We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Look around any developed country and it is obvious that there are a lot of people who eat too much. But there is another affliction of modern societies that too often gets overlooked: the greed for attention. If members of the Lancet Commission on Obesity had a taste for food as great as their appetite for hyperbole, their bellies would prevent them getting near a dinner table.”

Ross Clark, Daily Telegraph, 29 January (£).

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    When I asked why an online interlocutor couldn’t just eat what he wanted and leave everyone else alone, he replied: “Because I work in healthcare and it’s where my belief in individual autonomy runs up against the taxpayer having to pay for the poor choices of others.”

    Oh dear.

  • Mr Ecks

    Then abolish the crappy NHS double-quick.

    Good for Ross Clark–not often a journalist has the balls to call out scum for the scum they are.

  • John B

    When I was a child, there were a lot of people who ate too little because food was more expensive and more families poor.

    Society is not Goldilocks and The Three Bears – this amount of food too much, this amount too little, this just right.

    There is no way in a free society that it can be guaranteed that everyone will eat the amount that is just right. If the result of everyone getting enough to eat is some eat too much, so be it.

  • Mr Ed

    Rob F:

    “Because I work in healthcare and it’s where my belief in individual autonomy runs up against the taxpayer having to pay for the poor choices of others.”

    Schoolkids often mock fatties, that’s life. Did you ask your interlocutor what was wrong with saying, where applicable ‘You’re a fat bastard, it’s your own fault, you sort it out.’?

    What’s wrong with people being responsible for their actions, barring actual mental incapacity?

  • “Because I work in healthcare and it’s where my belief in individual autonomy runs up against the taxpayer having to pay for the poor choices of others.”

    No problem then. As private insurance is voided if you don’t meet its conditions, so the NHS can shorten its waiting lists by removing whoever’s lifestyle does not meet NHS requirements. Of course, some arrangement for remitting the NHS-funding part of their taxes in that case should likewise be made. So I suspect Rob need hardly bother even trying it out on the PC commenter he quotes.

    Alas, this would increase the choices available to the common people instead of diminishing them and, as Thomas Sowell points out, if a plan for helping the poor and unfortunate is to win PC approval, it must claim to do so by reducing the choices available to them, not increasing them.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What was your reply?

  • Runcie Balspune

    “Because I work in healthcare and it’s where my belief in individual autonomy runs up against the taxpayer having to pay for the poor choices of others.”

    And what about those who do not make “poor choices” ?

    Eating sugar is not a poor choice, eating too much sugar is a poor choice, but both groups are penalized by healthcare concerns over sugar consumption, a.k.a. the “sugar tax”.

    What he really means the _potential_ poor choices of others, i.e. everybody, because we can all _potentially_ make poor choices, we may all potentially eat too much sugar one day, and we should all be penalized for it.

    In the NHS world it is a minority report, we are all guilty, damned by the pre-cogs.

    As libertarians we can agree that others should not fund your poor choices, but how this is done in reality is that no-one has “individual autonomy”, that is where the disagreement lies.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . the NHS can shorten its waiting lists by removing whoever’s lifestyle does not meet NHS requirements.”

    Isn’t that the plan?

    “Do Not Resuscitate” orders on anyone with a Hate Speech conviction.”

    “Eat meat? No cancer treatments.”

    “Stoic males need no anesthesia.”

    The possibility for savings is endless.

  • Ellen

    I’ll take a California cheeseburger with bacon, please, and a side of onion rings.

  • pete

    I can’t see anything wrong with taxpayers pointing out the dangers of obesity in a country where the taxpayer will have to pay for its effects.

    In such circumstance obesity is a public matter, not a private one.

    No taxation without representation, from members of the Lancet Commission or anyone else.

  • Mr Ecks

    “In such circumstance obesity is a public matter, not a private one.”

    Absolute wicked cockrot. They can stuff their fucking NHS and I’ll take the consequences of my health choices and get private help should I need it. And likely do FAR better than under the “care” of a socialist death squad.

  • bobby b

    pete
    January 31, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    “I can’t see anything wrong with taxpayers pointing out the dangers of obesity in a country where the taxpayer will have to pay for its effects.”

    What’s wrong is that the taxpayers will have to pay for its effects.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “There is no way in a free society that it can be guaranteed that everyone will eat the amount that is just right.”

    Actually, virtually everybody does.

    The average UK man eats about 3,100 kcal/day, which is roughly equivalent to a pound of fat. Over the 40 years between age 20 and age 60 (an adult lifetime) he eats the equivalent of about 40 x 365 = 14,600 pounds of fat. Suppose he ate 1% more energy than he expended. He would gain 146 pounds or about 10 stone over a lifetime. Most people gain considerably less. Therefore in the long run the amount eaten is within 1% of the amount burnt for pretty much everyone. Given that the Calorie content of foods can vary by about 10% from the value marked on the packet, it’s not possible to be this accurate even by Calorie-counting, let alone by random accident.

    On the other hand, the spread in the amount eaten in the male population is from 2,000 to 5,000 kcal/day, which is a variation of about 150% either way, and weight is poorly correlated with Calories eaten. There are many slim people who eat far more than 3,100, and many fat ones who eat far less. If people eat as much as they burn, their weight stays constant – whether that’s fat or thin.

