Friday, July 8

Uh-oh. Normally sober-minded economist and NYTimes (login:opensewer; password:iswatching) columnist Paul Krugman is getting on the obesity / "let's regulate eating and food" bandwagon. Specifically, he is making the case that your own diet and your "bad" eating habbits are the government's problems. It's a weak argument he's presenting, but it's an argument for "doing something," which usually gets politicians and activists excited. The problem is, what can we do? Increase health education? OK. But will that be considered enough? I doubt it will be for the activists, and the politicians the activists will pressure. Any taxes on food itself will fail to distinguish between those who eat "bad" food in healthy moderation from those who become obese from simply eating too much food (which may have been healthy in smaller amounts).
The strongest argument in favor of government intervention I have heard is that the rising costs of obesity create costs that our entire nation has to deal with through the health care system. However, the idea that this systemic connection might be re-evaluated is usually not considered; what is considered more readily is intervention and control over the production and eating liberties we enjoy currently.
Krugman also references and advances an argument that "at least some food consumption is almost certainly not rational." So what, Paul? The same might be said of drinking whiskey, sports, social pursuits, and even religion. Don't we reserve to adults the right to make choices that appear irrational to others?