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Fat Tax(84 posts)

Fat TaxSintesi
Apr 16, 2003 5:14 PM
Hi-ya remember me?? This idea is a coming! We are maybe a decade away FROM NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS but when the London Times is starting to get the picture....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-647989,00.html

Dullards. I was there way first. You all read it here in a lowly roadbike fanciers' internet board (ruled by a lawyer from Fresno -is that America brothers and sisters? I ask you.).

$117 billion (!!) lost annually my friends. Either you go along with this ridiculous fiscal atrocity, repeal the past sin taxes for fairness' sake, or accept tyranny of the corpulent majority (at this rate obese folk in the US will BE the majority in 4 or 5 decades) over the skinny, resource saving, earth loving minority . Don't let huge folk rule the planet!!

Anyf**kinhoo this will become the catch-phrase of 2003: "Eat a salad save a Kurd." It IS likely to catch on.

Stand by.
You are so wisePaulCL
Apr 16, 2003 5:48 PM
I remember the thread from months (years?) ago. Did you notice that the article was written by a LA resident???

Why do I pay the same health insurance rates as my obese neighbor??? The smoker pays higher life insurance rates. The bad driver higher auto rates. Those with a medical condition pay higher disability rates. Why should I, a fit 41 year old non smoker, regular exerciser subsidize the ever-growing obese minority??? I think not.

OK, Sintesi, you opened the can of worms again. Let's unite! Let's start a movement! Let's kick some insurance company executives butts!! I'm sure they're probably obese. Let's run/ride/jog/powerwalk our skinny butts to Washington and demonstrate in front of the White House. Yeah..."W" is in shape, he'll be on our side. Gotta keep Cheney away, though. MB! can put us all up for the night - I've seen his picture...he's skinny too.

An added benefit to pissing off all of the "big" people is that my Mother in law and sister-in-law will hate me....hee-hee-hee....Oh this is gonna be great...

Disclaimer: All of this was in jest. I realize there is no hope of fair insurance rates. Somehow, we would be accused of discrimination - though we are the ones now being discriminated against.
Cycling is a liberal political statementPdxMark
Apr 16, 2003 7:15 PM
Cycling is the ultimate endorsement of liberal politics!

What is more Liberal than reducing dependence on imported oil (ok, mtn bikers do drive to their rides, so they are only quasi-liberals), reducing the air pollution spewed from over-sized cars, reducing the acreage devoted in cities to storing (parking) cars, and now, just being healthful?

We might quibble amongst ourselves about the immorality and dishonesty of the Bush Administration, but at least we are fundametally all good bike-riding Liberals!!

So, shame a Conservative, go ride your bike!
Liberal...me...no way!!PaulCL
Apr 17, 2003 6:41 AM
Conservative..not that either! But NEVER liberal.

Of course, my Hummer does have a "Save the Whales" bumper sticker. Does that make me liberal??? But, on the other hand, I think Tim Robbins is a flaming A-hole! But...I would commute if I had the facilities to do so.....Oh...I am so confused.

All I know is that riding a bike has nothing to do with my politics but everything to do with my passion.
I think cycling is more about freedom than anything else nmDougSloan
Apr 17, 2003 6:42 AM
Nope...Doug...you're a liberalPaulCL
Apr 17, 2003 7:31 AM
Time to face reality: you are a left wing democratic. A liberal just becuase you like to ride a bike.

I'm justing kidding you....Even though I'm probably 2000 miles away, I could see your face turning red and you fists clenching in anger.....:)
not a problemDougSloan
Apr 17, 2003 7:48 AM
It is so wrong, I'd have the same reaction if you called me a "New Yorker." Huh? Nothing to get angry about, simply incorrect (despite OldEd's efforts...).

Doug
Ok - maybe just a thread of Liberal... :)PdxMark
Apr 17, 2003 9:24 AM
I agree... cycling itself, as an activity, actually is apolitical... I was just having fun with an underhanded usurption of cycling into a political camp... Though some motorists driving past a cyclist would likely lump all cyclists into the homosexual Communist Liberal camp.

But commuting by bike, or being willing to, THAT really does show a hint of liberal inclination... Beware! Your neighbors are wondering about you!! :)
Ok - maybe just a thread of Liberal... :)purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 9:31 AM
Although I see absolutely nothing wrong with being a liberal, how does commuting by bike put one into that category? In NYC, it's often faster to travel by bike. It's cheaper (unless one of those Nazi cops gives you a ticket for going through a red light; and NOBODY stops for red lights here), and better for one's sense of well being. Given all that, I'd say the one description that would fit cyclists is: smart.
HEHEHEMJ
Apr 17, 2003 4:47 AM
it's always tough for me visiting the states - no smoking signs placed unironically in places fattening everyone up -which is more harmful? seriously you just don't see people who can't wipe their arse, very often, excepting American tourists, in Europe

the way forward on this from an insurance angle is to motivate someone in the industry to fill that niche in the market - non-smoking, non-obese people's insurance - it's bound to be an earner - just think how many people would buy it (or try to) and how few claims you'd get from the 'active'
but it's unfair to discrimate, as they can't help it, right? nmDougSloan
Apr 17, 2003 7:50 AM
Some can't, some canKristin
Apr 17, 2003 8:20 AM
Ask yourself this question: Is food the problem for most obesee people? (It would be helpful, as you search for the answer, to keep at least one of your own compulsions in the for front of your mind.) You see, the compulsion is rarely the root of the problem...its only a symptom, and becomes a problem of its own over time, but its not the cause. And attacking the symptoms won't resolve the problem. Its like a dandylion. You can snatch it out of the ground; but if you don't get the roots too, it will grow back again.

Take alcoholism. It begins as a disorder--not a disease. Some sort of emotional trauma or unresolved struggle drives the person to seek relief and comfort through alcohol. Over time, it can become a physical dependancy--just as food can--but it still has hidden roots beneith the surface. Part of the problem with obesity--and any eating disorder--is that people tend to attack the symptom. Articles like this clearly label food and/or lack of self-control as the problem. But food isn't the cause--neither is a lack of discipline. And attempting to shame the obese person--as some of you are doing here--will likely serve to increase their drive to overeat. When was the last time you made a healthy, positive change because someone shamed you?

