I can weigh?

    I guess the Regulate Everything crowd will argue that abortion affects no one but you and the fetus (which isn’t really a child, unless you’re murdered while pregnant, and then it is and it’s a double tragedy), but second hand smoke and tubby people are a burden on everyone else. But the Tubby People Are Burdensome theory rests on the idea that fat people are an economic drain on taxpayers. Can you make an argument that abortions, which also cost money, and to which poor women have a right, also impose costs on All of Us?

    I’m just trying to figure out how the Regulate Everything crowd can justify regulating what they want to regulate, but allowing what they want to allow, on any grounds other than the Everyone Should Just Live as We Tell Them (But Not as the Scary Christians Tell Them) theory. And yes, then maybe we can try to figure out how the aforementioned Scary Christians can justify their schtick.

    I am not overweight or anti-choice and I can’t get pregnant so I have no dog in this hunt.

  49. It’s OK, smacky. A long time ago I paid to see the Beevis and Butthead movie in theaters. Twice.

    (Strangely enough, I almost never watched the TV show. I’m not saying that to rehabilitate my reputation, but simply as an ironic observation.)

  50. “Since I started smoking, I’ve dropped 20 pounds.”

    You must have seen Troy McClure’s self-help video, “Smoke Yourself Thin.” (Maybe you saw some of his other helpful videos, such as “Get Confident, Stupid!”)

  51. Jeff:

    God’s truth: I worked security one time at a Star Trek convention and, for some strange reason, it turned out to be the easiest gig ever. Somehow I didn’t feel very intimidated, or that myself or my charges were in any real danger.

    Though I have to say that Nimoy up close looks as old as Yoda. He moves as slowly, too.

  52. For some reason, this reminds me something a friend in beijing told me:

    She said the government was putting up cameras (well, more of them) with the specific task of photographing all the fat old dudes who sit around Beijing in their undershirts picking their ears and playing dominoes. The pictures would then be displayed on big electronic billboards around town. The idea was to shame these guys into putting a goddamn shirt on before the Olympics.

  53. Isn’t about time people stopped taking Michael Fumento seriously?

    And shouldn’t someone revoke his libertarian library card?

  54. First they’ll decide that the rights to my body are outweighed by the public good, and the next thing you know, they’ll want to come after my house . . .

  55. Nice Guy: I worked a few myself, as well as attended them.
    A friend once attended a con in Springfield MA which had a lot of Trek actors at it. There were many fans on full regalia. Swords. Blasters. Etc.
    It turned out that Clinton (then president) was giving a rally at a public square two blocks away that afternoon. AT one point all convention attendees were coralled into a ballroom and told by the Secret Service that they were NOT welcomed at the rally, and that anyone found outside the hotel dressed like a Klingon or carrying a sword would be arrested.

    I personally like the image of Clinton touting the benefits of supporting China’s regime while drunken Klingons cheer him on and rattle their Bat’leths.

    I’m off topic. Sorry.

  56. Jeff-

    Having attended a few Cons myself, I would support a regulation that women with more than a certain BMI cannot wear chain mail bikinis.

  57. Jeff and THoreau,

    I can’t stomach sci-fi cons. However, I am really interested in seeing these pics. Perhaps they can be put to use as some sort of public shaming exercise like they are doing in China. Any chance you could put some on your fine website Jeff?

  58. Simple Life? Beavis and Butthead? Ha! You’re practically high-brow snobs?

    Confession of a guilty pleasure: I used to regularly watch the USA channel’s “Up All Night” movies hosted by Gilbert Gottfried and Rhonda Shear. Movies that Gottfried ably described as “showing movies with all the nudity censored out, when the only reason such crappy movies were made in the first place was as an excuse to show nudity.”

    Confession 2: I won’t rip on fat people, being a little stocky myself. (OK … pudgy! I’ll put the rebound exerciser together tonight, I promise!) And I did once know a girl who was substantially more than a little heavy due to a hormone problem, and though that’s not generally my thing, she was still capable of moments of blazing beauty. Although I reserve the right to feel superior to anybody who, in the absence of a mitigating medical condition, has to walk in a very special way in order to get one thigh past the other.

    Jeff: You fit, skinny bastard. Someday a couple of outraged men of size are going to push you right through the slats in a park bench, then stuff you into a crack in the pavement and they’ll never find your body. “Who’s laughing now, wireboy?!”

  59. There must be plenty of con photos on the web.

    And I support projecting images of fat folk on public big screens, preferably with “Baby Elephant Walk” playing in the background. More than that, I think a 24 feed of such shots from around the world should be cable channel.

