Universal Healthcare is not automatically fat-friendly

As one individual in the UK put it, commenting on the recent article by Marianne Kirby from the Rotund:

Given that we’re obliged to contribute to a universal health provider, there is a legitimate public interest in criticising avoidable behaviour which increases the burden upon it, whether that be over-eating, lack of exercise, or substance abuse.

If the time comes when it is possible to opt out of contributing to that system (rather than merely consuming it), and choosing one that rejects the wilfully unhealthy, that legitimate public interest will no longer exist.

Now, please look at this more closely. The junk science the UK citizens are fed gives them even more reason to legislate thinness. Why, oh why, does anyone believe junk science would magically “go away” with universal healthcare? You’re still going to get outsourced groups writing the medical guidelines, and they’re still going to claim that fat raises risks in all cases, and they’re still going to recommend that fat people need to be eradicated.

Excuse me, but I’m already hated enough for my body in the USA. I don’t need a “legitimate public interest” in it, too.

I’m bad at being succinct…

…but thank the Lords of Kobol there is someone out there who is brilliantly succinct:

[SP is] (Mostly) educated white middle class women in hot competition to see who can flagellate themselves with their various privileges the hardest and/or fastest to prove how right-on they are. So help me, if I hear one more word about fucking knapsacks I swear I will deck somebody.

gives anonymous poster a standing ovation

I have something to add, however — not only self-flagellating, but painfully condescending as they deign to enlighten the crowd with kindergarten knowledge about how people who are “different” than whatever the accepted norm is can be often ostracized or treated differently. Pass the juice, and get off my carpet square. Oh yeah, and getcher hands out of my knapsack!

Do these individuals, who have hijacked the term “Progressive,” honestly believe they’re liberal, compassionate, broad-minded human beings, as they hand out the Scarlet Letters to anyone who has legitimate (and there are many) differences of political opinion, at the same time engaging in blatant populism, encouraging their sycophantic followers to rip apart anyone who dares to disagree with a syllable or two of their dogma?

Lol, ur doin it rong!

Big dogs, and watchdogs, or: diversity makes us strong.

Hits count for a lot on the old internetz, but brother, they don’t count for everything. There’s something to be said for remaining critical and objective, but it’s not a trench in which to hide your biases while you fire at others. You’d think there’d be a low-tolerance for Baloney in the Fatosphere — I mean, we’re constantly getting the line, “Diets don’t work, but ~+~lifestyle changes~+~ do!” but apparently not.

Hit counts expose you in good and bad ways. And we all flub — maybe we don’t think about a particular political sect’s potential protests to that which we link, and perhaps we’re thinking one thing when we link and someone else is thinking an entirely different thing when they read that to which we linked.

No one is perfect. Especially not those who attempt to rip down a monolith with one out-of-context swipe. Constantly trying to find the keystone, those who desire to fell the monolith probe and pull, probe and pull. Finding a loose stone, they yank feverishly and, most of the time, are left with a heavy stone crushing them to the ground, the monolith still standing soundly.

It takes a lot of energy, that kind of hate, that kind of focus. Energy better directed where it can do the best good — like myth-busting the fat-haters — than trying (badly, and largely in vain) to paint another fellow blogger in the movement to be some evil word (fill in the blank. This word was: racist. We know that’s a loaded one around here. )

Here are some good posts which deal with the aftermath of this most recent in(fought?) hullaballo:

1. Shocking revelations about the Fatosphere (by Lindsay)

2. The Fatosphere is not a Hive Mind (by goodbyemyboy)

3. In a World Gone Mad (by Limor)

and a response — with a neat recent real-world example! — to the *real* issue at hand, which is the fight between those in the Fatosphere who support universal healthcare, and those who do not.

4. Taking a step back and thinking about the real story (by Sandy)

Healthcare decisions will no longer be those for individuals and their personal healthcare providers to make. Workers found to have high BMIs, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, or blood pressures will be required to enroll into wellness programs with their integrated disease management, along with weight loss targeting those with BMIs ≥35, and be given one year to improve, or be penalized $25/month. Those who are thin and have approved numbers will be exempt.