    Nor is it simply that as you get fatter you burn more until you balance your intake. Many older people may be aware of how when they were young and slim they seemed to be able to eat whatever they wanted and not put on weight. As they get older, they find they have to eat far less than they used to, while being actually heavier than they were.

    Another interesting and possibly related observation – at the same time people have been getting heavier, they have also been getting taller. Over the past 150 years Westerners have increased in height by about 10 cm. This is generally believed to be due to improved nutrition.

    Every other essential biological parameter is controlled by a sophisticated feedback control system – it’s called ‘homeostasis’. Whether it’s core body temperature, or blood pH, or oxygen level, there are bounds set and mechanisms to speed things up or slow things down if they’re crossed. The body’s energy storage system is exactly the same. There are levels set by your biochemistry for fat storage, and systems in place to keep you within those lines. We’ve got the causality the wrong way round. It’s not that you’re fat because you eat too much, it’s that you eat too much because your body is intended to be fat.

    “I can’t see anything wrong with taxpayers pointing out the dangers of obesity in a country where the taxpayer will have to pay for its effects. In such circumstance obesity is a public matter, not a private one.”

    That’s a useful technique. The government promises to spend taxpayer’s money if people do X, which gives the government the right to stop them doing X in the name of the public interest. You can substitute anything you like for X, and any freedom can be taken away.

    No, if you choose to pay, that’s your responsibility. Over themselves, the individual is sovereign.

  • Chester Draws

    I can’t see anything wrong with taxpayers pointing out the dangers of obesity in a country where the taxpayer will have to pay for its effects.

    If they stuck to “pointing out”, then we’d let them be. But they don’t want to “point out”, they want to limit my free choice.

    We don’t ban or limit a very long list of dangerous things that people choose to do : ride horses, skydive, have unprotected sex with strangers, play contact sport, fix their roofs, drive long distances for holidays etc. In fact we even sponsor or subsidise people in contact sports.

    But one thing we do that apparently is worth limiting is eating sugar. Why that one thing, when there are much more dangerous things permitted?

    And worst of all, it isn’t effective. We’ll all have our choices limited by policies that will achieve nothing. Except allow some people to signal their very strong virtue, of course.

  • Flubber

    The medical profession has a massive concentration of Bansturbators with god complexes.

  • bobby b

    Flubber, my doctor friend tells me that God has a doctor complex.

  • Tim the Coder

    In the NHS view, your body is property of the state and they are entitled to ensure you look after it properly.
    Be grateful they don’t charge you rent.

    This, more than any reason of bureaucratic (in)competence is why the NHS is a Bad Idea.

  • Eric

    When I asked why an online interlocutor couldn’t just eat what he wanted and leave everyone else alone, he replied: “Because I work in healthcare and it’s where my belief in individual autonomy runs up against the taxpayer having to pay for the poor choices of others.”

    There’s no end to this road. Let’s say they force everyone to eat tofu and sprouts. Next it will be smokers and drinkers. Then it will be people who don’t exercise enough. Or sleep enough. Why don’t you just stay home when you’re not engaging in taxable behavior? The world is a dangerous place, and you’re costing the rest of us money.

  • Kevin B

    As my age advances many ‘health professionals’ would say I’m becoming more and more a ‘cost to the NHS’. Of course, this is a complete reversal of the actual facts of the matter.

    The health professionals are the cost to the NHS. They’re the ones who get their salaries, pensions, holidays etc. from the NHS. I’m the one who has paid into the inefficient behemoth all my life through National Insurance, Employer’s NI and tax. And I’m still paying tax. (And note that word insurance).

    Now many of the people who take their wages from the NHS are endeavouring to do a half decent job, (though the NHS is like many large enterprises in that it is run for the benefit of the staff rather than the customers), but the likes of PHE with their six figure salaries pontificating about my lifestyle and attempting to force me onto starvation rations are the true drain on the NHS resources.

    So PHE, stop trying to treat sick people by forcing well people to change their lives. Get a proper job, or if you must stay a burden on the taxpayer, at least treat the ill people, (and obese people are ill), rather than trying to change the world at our expense.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    In the NHS view, your body is property of the state and they are entitled to ensure you look after it properly.
    Be grateful they don’t charge you rent.

    Samizdata quote of the day candidate.

  • Duncan S

    In the NHS view, your body is property of the state and they are entitled to ensure you look after it properly.

    Not just the view of the NHS: In Wales your body already belongs to the state and coming soon to Scotland.

  • Mr Ed

    Duncan S,

    Indeed, your organs are there to be harvested. And if you need a little ‘nudge’ in the right direction (the organs must be fresh, you realise?), there won’t be any ‘hasteners’ hanging around to give you a push in the right direction so that transplant statistics can be kept up, perish the patient, er… the thought.

  • Pat

    But the lifetime healthcare costs for the obese are lower than those for the non obese.
    If the concern is genuinely for the taxpayer then everyone should be encouraged to eat more. It may well not be good for the individuals who make that choice, but the taxpayer has no reason to complain.
    It would be interesting to hear those complaining that obesity and indeed smoking cost the NHS money commit to a reduction in NHS spending in the event of a reduction in those activities.

  • Runcie Balspune

    there won’t be any ‘hasteners’ hanging around to give you a push in the right direction so that transplant statistics can be kept up

    Great idea for a film, though

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