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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Unintended Consequences

Mississippi legislators have proposed legislation that forbids restaurants and food establishments from serving food to anyone who is overweight, and they are proposing H.B. 282 to define obesity.

Let me first say that I oppose any legislation that bars people deemed overweight from any restaurant. Furthermore, I can't imagine that restauranteurs are very happy with being told who they can and cannot server.

However, I can see how such laws may soon become commonplace, especially if this country ever decided to institute government mandated universal health care. If the universal model evolves as the Canadian and European model has, then such bans and regulations are going to be the norm. Just witness the latest move in Scotland to simply deny medical services.

The fact is that there is an inherent scarcity in these services, and if the government is going to fund them, the government will eventually also look for ways to remediate the use (or abuse) of them. One such way is how Scotland has reacted. Another way is to limit self-abusive behavior that will lead to reliance on medical services.

That is to say, if obese people (as determined by the government) are banned from overeating, and consuming unhealthy foods (also determined by the government), then surely those same people will be forced to eat healthier, and that will save the national health care system millions of dollars. Or, so the logic will go.

This is what is called an unintended consequence. The government will eventually force people to live "healthier" in order to discourage them from consuming a scarce resource (public mandatory health care). Surely, this is not the model we want to pursue in America.

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.: posted by Dave 10:25 PM

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