In the 1980s, the Judge Dredd strip in 2000AD ran a series of stories about the League of Fatties – people so grotesquely obese that they could only waddle around with the help of a trundle wheel supporting their enormous bellies. Back then, in our innocence, we thought it was dystopian satire…
If you haven't yet read Max Pemberton's Spectator cover story Obesity Is Not A Disease I urge you to do so. It describes a social problem of quite grotesque, wobble-jowled, saggy-bottomed enormousness: the vast sums of money – £5 billion a year – being funnelled from our pockets in order to pay for the extra healthcare costs of the clinically obese.
And we're not just talking pleasingly rotund, or "carrying a little bit of weight girls", here.
Take the East Midlands Ambulance Service. It emerged this week that it has been picking up so many fat patients — weighing in excess of the 28-stone maximum — that it needs a new fleet. It has, hitherto, been struggling along with just one ambulance for fatties (a ‘bariatric’ vehicle), but now thinks all 272 of its ambulances need to be upgraded with double-wide stretchers for patients who (it says) can weigh in at 55 stone. The plan will cost £27 million......Here's how that process of cause and effect should work with obesity: you eat too much, you get fat; your food bills rise to accommodate your expanding girth; so too does the cost of your health insurance, both to cover the extra cost of your "bariatric" specialist treatment and also because you are that much more likely than a thinner, fitter person to require medical care; also, people will hate sitting next to you on aeroplanes, only fellow fatties (or the odd thin person, maybe, with a bear fetish) will want to have sex with you, you will probably smell more and die younger. In a free country you will, of course, remain as free to get as fat as you like. But there will be consequences for your actions in the form of mild social opprobrium, increased financial penalties and so on. Thus, without any meddling or hectoring or needless expenditure from the Nanny State, fat people will be encouraged to get thinner because they will find it in their best interests to do so.
What our current socialised healthcare system does, unfortunately, is to remove this vital connection between cause and effect. Not only are the obese cushioned from the financial consequences of their wanton self-indulgence but they inhabit a culture so in thrall to the idea of victimhood, so fearful of "judgementalism" and so wary of causing offence that it doesn't even dare hint that there might be a problem with being fat.
This cannot end happily. It won't end happily. When future historians come to survey what it was we did wrong before the Great Collapse, one of the details that will tickle them to the point of incredulity is this: that with Britain's national debt fast approaching 100 per cent of GDP, and with the NHS approaching breaking point, it was yet considered good practice for the state to spend £5 billion a year it hadn't got – not to build a new airport or finance a nuclear power station but simply to enable millions of fat people to go on enjoying their apparently unalienable right to stuff their lardy faces at Greggs and McDonald's."
The solution is obviously not eating. Somebody who is bedridden by being 55 stone is clearly being fed by somebody else.
The libertarian answer would be to let them choose to give up or die and would work one way or another.
The authoritarian one is to arrest the feeder for abuse. Perhaps also fitting them with an electronic collar that would give a small shock any time they swallowed more than a set amount. That would work & keep them alive.
This is an example of how wealthy we are as a society & how when nothing else can harm us, we have become a self-harming society. This is a fact via Tim Worstall which I have waited for an excuse to use and this is certainly it:
"In 1870 the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would have bought him (not her: women were paid less) about 5,000 calories worth of human, not horse food: not oats (although Scotsmen would disagree) but bread--5,000 wheat calories, about 2½ times what you need to live (if you are willing to have your teeth fall out and your nutritionist glower at you). In 1800 the daily wages would have bought him about 3,500 calories, and in 1600 2,500 calories. Karl Marx in 1850 was dumbfounded at the pace of the economic transition he saw around him. That was the transition that carried wages from 3500 calories per day-equivalent in 1800 to 5000 in 1870. Continue that for another two seventy-year periods, and we would today be at 10,000 calories per unskilled worker in the North Atlantic today per day. Today the daily wages of an unskilled worker in London would buy him or her 2,400,000 wheat human-food--potato--calories. Not 10,000. 2,400,000. That is the most important fact to grasp about the world economy of 1870. The economy then belonged, even for the richest countries, much more to its past of the Middle Ages than to its future of--well, of you reading this."