I think America's true epidemic emotional bankrupcy. We have very little inside ourselves that can be used to nurture others. The result is that we attack each other which results in more emotional damage and unhealthiness, creating a downward spiral of emotional depravity.
Too deep for a holiday weekPaulCL
Apr 17, 2003 8:44 AM
"downward spiral of emotional depravity" I just can't handle that one on the eve of a three day weekend. I want to enjoy some emotional and physical depravity over the next few days. I'll deal with it on Monday.

Kristin...all kidding aside, I generally agree with you. The obesity (or drinking, drugs, etc...) are often just the external manifestations of a deeper problem. Depression, family problems, etc drive people to take part in unhealthy activities. Maybe I'm lucky, when things are going badly, I get on my bike and work out the problems.

But, to get back to the original post. I don't think that I should be penalized on my insurance rates for someone else's emotional problems that lead to obesity. I don't want to shame anyone, but a little bit being self conscious of appearance and health wouldn't hurt. This is a regular topic in my extended family since I have some rather "large" members. They are constantly trying to get me to not exercise becuase "my activity level just tires them out"....there are underlying problems there......
I understand, sort ofDougSloan
Apr 17, 2003 8:44 AM
About 10 years ago the grandmother of a girl I was dating saw a picture of us together and said, "Oh, he's a little husky, isn't he?" When I learned that, I immediately dieted and lost 40 pounds. Seriously. Shamed into it? You bet.

The bottom line about probably 95% of obese people is that if you put less food in your mouth, you lose weight. Combine that with even some nominal exercise, and you lose weight faster.

I understand a little. I'm about 15 pounds over my racing weight right now. But, racing weight is probably 8-10% body fat. Since I'm not racing, and my clothes still fit, I'm not all that concerned. When I want to lose weight, I simply do it. So, I understand not being perfect, but I can't understand getting way out of control. It's not like it happens over night. If you should be at 150 pounds, and you get up one morning and realize you are 200, why would you then let yourself get to 250? It's beyond comprehension to me.

I'm not sure what this has to do with emotional bankruptcy or morality. Rather, I think is has mostly to do with cheap and easily obtainable fattening food, and people with too little self discipline not to eat it. While some people truly do have medical conditions that worsen the problem, even they would have the opportunity to get help for it.

I'm not sure how I could nurture someone into losing weight. Besides it being none of my business, I would think that they have to decide for themselves to do it, and nothing I say makes any difference.

BTW, I'm not intending to attack anyone for being over weight. I couldn't care less what other people do. Everyone is free to do whatever they want. All I'm saying is that I don't understand it, and I really think it usually boils down to making a decision to lose weight and the self discipline to make it happen. Of course, I could be wrong.

Doug
HmmmKristin
Apr 17, 2003 10:57 AM
I'm not sure I'd argue that responding to someones shaming by changing our behavior is a "healthy" thing to do. It may have had a positive outcome--or at least the appearance of a positive outcome--but when we respond to shame, it indicates something out of balance in us. Same goes when we feel compelled to shame others. I've been on both sides of that fence myself.

I agree with your logic about over-eating. Its true that if you eat less, you weigh less. And if you eat more, you weigh more. But what if it is just as difficult for the over-eater to stop eating as it was for you to give up ultra-cycling? What if there is something that compells them to seek food for comfort. Then its not so simple as a change of diet. The person who eats for comfort (most obese people) are driven to it and can't stop without a season of counciling. If this weren't the case, there wouldn't be so many unhappy, overweight people.

I agree about the insurance debate. But really, there is no way to regulate and adjust charges for that. The tax can't be levied on the person, it must be levied on the food. And I'm all for that. Chocolate and sweets/snacks should be taxed like cigarettes. They are, after all, a luxury item.
Hmmm Indeedpurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 11:32 AM
Why can't the tax be levied on the person? I'm sure actuaries can figure out how much per pound over ideal weight they cost extra, so why not just pass that cost onto them? If they're a bigger risk, there should be a higher premium. Couldn't be more fair than that. Fatty foods, unlike cigarettes, can be consumed with no adverse health effects depending on the eating/exercise habits of the individual. Why tax them when the problem is clearly with the consumer?

Shaming can be a perfectly good way to nudge someone back into line. I'd say in the case of someone not being ashamed of being obese, there's something more wrong with them than the person who starts to feel the need to slim down.
Okay, you go push that thru the court systemKristin
Apr 17, 2003 11:48 AM
That would never make it through the supreme court.
Okay, you go push that thru the court systempurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 11:51 AM
Just because it's politically unpopular doesn't mean it's not right. Certainly makes more sense than what you're proposing.
Tell me, are you ever wrong about anything? nmKristin
Apr 17, 2003 12:01 PM
Surepurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 12:09 PM
And if you can prove me wrong, I welcome it.
All can and shouldpurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 8:57 AM
Food is the problem for obese people just as alcohol is the problem for alcoholics. There may be infinite reasons underlying the need to overeat or overindulge, but that doesn't make either a disease. Considering them as such is just another way to take responsibility away from the individual and push it onto an overindulgent society.

That obesity is now considered a "disability" is an indication of how crazy the PC movement has become. Just today there was a story about a man who weighs 420 pounds who was refused a job at McDonalds due to his obesity. He's suing because he feels they violated anti-discrimination laws against the disabled. Well, how are the consequences of eating too much the same as losing a leg in a car accident or being born with spina bifida?

Should obese people be shunned, ridiculed, treated cruelly? No. They're still people. Should they receive advantages because they're unwilling to control their impulses? I don't think so. There are plenty of resources available to the obese that will effectively slim them down. As for the "it's genetic" crowd, there were no fat prisoners in concentration camps, no fat people amongst the starving in Ethiopia.

