This morning, after my exercise class (where there was a lengthy discussion on personal responsibility and that American culture used to stress that one was to go out of the way to not inconvenience others and respect other people’s property and space) I stopped at a chain discounter to pick up a few household staples that happen to be cheaper there than anywhere else. I walked across the parking lot, grabbed a cart and started pushing it through the store in search of the items I needed.
Before long, a sight that is all too common in this country these days came into view – a grossly morbidly obese man was driving one of the store’s motorized carts and in the basket, clearly in view, were two cases of name brand soda, neither one of which said “sugar free,” and both known to be loaded with caffeine. There were other things in the basket, but that was what caught my eye. Before long, another motorized cart, this time driven by a grossly morbidly obese woman, pulled alongside the first and the two drivers proceeded to have a conversation that indicated that they were together in some form – husband/wife,co-habitating, partners, whatever. The woman’s basket was loaded with food that my father would call “unsubstantial.”
Now, as an American, it is technically none of my business, or anyone else’s, what food and food products individuals buy and eat. Really, it isn’t, and if the “enlightened” ones among us want to wreck their immune systems being vegan and/or vegetarian, that’s their business. It really is – just as it’s these morbidly obese people who shop in store provided motorized carts business that they are loading up already over-fed bodies with “food” that causes insulin spikes, intense hunger, water retention and Heaven knows what to internal organs. It really is their business – UNTIL these people demand that tax-payers subsidize the costs for management of whatever health consequences are due to lifestyle decisions.
Plain and simply, I have the right – as someone who has taken lifestyle choice steps not to put myself in that position – to refuse to pay for someone else’s bad habits and the consequences of them when plenty of information is available regarding those consequences. This has nothing to do with the resentment I may or may not feel toward people who demand such special accommodations or any kind of prejudice against fat people. It has to do with accepting responsibility.
I understand perfectly well that there are individuals who are morbidly obese through no real fault of their own and that there are people who become diabetic and develop heart disease and cancer and so many other diseases without the extra weight. (After a considerable amount of research, I happen to believe the latter is a result of processed and industrialized food, but that’s for another time.) Those who cannot work or are part of families devastated due to these diseases having nothing to do with life-style choices deserve our compassion and voluntary charity. They really do, and there are charitable agencies set up to help with that. Before the viral infection known as “managed care” was inflicted on the population, the health care system was better able to accommodate such cases. With a straight up payment for service system and insurance being what insurance is meant to be, costs were kept under control, especially when individuals were paying for it themselves.
Now, though, given that the culture is changing to accommodate the bad habits, i.e., large chain discounters providing motorized carts for the morbidly obese, expectations are that the government will provide services for any health issues that crop up – this in a country where freedom of choice and everyone pays their own way is the traditional way things are done. That is not encouraging people to take care of themselves.
Ever since the concept of complete government provided health care (really payment for services, but why confuse accuracy with a good sales pitch) was proposed under the Clinton Administration and the farther we get from payment for services as a personal economic practice in the health arena, the worse the personal responsibility is getting. Inversely, in direct proportion, is the amount of guilt laid on we the healthy who object to the idea of paying extra taxes to socialize our health system when the private route works so much better and forces the population to really think about their decisions.
Human nature being what it is, hope is fading that the people I saw this morning in the carts will change their lives to a healthier paradigm. Just so, the promise of something for “nothing” is driving the romanticism of a single-payer system. It is not an encouraging place to be right now.