Friday, July 22, 2005


This blog is just a design sandbox. The actual blog can be found here.

Monday, July 19, 2004


You'll find it here soon:

Obese Medicare and Fatheaded Politicians
By Edward Hudgins

In the mid-1990s I used to argue against the war on tobacco as follows: Supposedly 400,000 individuals die each year because of smoking. (It's closer to200,000; the government fakes the numbers, but that's another story.) Since governments pick up many of the health-care costs of people who are sick from smoking, governments claim the right to wage a war on tobacco. But nearly as many individuals allegedly die from bad diets and lack of exercise. By this logic, it will only be a matter of time before you're limited to two Big Macs per month, potato chips are kept behind the counter and not sold to anyone under 18, and there's a five-day waiting period to buy Twinkies so government bureaucrats can check your medical records.

My reductio ad absurbum is one step closer to surrealist reality, thanks to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson who has now defined obesity under Medicare as a "disease." Thompson is on a jihad against extra pounds and expanding waistlines in this country. This change in the Medicare rules undermines freedom on four fronts.

First, lots of Americans have unhealthy eating habits. But obesity is not a"disease"; it is the result of poor choices and habits over which individuals have control. Yes, some might be more prone to binge on chips, chocolate or other tasty treats, but the difference between we humans and dumb animals is that we can control our appetites; we can develop the good habits and practices necessary to live healthy lives. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that we are not in control of ourselves and are not responsible for our actions and thus undeserving of freedom.

Second, by classifying obesity as a disease, Thompson has created a new, multi-billion-dollar government entitlement, without congressional approval, that will bloat an already monstrously obese Medicare program. Let's remember that when Medicare was created in 1965 the federal government estimated that it would cost $9 billion per year by 1990; instead it cost more than $66 billion that year. Today it costs about $275 billion with another $160 billion going toMedicaid to provide health care for the poor. And let's remember that in 2003,when the Bush administration proposed its new Medicare prescription drug benefit, it estimated the cost over the first decade at $400 billion. The ink of the president's signature on the legislation was barely dry when the administration announced that, oops, it had miscalculated; the cost would actually be $534 billion.

Third, this new entitlement removes a principal and powerful incentive for individuals to treat their bodies in a responsible manner. If individuals believe the government - read, their fellow taxpayers -- will pick up the tab for their poor dietary choices, paying for their Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig,their stomach-stapling surgery or clogged artery treatments, they will be less likely to take their health into their own hands.

Fourth, aggressive government diet controls cannot be far behind. With government paying the bill comes government control. As Medicare costs rose in past decades, the feds tried to save money by creating and forcing people intoHealth Maintenance Organizations that provide poor service, thus harming health.They also fine and even jail doctors for paperwork mistakes in Medicare filings, which are impossible to avoid because of the thousands of pages of incomprehensible Medicare regulations, thus driving many doctors, sick of being persecuted for curing patients, into early retirement.

We now can expect the food fascists in this country -- those who want to restrict or ban foods of which they don't approve -- to join with the government- the guys with the guns - to make sure you only eat what they want you to eat.

Obesity and poor health habits are certainly problems in this country. But the solution lies in true personal responsibility, a sense that one's life is soimportant and of such value that one would commit moral treason to one's self byallowing one's body to fall into disrepair.

A greater threat to the health of our country is the obese size of government,with Medicare the overweight poster child that illustrates the danger to theheart of our liberties. Our biggest problem is not with fat in our waistlines but, rather, in the heads of politicians who want to micromanage our lives. The lesson of HHS's classification of obesity as a "disease" is that the government should go on a diet, shedding hundreds of billions in needless spending,starting with the entire Medicare program.
The Objectivist Center is a national not-for-profit think tank promoting the values of reason, individualism, freedom and achievement in American culture.For more information, please visit To unsubscribe tothis list, or to subscribe to the Center's Web Update List, please visit

He says everything I'd say, so act accordingly.


I finally got around to reinstalling the window air conditioner so we won't waste so much money and energy running the central air. Baby-sat, but the baby was sleeping and Rosie was constructing new worlds in (on?) Zoo Tycoon. (I think she's gotten past unleashing man-eating beasts on the guests.) So that basically meant that I watched golf on TV. And the Olympic Swimming trials. Looks like we'll have a heck of a good team this year. The Aussie's are tough, though.

I was going to watch the track and field trials, but I went out and worked on the hedge instead (the wife was back). I had to get outside, it's such a beautiful day. The other day I did a bunch of yardwork with Aliina in a backpack. She really likes that. She sits back their and pulls on my stubbly hair and sings in her little baby way.

I was a shotputter (mediocre, but I won a few ribbons) in highschool. When I started running for exercise, I discovered that I'm actually pretty fast when I try to be, so I missed an opportunity there. A couple times as a blocker in football I ran down defensive backs, but you have to watch it when you do that that you don't clip 'em. Tough to make a good block in those circumstances. I sort of specialized in backside blocking, which, if you don't know, means that when the play was going to the left - I was the right guard - I had to take out anybody going for the ball from the right. If I didn't take out three guys I was disappointed. We had a lot of long runs to the left.

Wow, that's gotta be dull for non-football fans. Or most fans, because very few people give a rat's behind about the intricacies of offensive line play. I, personally, could care less about what's going on with the ball. Unless it crossed the goal line because of me.

I am, fortunately or un, my brother's brother. But we try not to afflict the world with reminiscences of our glory days too often.


[Have I really had that much to say? 116,000+ words, according to my Blogger profile, say that I have.]

Stupid stats knocked me off my train of thought, if that's not a mixed metaphor. If it's not a mixed metaphor, then I'm still on the train. Not on train therefore not mixed metaphor. I wonder if one of my premises is wrong.

Reading my comments led me, via FukiBlog, to a Julian Sanchez review of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, by David Callahan, New York: Harcourt, 304 pages, $26

I have a slightly different point to make, based on this passage:

Sometime in the late ’70s, according to Callahan’s narrative, a nefarious cabal of "laissez faire ideologues" began remaking American law and culture along Social Darwinist lines. The ever-increasing disparity between the jackpot rewards for a few winners at the top and the more modest returns to the average professional, as well as managerial pressure on employees to be more productive, increased the incentive to cut corners to get ahead, even as the steely-eyed government watchdogs who had long held cheating in check were declawed. The cheaters soon reached a critical mass, creating a sense that "everyone is doing it," that cheating is positively necessary just to keep up, and eroding the social and professional norms that had hitherto made the average person reluctant to defraud clients and colleagues. Hence the "epidemic" of cheating we see today.

There’s probably something to this argument. It certainly will be part of any correct account of why people cheat.

[I did something right this time, format-wise. I wish I knew what.]

Social Darwinism - actually, I don't intend to defend whatever that is, but I will defend the social philosophy of Herbert Spencer which is accused of being that. Spencerian social LaMarckism would hold that the next generation is capable of learning from the experiences of its predecessors and that cheating is not a sure-fire path to success. Even if current social attitudes allow it. The cheating culture will be swallowed by one that values honesty and hard (and smart) work because that is what Nature requires: adherence to her rules, especially those that engender trust and cooperation among human beings.

My father-in-law, a typical Minnesota DFLer (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party - our Democrats) has a saying he coined for his own use - and it goes a long way toward explaining his own success as an office manager and professional investor: Be kind and do good work. It's the Secret of Life, ladies and gentlemen. Go ye and do likewise.
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