If they don't want to be fat, they don't have to be. And it's wrong for society to take them by the hand and say, "it's okay." It's not okay. It's not healthy, and they increase the cost of healthcare for the rest of us.

Perhaps if the stigma of the unwed mother remained in effect there would be fewer suffering one parent children; so too the numbers of obese.
That sounds very contradictoryKristin
Apr 17, 2003 11:08 AM
You state that no one should be shamed, then close your post with this:

"Perhaps if the stigma of the unwed mother remained in effect there would be fewer suffering one parent children; so too the numbers of obese."

Stigma's are a form of shaming, and they do not "fix" broken people. They just cause hiding, which may have the appearance of being better, but will lead to other types poor behavior.
Read with more carepurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 11:35 AM
I didn't say they shouldn't be shamed, just that they should not be treated cruelly. Shaming can be very subtle and, actually, it probably occurs more in their own mind than without.
I don't understand how we got to where we are...PdxMark
Apr 17, 2003 9:04 AM
I'm not sure that things in the US now are any different, in a national emotional sense, than they were in the 60's, 70's or even 80's. But it seems that serious obesity (not a medical term, just my sense of really super-sized) used to be a rarity and is now ... if not common, at least not uncommon.

Weight swings happen for all, or most of us. (I'm probably one of the metabolically fortunate.) I think we as a nation have forgotten how to eat healthy food. We children of the 60's and later had such a fabulously rich array of comfort foods growing up. Adulthood, including all its other freedoms, included the freedom to indulge those childhood food treats. Now, we have second and third generations of kids being raised to indulge those food fixes that spun out of control for the kids of the 60's and later.

There really is no prospect of it improving any time soon. I imagine the US, in time, edging toward obese/"thin" classes or castes that to some degree keep to themselves. There even seems to be a bit of a correlation to economic classes - not entirely, but loosely - with obesity tending to be greater in lower economic classes than upper ones. This is just my observation... maybe it's not an actual trend.

Overall, it all really comes down to soda pop (directly or metaphorically). One pound of fat stores about 4500 calories. One can of soda pop is 160 calories. One excess can of pop each day adds about one pound of fat to a person each month. Over a year that's 12 pounds. Over 10 years that's 120 pounds. That's one way that the fat can pile on.... How to get it off is an different issue entirely.
Let's look at the Euros...purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 9:26 AM
Contrary to popular misconceptions, there are fat Europeans. There just aren't nearly as many as fat Americans. Given that our diets are getting more similar all the time (they're eating more like us), I believe one major cause of obesity here is that so many people have given up smoking. It's no secret that the French, who love to put us down as "stupid, fat Americans" smoke like chimneys. I would hardly consider them to be in a morally superior position.

However, the second major reason why we have so many more fat people, I believe, is that it's OK to be fat here. Oh my God, do we need more French thinking people here?
I agree with you. Our food quality has gone to potKristin
Apr 17, 2003 11:17 AM
And that responsibility rests entirely on the shoulders of the FDA and the big food manufacturers. (I can't believe that "food" and "manufacturer" could ever be combined.) And many people who are somewhat over-weight fall into this category. I fall into this category. I'm 30 pounds over-weight. I'm more conscious of it now, but it requires a fair amount of effort to prepare a healthy, unprocessed diet for myself.

But in this thread, we are talking about obesity. People who are near to or more than 100 pounds over weight. The examples given above, are of people at least 200 pounds over weight. When it gets to that point, its often about more than just diet & excercise. Otherwise, the person would have made a life-style change when their weight began affecting them negatively.
Whose fault is that?purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 11:42 AM
How is it the FDA and manufacturers' responsibility that people choose food that is more convenient than it is healthy? If people valued health, that is, if they were ashamed of being unhealthy and looking unhealthy, very few would buy Twinkies. Then the manufacturers would adapt their products to what was most profitable.

At 30 pounds overweight, depending on your BMI, you may fit the definition of obese.

http://www.ama-assn.org/insight/spec_con/patient/pdf073.pdf
Economists, help me out. Is this money really "lost"?czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 10:13 AM
    Throw in other complications, such as lost productivity, and its cost to the US economy runs to about $117 billion a year.


Is this true, or is that money recouped (or even vastly overshadowed) by the money made by the processed food industries that allow people to gain all this weight, and the diet industries that help them lose it (so they can go back to processed food)?

Sometimes the stupidity and waste that we tolerate (and sometimes even seem to encourage) in this country boggles the mind. The only explanation is that someone, somewhere is coming out ahead (and sharing the wealth with law and policy makers).

Is it possible that while there is a true $117 billion "loss" to the economy in general, this is simply the result of a not quite efficient system of transfering money from the poor (who are over-represented among the obese)?
are fat people less productive? nmDougSloan
Apr 17, 2003 10:26 AM
are fat people less productive? nmpurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 10:39 AM
According to the fat woman from San Francisco who sued a health club to become a fitness instructor, they're not. Then one must wonder if the health club lost patrons because they figured why bother.
<i>If</i> they suffer more frequently from illness they are. nmczardonic
Apr 17, 2003 11:59 AM
I doubt itKristin
Apr 17, 2003 11:35 AM
There are too many greedy, powerful, money mongers. If there were a 117 billion whole, they'd be on it like white on rice. Right now the economy (i.e. stock value) is more important to most big American CEO's than even the health and safety of the people they employ. They would change their strategy if there were any indication that it would damage their profits.
And you know this how? nmpurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 11:43 AM
The genius of capitalism?czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 11:58 AM
I have to agree with Kristin. Money isn't allowed to simply fall through the cracks.
Well this is a monumental day! Whoda thunk it. ;-) nmKristin
Apr 17, 2003 12:30 PM
Basic logicKristin
Apr 17, 2003 11:59 AM
Its just like the 1970's debate about the role of computers. Everyone was all worried that computers would replace people's jobs. And they did. But the underlying fear was, "Oh no, there will be massive layoffs and no one will have a job and the economy will fall and there will be over lords and plebes." Now none of that happened. Why? Because its not good for the economy when large amounts of people are unemployed. What's the underlying fear about a suposed 117 bil deficit. That somehow the economy will damaged. Therefore, it is in the interest of the people captaning the ship to make sure that doesn't happen. So, even if there is some $117 billion/year deficit, it won't be there for long.
Huh?purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 12:07 PM
Basic logic would suggest that it's in every employer's best interest to have healthy, happy employees since they are more productive than sick, unhappy ones. So, I don't understand how you could know that CEO's just bleed their employees dry without regard for the bottom line.