Diets aren’t ~+~lifestyle choices~+~, and government dictation is not the common good. Capisce?*

* An’ that ain’t racist, cuz I’m Italian. And you know what? It wouldn’t be if I weren’t.

Welcome Babblebits, Coffee Catholic, and FA 101 to the Fat Liberation feed!

Hi all,

I just wanted to introduce someone most of you know — Lindsay and her wonderful Babblebits blog — and someone you likely don’t, Coffee Catholic at Ave Maria Gratia Plena — to the Fat Liberation feed!

In the spirit of including more political voices less in line with Fatosphere voices (and because she writes wonderfully), I made the decision to put on Ave Maria Gratia Plena. Coffee Catholic’s blog is a mixture of fat liberation and Catholic issues, as all our blogs are fair mixtures of fat liberation and other issues. In the Fat Liberation feed “manifesto,” I make the important point that people who talk about issues other than fat liberation, especially politically charged issues, shouldn’t be excluded.

Also, of course, extend a warm welcome to Lindsay at Babblebits! Lindsay is a long time commenter on this blog and other fat liberation blogs, and should have been added sooner (I dropped the ball on that one). She also has a Fatosphere search engine, and a FA 101 blog, which has also been added to the Fat Liberation feed.

Art, and a Search Engine

I’m into graphic art using Photoshop, and I’m especially into finding the beauty in every-day people, especially those who aren’t considered conventionally attractive (like, for instance, fat people). Here are a few recent works of mine I hope you enjoy. You are free to use these in any way you like, as long as you credit me, of course. 😉

Also, there’s a Fatosphere search engine hosted by Lindsay at BabbleBits I wasn’t previously aware of. It makes citing sources, and answering arguments, much easier! Please use it liberally. I’ll also link to it in the sidebar.

I know this is cross-posting, but it’s worth it.

Here’s richie79‘s reply in this the thread “The Fat Police Are Coming” over at BigFatBlog.com:

They want a nation full of thin people who eat salads and drink water.

You know what though? I actually wonder sometimes whether they do (want everyone to be thin, that is). Sure, that’s what they CLAIM to be fighting for. But if they were, surely they’d have more regard for what works (ie leaving people alone and letting them live their lives free from the anxiety generated by heavy-handed attempts to influence the average body size of entire populations)?

As you point out the Government are throwing around huge amounts (our) of money in the form of donations to pressure groups and research grants for obesity researchers. In the last few years a huge, self-sustaining industry has sprung up on the back of this with the purpose of launching obesity campaigns, generating obesity research, writing stories and making TV shows about the obesity epidemic. And as such, if there *were* no obesity epidemic, say, because new research was discovered that dismissed it, or the figures that showed that measured child obesity (for what that’s worth) had stopped rising and that life expectancy was actually increasing proportionally to average BMI were properly publicised and taken seriously, or for that matter, all their miracle interventions worked and fat people were somehow abolished or outlawed (shudder) there would be a heck of a lot of people clearing their desks.

Or perhaps not. A poster on a BBC messageboard I frequent suggested that many of today’s obesity crusaders may possibly have been anti-smoking zealots in a previous incarnation. Most of these public health types believe that the war against smoking is close to being won, with blanket bans in much of Europe and various US cities having had a dramatic effect on the numbers taking up the habit. The number of stories about smokers and smoking has rapidly dropped to the extent that one barely hears it mentioned in the Health sections of newspapers nowadays. Where anti-smoking posters once hung in GP surgeries, now they’re all about BMI, waist measurements and Type II diabetes. And it’s interesting to note how the war on obesity seemed to really get going at around the same time as smoking stopped being regarded as the number one public health issue.

Obesity is even better from Big Nanny’s perspective, because it gives them opportunities for the control of the individual that smoking did not. Did you ever hear of local authority ‘smoking police’ coming into peoples homes and demanding to know whether the parents smoked, or children being removed from homes because either they or their parents smoked? Certainly the groups of 11 and 12 year-olds who used to puff themselves silly outside my secondary school didn’t seem to be living in fear of a knock on the door from the gubmint.

