Sunday, December 01, 2013
The disease of ‘public health’
An abridged list of policies that have been proposed in the name of ‘public health’ in recent months includes: minimum pricing for alcohol, plain packaging for tobacco, a 20 per cent tax on fizzy drinks, a fat tax, a sugar tax, a fine for not being a member of a gym, graphic warnings on bottles of alcohol, a tax on some foods, subsidies on other foods, a ban on the sale of hot food to children before 5pm, a ban on anyone born after the year 2000 ever buying tobacco, a ban on multi-bag packs of crisps, a ban on packed lunches, a complete ban on alcohol advertising, a ban on electronic cigarettes, a ban on menthol cigarettes, a ban on large servings of fizzy drinks, a ban on parents taking their kids to school by car, and a ban on advertising any product whatsoever to children.
Doubtless many of the proponents of these policies identify themselves as ‘liberals’. We must hope they never lurch towards authoritarianism.....
The issue of risk should also be viewed from the right end of the telescope. In a society in which almost everybody willingly puts themselves at risk, those who attempt to lead lives of ascetic self-denial should be regarded as curious outliers. They have every right to pursue extreme longevity if that is their wish, but they have no right to bully and cajole those of us who prefer the good life into emulating them. Whether they are well-intentioned do-gooders, sly charlatans or malevolent bigots, they must be tolerated in a civilised society, but they do not have to be suffered gladly and they should never be given the reins of power. It is time to denormalise the demagogues of ‘public health’.
My belief is that it is not that we live in a society that particularly believes in puritanism or totalitarianism or is particularly cowardly but that it is caused by the need of empire building bureaucracy to find something more for government to do or regulate. Unfortunately while welfare needs are now small compared to national gdp and even welfarists desires are only substantial the amount to be spent on regulating unquantifiable "risks" is infinite. I have tried to say this in my comment on the article:
" An interesting article. Christopher turns over a rock exposing a number of current political parasitism issues.
Programmes like these have no failure (or success) standards. They are thus ideal if "the purpose of government programmes is to pay government employees and their friends, the nominal purpose is secondary, at best" - Pournelle. With no failure standards such programmes may be expanded without limit.
That it gives gainful employment to hordes of congenitally fascistic busybodies is, from the standpoint of bureaucratic empire builders, including politicians, a bonus.
The adoption of the term "public health" is itself interesting. In the 19thC genuine public health - epidemic disease hitting rich and poor alike in newly created mass urban living, was a major cause of the rise of socialism. Preventing the poor going down with typhus was sensible self interest for the rich. The conquest of epidemics is being followed by the disappearance of ideological socialism (there are other reasons but this is 1).
The misuse of the term "epidemic" he refers to is also typical of modern political corruption.
Even on "failure standards" these programmes are failing. The NHS is spending £5 bn a year on morbid obesity (eg 30 stoners who need their walls knocked down so they can be carried to hospital) so "anti-obesity campaigns" are clearly not working (this is not a call for more to be spent on having a more expensive failure).
Moreover if longevity is the result it is inexplicable that more money is being spent on each of the symptoms than on research into slowing, stopping or reversing aging despite numbers of lines of inquiry.
If the purpose is merely to pay and empower politically active fascist idiots the present system could not have been better designed.
If it had been to maximise lifespan or happiness no element of it would have been produced."