Sounds like a tired and disproven, but very PC, argument to me.
Competing interests.czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 12:10 PM
Is it better for employers to foster healthy employees or rampant consumers?

Tired maybe, but disproven? When? What is the proof?
Happy workers = higher profits.purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 12:16 PM
So, workers got better health care, child care, benefits, salaries and work environments. No, it wasn't just out of the goodness of the boss's heart. But if everybody wins, who cares (and, actually, before lawsuites were common, companies often treated workers BETTER out of a sense of fairness and responsibility than when workers took them to court to settle an injury).

Are employers creating consumerism? I thought that was the media.
That = Nonsense.czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 12:22 PM
Your right about one thing: people didn't get benefits out of the goodness of their employer's hearts.

Everything else in your last post was absolutely preposterous.
That = Truthpurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 12:27 PM
Sorry to burst your liberal bubble, czar, but everything I stated is true.

While I realize it may sound preposterous to someone who is closed minded and hostile to business, it is, nontheless, quite true and well documented. I won't bore you with the details unless you want them. Suffice it to say, for the time being, that the research was done by my own liberal and very surprised (and disappointed) father.

Surprising? Yes.

Preposterous? Apparently not. Unless, of course, you have anything other than your own biased opinion to back up your words.
And your father is who?Kristin
Apr 17, 2003 12:31 PM
What research are you siting here?
And your father is who?purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 12:38 PM
A well respected legal historian and constitutional law scholar who actually believes in having facts to back up one's position.
Oh, okayKristin
Apr 17, 2003 12:39 PM
Well I believe everything you said then. What grade are you in now anyway?
Oh, okaypurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 12:58 PM
I'm not asking you to believe anything I say. Just, perhaps, have something more than your wishy washy feelings to back up your opinions. Is that too much to ask?

I'll take the findings of a skeptical researcher over your hostile PC non-arguments any day.
Details please.czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 12:34 PM
Tell me how the history of the labor movement is a liberal fiction. Tell me how labor unions acheived nothing for the American Worker, other than to mitigate the grandiosity of American Employers.
That's not what I'm suggesting.purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 12:53 PM
The labor movement was necessary, but it's not the complete story.

My father was researching the history of worker lawsuits in America and focused on railroads in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He expected to find data that showed that as more and more workers filed lawsuits, they recovered more money and got better working conditions. What he found, instead, was that before lawsuits were prevalent, the railroads paid out more money and in more circumstances, and were more responsive to safety issues. For instance, if a worker lost an arm in an accident, the wife often appealed to the railroad to support the family. The railroads almost always did. After lawsuits became common, that never happened, and the families were worse off and relations between worker and employer became adversarial. Hence the need for the labor movement.

I am not asserting that all companies all of the time were fair and kind to their employees. But I don't believe that they are as out to screw them as you obviously do. How can you deny that work conditions and benefits have improved well beyond what the law requires? Really, the most successful companies are the ones with the happiest employees. The CEO that ignores that data shoots himself in the foot.
Okay.czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 1:08 PM
But I don't think that this addition to the story completes it either.

It sounds like employers simply deferred the hassle of settling claims and defining damages to the legal system rather than handling the matter themselves. Standardizing this process and putting it in the hands of a third party is probably best for both employers and employees. As you say, the railroads "almost always did" (the right thing).

Obviously, the employer still has an incentive to maintain health and safety, because the law still holds the employer responsible for occupational hazards. Is it not odd then that conditions would deteriorate? That suggests to me that employers found a point of balance were the amount they were spending to settle claims balanced with the amount they were saving by limiting safety measures.

I am not saying that employers are out to screw their employees. I am saying that employee health and safety are balanced among other competing interests.
I'm sorry I got here so late,TJeanloz
Apr 17, 2003 1:54 PM
I've had a very busy day, but this is a really interesting topic for me. What it comes down to is that everybody here is right. Some CEOs don't care a bit about their employees, others care a great deal, and have recognized that happy, healthy employees are more productive than those that are not. My father, who employs many people, doesn't care about any of them. Not even a little bit. He cares about their on-the-job safety to the degree that Czar suggests -- it is in his own best interest not to have people getting hurt and him getting sued.

Contrast that with somebody like Jim Goodnight at the SAS Institute, which is famous for its employee benefit programs. SAS employees (I had a girlfriend who worked their) are ridiculously perked. Free everything, and cheap everything else. Now, Goodnight would be the first to tell you that this is also in his best interest -- employee turnover at SAS is 4% annually, in an industry where the average is 25%. Yes, employee health and safety is balanced against the desire to keep employees around (i.e. it's not entirely altruistic), but wasn't that the original poster's point?
The facts can be so infuriatingly non-partisan.czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 2:08 PM
Conicidentally, I just finished reading an article that stated:

    "According to Nextera Enterprise, a management consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., nearly 6.5 million workers left their jobs last year, costing companies an estimated $75 billion to replace them."
Non-partisan doesn't infuriate me, it makes me smile (nm)TJeanloz
Apr 17, 2003 2:11 PM
Nothing better than facts that are actual facts, and not some party politics.
Just a little humor. . .czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 2:18 PM
. . .half at my own expense.
TJeanloz, I have a question for you...purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 2:37 PM
Feel free to ignore this but I'm curious to know why your father developed the attitude towards his employees that you described. Did he ever care about them and something nasty happen, or did he never possess it?

Does he not socialize with any of them? Is he a generally unhappy man?