Whilst they’ll all move onto something else eventually (probably alcohol; prohibition will be tried, and fail, all over again – maybe we Brits will even flirt with it this time) in the meantime they’ll be sure to milk this one for all they can, and doing so depends largely on generating as much hysteria as possible through exaggeration, hyperbole, dubious research and statistics coupled with the simultaneous suppression of any research or statistics which undermine their crusade in order to skew or close down the debate.

Trouble is, so far it’s working a treat, and the damage being caused is little short of catastrophic and possibly irreversible.

Richie, you da MAN and your wife is a very lucky woman! 😉

I love it when people get it, you know? They see the writing on the wall, and they know how to logically connect the dots and then predict potential future events using induction alone. Kudos!

Libertarians don’t care if you’re fat.

Libertarians don’t care if you’re fat. But they do care about your civil liberties.

So the topic of libertarianism and fat came up at BFB (a little off-topic though, sorry Paul!). Specifically, richie79, AnnieMcPhee, and DebraSY discussed how the libertarian philosophy intersects with fat liberation.

Now, we’ve talked about the common misconceptions non-libertarians have of libertarian beliefs (as did AnnieMcPhee), and we’ve also explained how libertarians can (and have) misinterpreted their own tenets to support fat discrimination (no political movement is devoid of its ignoramuses, I’m afraid).

To summarize for those who are new to this blog and the idea of libertarianism, libertarians believe, first and foremost, that granting individuals as much autonomy as possible will create the best possible society. While at some level most of us will admit there have been many examples of fascism and statism, the antitheses of libertarianism, going wrong and contributing to the great suffering of a society, we’re still brought up to believe that, at bottom, the greatest moral virtue is altruism for altruism’s sake. In other words, we’re brought up to believe that self-sacrifice — giving with the express desire not to get anything, not even happiness of moral satisfaction, in return — is the true moral spirit.

Tit-for-tat, or an eye for an eye, is considered to be a cold game of strategy between wheeler-dealers, a distasteful reality of the business world. However, it has been shown that giving with the express desire of receiving an equal return, or in other words cooperating with another in order to achieve some kind of personal reward not shared or owned by others, is the most stable societal strategy.

So just giving, and giving, and giving, will do nothing except keep you poor and keep your exploiters rich, until they are exploited by others, and society eventually collapses when there’s no one left to exploit. This is seen evidenced by the history of the income tax, which was originally initiated at a small percentage only for the very rich. Exploitation has a racheting effect — it begins at the expense of the few to the benefit of the many, and ends up preying on those who initially benefited, when everyone else has been sucked dry (or taxed at just a low enough percentage to still not unseat the status quo).

Libertarians believe firmly in the success of the tit-for-tat strategy: they believe that individuals should not be exploited, and if there are taxes, services for all should be rendered (yes, even the rich) – like defense, roads, a fair and balanced justice system, police, fire, jails, and the maintenance of basic government.

What does this have to do with fat people? Very much, in fact. One of the main tenets of libertarianism is “Hands off!” That is, if an individual is doing something that doesn’t infringe on the liberty of anybody else, that individual is free to keep doing it, regardless of whether it is “moral,” “successful,” or “healthy.”

And this brings us to the topic of universal healthcare.

Libertarians are not in favor of universal healthcare for the following (and possibly additional) reasons:
1. It costs more per person than private healthcare.
2. It delivers a lower quality of care than private healthcare.
3. It infringes upon the patient’s liberty and body autonomy in all cases.
4. It infringes upon the doctor’s liberty and financial autonomy in all cases.

(As a note: What the United States currently has is not private healthcare, it is mixed — heavy regulation, strictures, oversight, and bureaucracy.)

As such, it would follow that an individual being fat, thin, short, tall, male, female, and so forth, whether that be healthy, unhealthy, risky, or whatever — is completely a matter between the individual and his or her healthcare provider and doctor.