  60. Stevo-

    I also like Elimidate. How much more trashy can you get?

    My wife likes E!

  61. “Men of Size.” Brilliant. I think there’s an upcoming Playgirl pictorial by that name.

    I don’t care how outraged they are, I’ll hear them coming. The only way I won’t be able to outrun them is if thier chasing me downhill…

  62. Jeff,

    That’s all fine and well, but why should all of the fat-porn lovers get their porn for free, when the rest of us have to pay for ours? (Or resort to free pop up ads and spyware-websites).

    Oh wait, you did say “cable channel”. Never mind.

  63. Gilbert Gottfried is a great comedian.

  64. “The forces of safety are afoot in the land. I, for one, believe it is a conspiracy- a conspiracy of Safety Nazis shouting “Sieg Health” and seeking to trammel freedom, liberty, and large noisy parties. The Safety Nazis advocate gun control, vigorous exercise, and health foods. The result can only be a disarmed, exhausted, and half-starved population ready to acquiesce to dictatorship of some kind.”

    -P.J. O’Rourke

    ‘nuf said.

  65. Have you ever noticed that two really obese people having sex missionary style form the exact shape as a Volkswagen Bug?

    Stevo: Like I said, stocky, pudgy, beefy, and stout are fine. Those are body sizes. My problem is with the truly corpulent, who no longer appear human, to whom pizza crust dipped in Crisco makes a viable snack. Instead of saying they are disabled and expecting the rest of us to accomodate them, I’d have more respect if they admitted thet had a mental problem (which they clearly do) and have themselves committed.

  66. Jeff and I went to a con last weekend and it didn’t look any fatter than normal; in fact, if you ignore the guy in the beige utility kilt and the woman who went everywhere with a puppet on her left hand, you’d’ve almost thought it was a convention of healthy, well-adjusted people.

  67. Follow your dreams. You can meet your goals. I am living proof.

    BEEFCAKE!

  68. Christ, you guys are killing me.

    Great comedic relief for a lame Monday!

  69. Jeff,

    That’s precisely the problem, though. If someone really has a mental problem, do they usually know it? I think not. And I would venture to say that truely, morbidly ( read: will die from their condition ) obese people are mentally not all there. It’s the classic Catch 22. So why the vehement hatred? Sure, they’re awful to look at. But I think plenty of other people look just as awful in other ways (for example, women who wear so much makeup that they suffer from Orangeface.)

    On a different note:

    stocky, pudgy, beefy, and stout

    You forgot “fatty”, “piggy”, and “porky”, the other 3 Chubby Dwarves. πŸ™‚

  70. Lowdog gets the award for post #69 in a geeky thread.

  71. There must be plenty of con photos on the web

    Yes, but one usually has to wade through 100+ photos of furries before you land on the obese stormtrooper and I am just too lazy.

    I did go to a few cons in the early nineties. It looked as much like a KMFDM fan club convention as a sci-fi nerd thing. I guess that’s one of those “You got peanut butter on my chocolate” things.

  72. I was actually going to say that Stocky, Pudgy, Beefy, and Stout was the name of a lawfirm. Dwarves are better.
    The difference with the morbidly obese is that they KNOW they are that big, as they get yet another replacement aluminum arm-clamp crutch from the Rite-Aid because their last one crumpled as they were undulating out of Home Country Buffet. Yet they still expect sympathy. They still expect accomodation.
    Also, some mental problems are brought on by choice, like abject ignorance. Given the ubiquitous outlets for information and education in this country, the only reason for anyone to become twice-as-dumb-as-shit stupid is to decide learnin’s too hard.
    Once again, I’m not talking “not-too-bright,” I mean true idiocy.
    The fat and the stupid. Drive them from civilization with torches.

  73. Another thing that really amused me at Cons (and I’m talking as a card-carrying geek/nerd here) are the so-called “Space Marines”, who line up very serious-like with a Sargent barking orders. Yes, I know it’s all for fun, but the plastic toy guns, the big guts, the thick glasses, and the mops of unkempt hair sorta takes away from the illusion. Just a little.

    And apparently Starfleet doesn’t have a fitness requirement, either.

  74. Mr. Nice Guy-
    The cons Jeff and I go to aren’t like that; they’re for fans of WRITTEN science fiction, so you don’t see people walking around in Starfleet uniforms and arguing over whether Kirk or Picard would win a fight.

    But that’s about the only non-embarrassing thing I can think to say about them. Heh heh heh.

  75. Jennifer:

    Kirk would win.

  76. Of course Kirk would win a fight!

    (Actually Sisko would blow up both thier ships before there even was a fight, but that’s another arguement.)