I know these are really personal, but I'd be interested if you care to share.
There are a number of different issues,TJeanloz
Apr 17, 2003 3:00 PM
On the whole, he never cared about any of them very much. He never cared about management at all, but had some affinity for the guys in the trenches (i.e. on assembly lines). However, he comes from a school of thought wereby labor is simply an input, no different from machinery and raw materials. He isn't cruel or mean to his employees, but he doesn't hit his machines with baseball bats either. He treats his employees and his robots with about the same arms-length approach.

Historically, when the Company was small (<100 people) he did socialize with a lot of the employees. There was an attempted union organization (which was eventually rejected by 98%), but while the union was involved in "organizing activities", which was 2 years, he was legally barred from direct contact with any non-management employees. After that, he never re-established contact with them. It was a shame that two pro-union employees could do so much damage, but they did.

But he is generally a cheerful, focused individual. He's not the prototypical Mr. Burns; he's great with little kids, he likes people in general. He just decided at some point in his life that his employees were his employees and his friends were his friends, and the two must be mutually exclusive.
There are a number of different issues,purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 3:18 PM
Thank you for the reply. I can certainly see the value in keeping things professional, but that's very different from not caring about them at all. That seems callous, as if he truly wouldn't care if someone were injured or killed on the job. What you just described sounds okay, though I've never understood how management could so totally dehumanize their workers into being commodities.

All the same, I once had a boss who wanted us all to be "friends." Well, what a shock when we stopped being friends and went back to being employees. Then back again. Doesn't work very well, IMO.
I know you don't like meKristin
Apr 18, 2003 6:13 AM
At least I get that impression from your posts. I can only guess that you think I'm dumb or something--which would be far from the truth. So I cringe as I post this, but my experience has been that most employers do see thier employees only as commodities. I feel more like an asset than a person at my job. And when the rubber meets the road my employer will sacrifice his employee before losing stock options. I've been through 8 layoffs in the past 6 years, and at least 4 of those layoffs involved laying off over 100 employees to improve financials.

Though I have decent benefits, I don't believe that its because they care for me personally. In the end the motivation is primarily about the bottom line. If providing a POS plan instead of an HMO helps the bottom line by retaining employee's--thus saving the company money--then they'll offer it. But they'll always offer the cheapest possible solution. (I work in the outsourcing industry, and I do corporate IT work.)

And so you don't think that I never agree with layoffs, I'll tell you that I supported my former employer 100% when they set about centralizing their IT group, even though doing so eliminated some positions. The centralization steamlined networking, reclaimed waisted $$'s and aided the end user by providing better support. I can get behind that. Plus, the employees who lost their positions were offered other opportunities. My current employer recently laid off 400 employees to make the books look good for a sale. Why shouldn't I feel like a thing instead of a person?

Now, when I worked in the Big 6 the perks were astounding, but they demand your life from you. A $75/day per diem, the best hotels, and loose business expense policy means you shouldn't balk at working 60+ hours/week. Again, they do what it takes to bring in the money. The company I work for now, takes a minimalist approach...they don't offer many perks, but don't demand much of me. I put in my 37.5 and go home on Friday. But I'm not excited about serving them either. The accounting firm spent lots of money on me; but got it back by way of exempted overtime.

Have your experiences been better? What industry are you in?
Who, me?purplepaul
Apr 18, 2003 10:36 AM
Kristin, this forum allows people to be unusually blunt in their criticism of each other. It's not that I don't like you; I don't know you except through your posts here. I've found some of them to be lacking in substance and I hope that's what I've attacked. But it's really not very serious, and I apologize if I've been hurtful.

I also don't think you're stupid, though I doubt very much whether you care what I think of you. It takes some guts to post in these here parts, and I've found that just offering an opinion with nothing to substantiate it is unwise. It gives others too much ammunition to disregard those ideas as incomplete (I hope I'm not being too didactic. I'm just trying to explain my experience on this board and why I have been dismissive of some of your posts).

Your last post is really what I've been looking for, personal experiences to explain why you think the way you do; there's no arguing with that. Given the last 6 years of your work experience, I can fully understand why you would believe that companies view their employees as chattel. If that happened to me, I'm sure I'd feel the same. Actually, I don't think I'd have anything but a negative attitude.

Although you've accused me of being in grammar school, I'm actually a futures trader, trading for myself. Before that, I was an architectural photographer. I found that trying to make a living from the arts was not for me. So I taught myself to trade, risk my own money and win or lose based on my ability to discipline myself to follow what I've learned (good and bad luck basically cancel each other out). I don't fear being layed off, nor do I have to concern myself with inter-office politics; these are a few of the reasons why I decided to risk my capital doing what I do.

At night, I basically volunteer (they pay me $10/hour) my services in computer tech support at a law school near my home because I value the contact with people (most of my friends now are law students from Europe). Well, they're cutting back my hours at the end of the semester, so I'm just going to leave. It feels like I'm not valued when they can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, but can't afford to keep their better techs. But, I understand that they have their priorities and they don't care that much about the quality of support their students get. It's too bad. I'm luckier than most of the people there in that I don't rely on that paycheck for anything other than pocket change. But I will seriously miss the personal contact.

Anyway, I really don't want you to dread my posts. If I get out of line, let me know. I don't want to hurt anybody.

Regards,

Paul
The land of plentydasho
Apr 17, 2003 3:23 PM
I can't understand why this issue isn't given more attention by the government. Yea, I know it's not the government's job but it is surely in their/our best interest to have a healthy nation. Children should be taught about healthy foods and nutrition at a very early age. Instead companies such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Pizza Hut are bribing their way into the schools. Adult onset diabetes was very rare in people under 30 years of age 20 years ago but today children as young as 10 years old are diagnosed with it.

Many diseases such as adult onset diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer are caused by the overconsumption of foods, especially the fast foods we consume in the US. Yet doctors, who have almost no training in nutrition, and pharmasutical (sp?) companies try to find the magic pill that will not cure the causes but treat the symptoms.