Body autonomy, some would suggest, is the most important part of the libertarian philosophy. As long as you are not infringing upon the liberty of others, you are free to make every and all choices for your body. I don’t care what you put in your mouth, how you feel about it, how tight or loose your pants fit, and so forth. It is not my business.

Ah, but there is a caveat, of course. Many modern societies have accepted the idea of body autonomy to some extent, but it seems as if the long arm of the government have found its gateway into your private lives in the form of concern for children.

Children are powerful political tools. Since that statement sounded rather strange, I’ll explain: many moral crusades and moral panics gain foothold with an appeal to others that, in their current state, children are somehow being neglected/abused by their parents and hence need the neighborhood/state/feds to step in. It turns the home from a sanctuary to a social welfare center, where interested parties can gain access at whim.

Libertarians love children; they are our future. But libertarians also know that government needs heavy checks and balances. The natural function of government (no pun) and its institutions is self-perpetuation. That is why it is so difficult to abolish an institution once it has been established by law and budgeted from the tax pool. It follows that governments, without proper checks and balances, often run amok, with the first thing lost by its citizens their individual autonomy and family rights.

There’s also the question of efficiency. Can governments parent your children, on average, better than you can? It would seem, on its face, inefficient: children go from having one or more adults concerned with their and possibly one or two other children’s welfare their whole life long, to one adult concerned with their paycheck first and then the welfare of twenty to thirty other children for at most one year at a time. And while there are exceptionally good and exceptionally bad parents, there are also exceptionally good and exceptionally bad teachers. In the end, mass parenting is less efficient and results in a lower quality of life for the average child.

That’s not to say that true neglect and abuse should be allowed. Children are citizens too, and have certain rights. However, the care of children is best left up to parents at large, with neglect and abuse dealt with by the courts on a case-by-case basis.

A widely successful tool of political manipulation is to claim that children are in harm’s way, and hence it is necessary for the state to step in. Those making this claim would go to any lengths to persuade you of its veracity, for if they are successful, they will wield immense power over the lives of not only the children, but their parents.

It is not a surprise that the concern over “obese” children has led to pressed charges, requirements, and regulation of the parents. What do you think would be in your, as a representative of institutionalized government, best interests once you have successfully invaded a fat person’s home? Why, set it up so that you can invade as many homes as you desire. Create an “obesity epidemic” by lowering the BMI cutoffs for obesity, support faulty studies creating the notion that “obesity kills” so the voters won’t be horrified when you rob them of their civil liberties, and create a funding pool in the form of interested parties who will profit from the fear you’re creating so that the programs which steal the civil liberties of your citizens become institutionalized, and hence almost impossible to abolish.

It’s a fast ride on that gravy train.

What is the number one concern of libertarians? Civil liberties, of course. Hence, who is on the front lines, fighting against the slippery slope described above? Libertarians. Libertarians recognize your fundamental right to your body, your right within reasonable limits to parent your child as you see fit (“reasonable” being whatever doesn’t infringe upon the civil liberties of your child), and to make damned sure that before any new law or regulation is enacted, the rationale behind the law/regulation is airtight (as we know the ant-obesity scientific rationale is most certainly not).

Of course, none of this is to say that I agree with the idea that the vast majority of fat people are fat because they’re stuffing their face all the time and not exercising (we all know I do not!), but that it doesn’t matter if that is indeed the case. It does not matter if one man stuffs his face to 500-lb newsworthy headless infamy, or if another man believes his thinness to be due to his constant heroic feats of self-control.

None of that matters, because someone being fat, thin, tall, short, male, female, white, black, Jew, Muslim, healthy, unhealthy, is no one’s damned business but his/her own. It makes NO DIFFERENCE to their legal protected status as citizens, it makes NO DIFFERENCE to their ability to add to their country productively, it makes NO DIFFERENCE to their ability to raise future generations of citizens. And yes, I know that the “unhealthy” label is extremely loaded these days. Being “unhealthy,” especially perceived as actively so, is often perceived as somehow actively infringing upon the rights of your fellow citizen. I hope, having read the argument above, you’ll realize why that’s moral panicked nonsense.