    Where were we, oh yeah, fatties.

  77. thoreau – sweet!

    I’ve only been to one Con, and I don’t remember any of the RPG or sci-fi stuff that the con was supposed to be about. I do remember drinking a lot of beer and being in bed with my friend and 2 girls. And no, they were not fat.

    Jeff – stop it, you’re cracking me up.

    I’ve got a little too much weight in the ol’ belly region from drinking waaay too much beer (and having my metabolism take a nose-dive after I turned 20 something), but at least I’m in good shape (as in, I can go up a flight of stairs without wheezing) and I’m trying to do something about it. I work out 2+ times a week and play ice hockey. It’s not that hard.

    But I’m lucky in that I’ve always enjoyed sports and competition. What if you have no interest in any of that? Who’s right is it to tell you you aren’t allowed to not exercise and to look however you want? I mean, sure, from an asthetics point of view, everyone should want to look their best. But again, not everyone really cares about their appearance. As a libertarian, I can’t condone coersion.

    But I can point and laugh, as has been suggested! πŸ™‚

  78. Bullshit. Kirk would be too busy overacting and emphasizing every third syllable to have any chance of winning.

  79. I also like Elimidate. How much more trashy can you get?

    You’re excused; you obviously watch for the scads of bitchily competitive babe-age swarming like piranhas around some concrete-brained galoot.

    Personally, I prefer Elimidate’s wittier cousin, Blind Date. I enjoy the pop-ups.

    (If I had time, I would rephrase that.)

  80. Picard would quote Shakespeare while Kirk pummeled him.
    Remember: James West, James Bond and James Kirk all fight the same way: dirty.

  81. Nah, Jennifer. While Picard snapped an order for an Away Team to report to the transporter room, James “Hands On” Kirk would kick his Anglo-phony French ass.

    Whups, I previewed and see that Jeff said essentially the same thing. I’ll back away and let you two go at it.

  82. I’ve learned two things here:

    1) Fat people are worthy of contempt
    2) The government better not do anything about them

  83. Danimal – fuckin’ A! That pretty much sums up libertarian philosophy: certain behaviours are fucked up and should be discouraged, laughed at, and frowned upon, but the government should keep it’s damned noses out of it! πŸ™‚

  84. Sheesh. I come to the bottom to post something to the effect of “this is the number one argument against nationalized health insurance” and see that the discussion has been taken over by the Comic Book Guy.

  85. Fat Fat Fat.

    Fat People should have their own internet.

  86. Lowdog – for the true libertarin philosophy, I must add that the same market that created all the fat people will somehow make them thin again.

  87. Even assuming Kirk didn’t burst a blood vessel from his own noxious overacting, he wouldn’t be able to get within three FEET of Picard because some green alien slut with no taste in men would get in his way, saying “Ooooh, James. . . ignore the federation’s Prime Directive and let me suck on yours!” If not, the man on the wing of the plane would get him for sure.

    Nope, no contest. All Picard’s gotta do is wave his hand and make It So.

  88. True Jennifer, but Shatner’s brilliant version of Pulp’s “Common People” is his secret weapon. Picard couldn’t touch that.

  89. Good point, mk. I forgot about Kirk’s singing. If he started his rendition of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” Picard would run screaming back to the Borg before Kirk even got to the part about “The Girl! With kalei! Doscope eyes!”

  90. By the way, there’s no way I could have ever held my own in this conversation before I started living with Jeff. Damn him.

  91. Krugman’s argument appears to open a slippery slope that (if he were consistent) leads to outlawing other activity he likely feels is “private” – notably homosexual relations.

  92. Picard could always counter the Shat with a cover-to-cover reading of “Little Dorritt” complete with different voices.
    The sheer mind-numbing boredom of that would have to equal a photon torpedo or two.

  93. Modern obesity is largely caused government policies that subsidize unhealthy food production. The government pays billions of dollars to produce meat, milk and corn sweeteners, but it pays nothing to farmers who grow vegetables and fruits. Poor people can buy subsidized calories much more cheaply in the form of fattening foods. Meat and fatty food producers use some of the extra billions of dollars they rake to advertise their wares on television. Children are exposed to thousands of hours of advertisements for unhealthy fast foods and meat in particular, whereas you never see advertisements for apples, spinach or bread. The Bush administration caved in to the special interests and increased these unfair subsidies. As long as government policy is slanted toward unhealthy eating this will be a matter of public policy, and the only solution will be to adjust these policies and give food producers a more level playing field. Perhaps it would be better to remove all subsidies and let the free market decide, but this administration will never do that.