I think refined junk or unhealthy foods should be heavily taxed (much the same as cigarettes are) although I know it would be difficult to set up a system of determing what constitutes an unhealthy food. Our bodies simply do not need Coke/Pepsi and the 10 teaspoons of accompanying sugar in each 12 ounce can. By drastically increasing the price of these "luxury" items, people would buy less of it.

I really believe a lot of people don't know how to eat correctly and that a good amount of exercise is the great equalizer as far as health is concerned. If we think medical insurance costs are high now, imagine what they will be like in the future.
The land of plentypurplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 3:34 PM
I agree that those foods have no place in public schools. I believe the government is setting itself up for some nasty lawsuits when fat kids start becoming unhealthy adults.

But, other than that, it is every individual's responsibility to eat as healthily as they wish. Since sugary and fatty foods can be consumed without adverse effects, they are fundamentally different from cigarettes, which cannot be used safely.

I guess I don't understand why people are so willing to pay money to the government rather than just make decisions on their own.
These are not just personal decisions.czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 3:53 PM
I can't make someone stop eating at McDonalds, but they can make me spend more money on health insurance. Seems like fair game for me to ask the government to force them to take responsibility for their own choices.
They can be.purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 4:45 PM
I'd rather insurance companies charge more if overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. That way, people would have a reason to eat healthier and exercise. They'd also be free not to if they're willing to pay the extra price.

I understand in Germany they don't require people to wear seatbelts. They just cut any monetary reward that person may win in a liability suit in half.
Then more people would go without insurance. . .czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 4:56 PM
. . .and we'd pay the full bill.
Hadn't thought of that.purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 5:58 PM
Though I still question the fairness of using taxes and regulations to curb people's eating behavior. If the net effect is a healthier population, in spite of my misgivings, I'd say give it a shot.

But how far should we take it? Tax unmarried people because they don't live as long? Tax city dwellers because of higher stress levels, dirtier air? Farmers because they're in contact with chemicals? Vegetables that were grown with pesticides?

I don't know. Just wish there was some way other than relying on government to change the habits, or try to, of a relative few.
Sometime Government is a necessity. . .czardonic
Apr 17, 2003 6:09 PM
. . .or a necessary evil, depending on how you look at it.

Ultimately, I think it is fair for people to take responsibility for their actions, and if it takes government to force them to do so, then so be it.
Sometime Government is a necessity. . .purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 6:22 PM
Without a doubt, government has its place. But this makes people less responsible. In principle, that bothers me. But if the reality is a slightly better country, I'm certainly willing to compromise. My fear is how far that principle will have to be bent or broken when there are alternatives. Unfortunately, I can think of no scenario where the gov wouldn't have to come down with some regulation to try and force people to do one thing over another. Force people to pay more for junk food? Then some who can enjoy it "responsibly" might not be able to afford it (I have an uncle who eats McDonalds regularly and he has the lowest cholesterol his doctor has ever seen, and a really good heart). Force people to have insurance? Then you have to force them to work and spend their money on something they may not want.

Personal freedoms, blah. I want Saddam back.
Good pointdasho
Apr 17, 2003 5:39 PM
I see your point but I think the only way many people will stop eating non nourishing foods etc. is by heavily penalizing them and the companies that produce them. Maybe the tax money could be used to educate the people (mostly poor) about the power of proper nutrition and exercise, to build more parks, greenways. It also would help to make 1/2 hour of exercise per day in school mandatory.

To be honest I don't think the demise of our health can be turned around. Our lifestyle is too sedentary and corporate America is only interested in fattening their pocketbooks. Many people don't seem to care about their health, whether it is laziness or ignorance. The sad thing is that people in poor countries that eat basic foods don't suffer from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, MS, etc. We can have all the toys and luxuries possible but if our health is bad what good are they?
Good point, but wait...purplepaul
Apr 17, 2003 6:09 PM
You know, health clubs, diet centers and health food stores are part of that evil corporate America of which you speak.

I don't understand this incessant corporation bashing, at least not over this issue. If ever consumers had the power to change something for the better, this is it. Just stop buying certain products. That's it. One would have to be extremely ignorant to not know a little something about what's good and bad to eat. Or, they could just look in the mirror and get a sense if maybe they needed a change.

Now, you blame corporate America. I blame self-indulgent people and those like Kristin who feel we should accept everything and all as if it were okay. If fewer people felt fine being fat (like Starr Jones and Oprah), there would likely be fewer fat people. Why don't you attack those two for all the pain they're causing America? I think they have a much more direct impact on people than that Ring Ding Indian. Unlike the cigarette industry, nobody is claiming that junk food is healthy. Therefore, I fail to see corporate culpability.
Yes, butdasho
Apr 18, 2003 4:58 AM
The reason I think companies such as Coke, McDonalds etc. are more than partly responsible is they start barrarging young children with commercials luring them to their unhealthy products with gimmics such as toys etc. They could be offering more healthy, good tasting food but all they are concerned with is their bottom line. An excellent book on this matter is "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schulster (sp?.

I know what you mean when you say it is in the hands of the consumer as McDonalds would change their menu if the consumers stopped buying their unhealthy fare. But most people are weak in that regard by nature and I don't think it's going to change. Something drastic needs to be done such as education and other more extreme measures as I mentioned. In the meantime, medical costs continue to skyrocket and all of us, whether we are healthy or not, will have to pay.
Yes, butpurplepaul
Apr 18, 2003 11:33 AM
I can really understand your argument, but here is my concern. One of the greatest things about America is the separation of church and state. We have decided that it is not a good thing for government to force people to live according to certain religious principles. Now, it's not perfect, but it sure beats having to kneel eastward five times a day or be killed.

Okay, now, if we're going to have government legislate "healthful" living, we are starting to coerce people into living a "certain" way. To me, that really gets close to the church/state issue. Who's to say what's healthy enough? What do we do with those who don't obey? If people have shown they want something, should government have the power to take it away? If people can't take it upon themselves to do what's in their best interest, how much power should government have to do it for them and, again, where does it stop?

That's why I love the way Germany approached the privacy/personal freedom dilemma of wearing seatbelts. Everyone is free not to. But there are consequences. That, to me, is the greatest possible outcome. I don't believe it should be government's job to force people to live a certain way that is deemed to be "best" or even "better." It's just too close to forcing them to believe in the "one true God."
Healthy and pious are hardly analogous concepts.czardonic
Apr 18, 2003 12:00 PM
There is no mystery about what kinds of dietary habits are healthy, and what kinds are not. It is not a matter of preference, opinion or superstition. True, there are some people who can eat three meals at KFC and smoke three packs a day and live to be 90. But nonbody is going to wither away if they are denied these vices or forced to pay more to ride the raggad edge of physiological disaster.

So, who is to say what's healthy enough? Dietary professionals trained to make that judgement. What to do with those that don't obey? Tax them so that they are forced to take responsibility for that decision. Should the government be able to take something away that people want? Obviously the answer is yes, unless you are an anarchist.

And the biggest red-herring of them all: Where does it stop? This whole slippery slope paranoia is belied by the many laws already on the books that get the whole hearted support of supposed "small government" advocates.

As for consequences, unless you are a proponent of denying medical care to people who do not take care of their bodies, that is an impractical approach to this particular problem. Theses people are going to get treatment, whether you like it or not and whether they can pay for it or you are forced to pay for it.

So rather than muddying the debate with specious ideological musings, I think it is time to deal with a problem that lends itself to very straightforward and non-intrusive solutions.
I totally disagree with youpurplepaul
Apr 18, 2003 12:47 PM
and your assessment that my arguments are specious. You really mean to tell me that you want your government telling you what you must eat? If you're poor, and therefore cannot afford to pay the tax, you will have no choice (or would we run afould of the Constitution and have to circumvent the law with handouts of Cheetos and cake).

If you're healthy and want a "treat" you'll be paying as if you're going on life support tomorrow. That's why I believe a better policy would be to require those who are a DEMONSTRATED risk to shoulder the added burden. It is unfortunate that in America we so often target everyone when a more surgical approach would be more fair.

I believe the slippery slope analogy is particularly apt because it is forcing everyone to pray to the same god, only this time it's created by a nutritionist. That doesn't scare you? Should we then restrict philosophy majors to the wealthy since they will probably have no job when they graduate and therefore be a burden on society? Should we only sell one car because it's the safest? Should we only teach one thing because it's the "truth?" Sounding a lot like the Christian fundamentalists you no doubt vehemently disagree with.

No, government has no business forcing the population as a whole into eating one thing over another but every business to ensure that those who make risky decisions pay for them. I don't believe that fatty foods qualify as a high risk substance (i.e. it can be consumed without any negative effects at all). It's the lifestyle of the obese consumer that's the problem. Freedom of choice is more precious than low medical bills.
You are totally mischaracterising the issue.czardonic
Apr 18, 2003 1:33 PM
Nobody is suggesting that anyone be "told" what to do or eat. The issue here is whether it is fair to tax foods in such a way that compensates for their disproportionate impact on our economy.

Such a tax would only be burdensome on those who eat these foods in large amounts. Everyone else would be able to "treat" themselves at a marginally increased price.

Moreover, poverty is limiting as a matter of course. Poor people don't have much choice about where they live, what car they drive or how many Faberge Eggs they own either.

Nutrition is a matter of physiology, not dogma. There is absolutely nothing frightening about a nutritionist deciding which foods should cost more due to their impact on public health. Again, your analogies are false and laughable.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you don't seem to realize is that a "surgical approach" could not be accomplished without more government intrusion via profiling and discrimination. What is more scary? A blanket tax on junk foods or a government program to identify and track individuals who are susceptible to over-consumption?

Are you adopting this hare-brained argument because you are bored, or because you actually don't understand the issues? Freedom is not taken away when people are forced to adopt the corresponding responsibilities. Nobody is going to be snatching the twinkies out of anybody's mouth (unless your Fat Police approach is adopted).
Are you responding to my post, because you don't seem topurplepaul
Apr 18, 2003 1:53 PM
have understood it.

Now, to your "points."

Of course taxing certain foods is "telling" people what to eat. You don't think the high taxes on cigarettes in NYC is government urging people away?

Marginally increased price probably wouldn't cover the costs or steer anyone away. And in case you haven't noticed, all sorts of things are given to poor people that seem superfluous because of a little notion called Equality Under Law. I don't think your tax is constitutional as it would effect the very poor disproportionately.

Nutrition is far from physiology since individuals react differently to the same foods (which science cannot explain) and many nutritionists disagree/have been proven wrong. There are articles every day extolling the benefits of high protein, high fat, no meat, all meat, all juice, etc. diets. You going to let the government limit your "informed" opinion? Guess I was right; you would be happier under a Stalinist dictator.

My surgical approach is a time proven method to distribute risk fairly. Or don't you think that teenage boys should pay more for car insurance?

No police would be necessary under my approach. No one would be charged extra for food or insurance unless they allowed their health to suffer.

Freedom is taken away when people have no responsibilities, and that's what you are advocating. You can insult me all you want. You're the one with the comprehension problems.
Actually, both.czardonic
Apr 18, 2003 2:13 PM
Yes, I am responding to your post, and no, I don't understand it. The only explanation I can come up with is that you are resorting to contrarian sophistry and intentional mischaractherization out of some need to be right at all cost, even if that cost is your reputation as someone worth debating.
Forget itdasho
Apr 18, 2003 4:18 PM
Let's face it, no matter how much debating we do our nations health in general will continue to decline and the problem will only get worse. Yea, we are living longer than 50 years ago but what kind of life is it when you can't tie your own shoes or get out of bed without assistance. Instead of seeking the cause of their problems, most want to find a magic pill to make the symptoms go away and the drug companies are oh so happy to sell them their snake oil.

It's sad that people who take care of themselves through proper nutrition and exercise have to pay the same costs for medical benefits as ones that don't. It definitely isn't fair. If I cause an accident with my car a couple of times, for sure my rate will go up so why is it any different than people who smoke or overeat to the point it causes serious health problems?