  94. Hey … hey, mister …

    MISTER TAMBOURINNNNNE MANNNNNNNNNNNN!

  95. Fat People should have their own internet.

    World Wiiiiiide Web.

  96. Jed – you’re right. Now I won’t say that advertising is the problem, per se, because I think that even people with marignal intelligence can see through a lot of the bullshit.

    But the point you make about meat and sweeteners being subsidised is very important. I would submit that if the market were truely allowed to exist without these subsidies, people wouldn’t eat as much meat and would eat healthier. I know that pretty much the only reason I eat fast food is because I didn’t make my own and I’m too poor to eat at a nice place.

  97. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a gaggle of fans in beautifully rendered Trek uniforms show up at a Ren Faire and pretend to be an away party stranded on a primitive planet.

  98. Jed and Lowdog are both right, but do you know what sucks? Our government is NOT going to do away with the subsidies that make unhealthy food cheaper than healthy food; they’ll keep the subsidies in place, and then tack a higher sales tax onto the unhealthy food that’s for sale.

  99. Good point, Jennifer. And what the fuck is up with that? Hello! Does that make any fucking sense?

    Oh wait, it does make sense if you follow the money. And Christ, it doesn’t even have to be a conspiracy or particularly shady. It’s simple, ‘lobby A’ gives your campaign a shitload of money, you feel you owe it to them to help them out. Because I’m sure to a lot of politicians, their “constituents” are the people that actually give them money to get (re-)elected.

  100. Lowdog-
    You’re talking about a government that tries to talk people out of smoking AND subsidizes tobacco growers.

  101. This talk of food subsidies and taxes reminds me of something from “America The Book” (by the staff of the Daily Show).

    They profile an Amtrak bureaucrat who’s responsible for coal acquisition. Although Amtrak doesn’t burn coal, according to the book there’s a law requiring Amtrak to purchase coal. (I have no idea if it’s true, since the book is mostly satire, but it wouldn’t shock me.) Once Amtrak has the coal they have to get rid of it, so they sell it to the coal company at a steep discount. This Amtrak bureaucrat is so proud of herself, however, because she’s found a solution to the problem: Next year the coal company won’t even have to deliver it and then return to pick it up when they buy it back. Instead, Amtrak will just send them a check!

  102. Hey, can we use lipo-sucked fat as an eco-fuel, thereby turning obesity into a national natural resource??

    What would be the EROI on that?

  103. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a gaggle of fans in beautifully rendered Trek uniforms show up at a Ren Faire and pretend to be an away party stranded on a primitive planet.

    Jeff, please, please puh-leeeeeeze tell me there’s a website with photos and/or video of this somewhere out there.

  104. I also like Elimidate. How much more trashy can you get?

    Cheaters? The other night, they had a guy who was cheating on his seven-months-pregnant fianc?e with a woman in a wheelchair (both of whom were cover-your-eyes ugly). As they went for the confrontation, they blocked in the guy and his side-tart while a tornado had touched down in the area. Slimy, but awesome to watch.

    Not as much fun as the lesbians of color, who beat the living shit out of each other . . .

  105. Hey, can we use lipo-sucked fat as an eco-fuel, thereby turning obesity into a national natural resource??

    They can have my fat. I welcome our new Nanny Nutritionist overlords, in that case. Just think, liposuction could be standard health procedure, like a school lice check, or donating blood (except you get stitches instead of free pizza after donating).

  106. I’m going to be hanging around a huge comic convention in San Diego next week (playing a concert of symphonic Final Fantasy music). Although ostensibly a comic convention, it looks more like a general sci-fi gathering. I’ll keep an eye out for the fat stormtroopers, but the ones in the video look pretty fit.

  107. I wonder if Krugman ever follows his logic through to the end. His reasoning could be used to declare ANYTHING public rather than private. For example, I can think of countless ways abortions affect other individuals not directly involved. For example, psychological distress on the billions who oppose abortion, or reduced tax generation by the now-aborted fetus. Does that alone make them public? Or even more radically: What if the government decided to claim that every time Krugman spews an ignorant point of view, storing that ignorant point of view costs society money. Therefore, we have the right to restrict, ban, or tax his ‘free’ speech.

    In short, Krugman is using childishly circular reasoning. He is justifying government intrusion into our private lives because previous intrusions now entangle our private lives. It is a bit like a burglar claiming he has the right to change my thermostat to his favorite level, because my decision to set it at 70 clearly now affects him, too. What Krugman needs to understand is that if you meddle with other peoples’ private lives (which any health care scheme is), then you must accept the fact that their private decisions now affect you. That is YOUR choice and YOUR problem, Mr. Krugman.

  108. The type of person that can look at a wealthy nation full of fat people for whom war has basically become a video game and bitch about the de-facto rulers of the planet being fat needs to go embrace a dime bag and some Cheetos before someone snaps and bends them into shapes the human body isn’t capable of — for the children, of course…

    As for the preceding veer into each other’s tastelessness: since when did one’s tastes have to be uniform? I’ve got on the same bookshelf two Thomas Sowell books and Ric Flair’s biography, and I’ve had deep intellectual discussions over bottles of Colt 45 w/ Lil John blaring through the stereo, no one said you couldn’t be smart and lowbrow at once.

  109. Chad, your last four sentences kicked ass.

    I don’t think hardly anyone thinks of it that way, but I believe you are exactly correct.

  110. Another point where Krugman is wrong: He simply laughs off, with no reasoned argument, the very correct point that obesity could be a rational choice.

    I am a formerly fat person. I was obese throughout my childhood and continuing into college. After quit a bit of yo-yo like bouncing, I finally got fit in graduate school. Ironically, due to my weight-lifting and stout build, I still qualify as ‘overweight’ by the BMI standard.

    On to my point. Krugman dismisses the possibility that my obesity was a choice. This is patently false. I regularly think about going back to being fat. There are a myriad of advantages, among them:

    1: Eating what I want, when I want. I am sorry, Mr. Krugman, but I prefer donuts and steak to carrots and steamed chicken breast, and so does just about everyone else.

    2: Not having to exercise. Not only does exercise cost me about 6-7 hours a week (time I could invest in fun activities), but the time I spend exercising is generally my least favorite of day. I want to see Mr. Krugman try to claim there aren’t disincentives for me to wake up at 6am in order to run before the heat and humidity of Japan’s rainy season become dangerous rather than just truly obnoxious.

    3: Warmth. Fat is insulation. I am a native of Michigan, and the winters never bothered me until I became thin.

    4: Swimming. Much harder when you sink.

    In general, there are two benefits to offset this:

    a: Health benefits

    b: More physically attractive

    I would NOT claim anything about ‘feeling better’ or ‘more energetic’. This is only true if I stop exercising. Most of the time, I am less energetic and sore from whatever beating I put myself through the day before. It more or less cancels.

    In short, there are pluses and minuses to being thin, and not everyone is going to make the same choice.

    Also, for you fat-person bashers: While it is true that except for extremely rare disorders, fat people are fat because of choices they make, do not pretend that people have the same biochemistry. I have friends who don’t exercise and live on Doritos, yet are thin as a rail. I am the other way around, flirting with obesity despite hardcore exercise and constant fretting about what I eat. Just because you are thin with little sacrifice does not mean that everyone else can be, too. Some peoples’ bodies require huge efforts to be thin.

  111. Chad:

    Just how interesting do you think the history of your personal fucking body fat is? Jesus Christ, at least Krugman makes his point without going into disgusting personal physical detail. Is wiping your ass easier now that your not fucking fat anymore? Do tell.

  112. Overweight Stormtroopers could be easily handled by the Dorsai Irregulars, or their alter egos, The Klingon Diplomatic Corps.

    Kevin

  113. Chad-
    You’re partially right–certain people are certainly predisposed toward being “stout” and will likely remain so for life unless they contastantly starve themselves, which would be bad for their health; I think what we’re talking about here are people who are all-out FAT. When I was teaching I worked with this loathsome, whiny woman who was so huge she couldn’t walk without crutches, and her elbows and knees were mere dimples inside rolls of dough. And she would insist that she suffered from a hormonal/genetic problem even as she slathered a solid inch of cream cheese on her bagel. AND she’d insist that her problem was our problem; among other things, she expected us to hold our department meetings in her room because god forbid she’d have to drag her fat self to one of ours.

  114. As someone who actually had to have radiation treatments to handle Hyperthyroidism (Awesome disease, if you can catch it Chad), I can vouch for the glandular basis of some people’s physique. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that fat people tend to eat a lot and eat things that are bad for them. So, even with my own personal experience, I choose to take the glandular approach with only a few grains of salt.
    Anyway, I hear you Chad. I’ve been playing indoor soccer as part of my perpetual fight against the fat. It leaves me in a near constant state of brokenness, but it’s one of the only ways of staying fit that I can muster up any excitement for after years of trudging to the gym.

  115. communism will ensure everyone (who deosn’t starve in the famine) loses weight!

  116. A great quote on this topic comes from an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: “When facism arrives in America, it will be wearing a white coat and stethoscope”.

  117. Jeff-

    Thanks. That’s awesome.

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