Most of the foreigners I talk to, whether from Asia, India, or Europe tell me how shocked they were upon first arriving here at percentage of overweight Americans. Wasn't gluttony called a sin in the Bible?
All those foreigners are just jealous of our freedom. . .czardonic
Apr 18, 2003 4:29 PM
. . .to cram salt, sugar and fat laden foods down our gullets while we sit on our increasingly fat backsides. Sure we might not have time to put a minimum effort into maintaining our bodies, our families, our communities or our democracy, but those Stalinist nutritionists at the NIH and CDC will pry our 72 Oz. Mountain Dew Big Gulps out of our cold, dead hands!

Imagine the idea of bundling in the consequences with ill-advised behavior. What were any of us thinking?
Sometimes big government is neededdasho
Apr 18, 2003 7:21 PM
I still think it is OK to tax a wide range of so called "foods" that are known to be degrading to the body and not necessary. Those who choose to imbibe in these foods occasionally won't mind paying say, $1.50 for a 12 ounce can of Pepsi or $3.00 for a Big Mac. It would be similar to the "sin tax" used for cigarettes and people would quickly which foods are deemed unhealthy. It may seem as the government is controlling our diet but it is for our own good and we still have freedom of choice to eat what we like.

This would also force food manufacturers to produce more healthy products which they could do if they wanted to. In fact, McDonalds stock declined for the first time ever last quarter and they are supposedly coming out with some new lower fat fare soon so maybe there is hope.

I'm not an advocate of big governmemt but in this case I think drastic measures must be taken.
Sort of like a benevolent dictator.purplepaul
Apr 18, 2003 7:53 PM
Why do you think drastic measures must be taken? Who's about to burst?
Drastic measuresdasho
Apr 19, 2003 12:36 PM
Ok, think about some of the obese children that are being diagnosed with adult onset diabetes in their early teens. Do you realize how much medical attention they will require over the course of their lifetime and the impact it will have on our society?

I knew a diabetic that contracted gangrene because of a small cut on his foot. A portion of his leg then had to be amputated. In fact his other leg was eventually amputated also. His case may be extreme but diabetes weakens the immune system to such a degree that a relatively mild sickness such as a common cold can be life threatening. It can also cause blindness, for instance.

Diabetes is already considered an epidemic among men over 30 years old and you wonder why drastic measures should be taken? Haven't you seen your medical benefits increase drastically over the last several years? It will get much worse in the future. I think it's a shame that the government (yes the government) relentlessly attacks the cigarette manufacturers but doesn't have any interest in educating it's citizens (commercials on TV etc.) about the hazards of obesity.
Drastic measurespurplepaul
Apr 19, 2003 5:13 PM
I agree that people should be educated about the consequences of a high fat diet coupled with a sedentary lifestyle. But that information is there for anyone who looks. The parents of obese kids, IMO, are guilty of willful abuse and should be punished. That, however, doesn't help the child. Schools could be helpful since they supposedly see the kids everyday and would be aware of any who look severely unhealthy. School boards should insist that any food provided by the schools be healthy and contain a minimum of saturated fat. McDonalds and Pizza Hut should under no circumstances be allowed on the premises. Instead of taking these seemingly common sense measures, school boards are trying to be the kids' friends and "give them what they want." Not to mention getting some extra cash from those evil multi-nationals.

But there are plenty of health problems facing us. We tend to throw the most money at the ones who yell the loudest. Here's what I believe your solution would accomplish: higher taxes and higher health bills. Why? Because you're raising taxes on food and health bills NEVER decrease.

If some people just can't be bothered to figure out why they're so unhealthy, I wish them a happy but short life. I worry more about those responsible enough to take care of themselves and who still get some awful disease like cancer. Since diet-induced diabetes is preventable, I don't look at it as the crisis you do.
Please stop embarassing yourself!czardonic
Apr 21, 2003 10:01 AM
School boards are not trying to give kids "what they want" by providing them with junk foods. They are trying to close budget shortfalls by granting lucrative concessions to corporations willing to pay to place their foods in front of an impressionable and captive audience. Corporations are the ones giving kids what they want, because that is what drives sales.

Incidentally, your "solution" also amounts to higher tax bills and higher health bills. The only difference is that it provides no new revenue.
I've changed camps...Teach
Apr 18, 2003 11:13 AM
Very interesting thread. I read much of it, but not all by any means. It's really made me think. You see, I'm in an interesting place. I've lost 130 lbs, which has taken me from morbidly obese to average. I used to be that person you dreaded sitting by on the airplane because I was taking up your seat. Just so you now, I hated it as much as you did. I felt ashamed and embarrassed; I hated being fat. I don't know what the answers are. It certainly doesn't seem fair that everyone pays through higher insurance premiums, etc. It is true that every fat person out there could lose weight if he/she chose to make the changes to their lifestyle that are necessary. When you liken it to alcohol or tobacco, please remember one thing - you can live without alcohol and tobacco, but not without food. That means that an obese person who relies on food for comfort or other things that food is not meant to provide must find a way to manage it. We can't stop eating cold turkey. As I said, I understand the issues brought up in this thread. All I ask is that you remember that the obese are people too. They are not all stupid and lazy, which is the stereotype of so many. In fact, they are probably no more stupid or lazy than any other subset of the population. You can just see their addiction more clearly. Just some thoughts.
Hey teach...long time no seeKristin
Apr 18, 2003 1:25 PM
Welcome back. And a HUGE congrats!!! I really appreciate your post on the matter, and I certainly hope my post didn't come across as rude or arrogant. If it did, I apologize.

I'm in a similar boat myself. I've never reached an extreme, but it would be fair to say that I struggle with food. (As a matter of fact, I may have some blood glucose issues surfacing. They would certainly be diet induced.) I was sad to see an "us vs. them" mentality forming in the thread and wanted to say something about the emotional stuff that goes on behind the scenes that outsiders tend to shrug off as insignificant.

How's the riding going?
Hey teach...long time no seeTeach
Apr 18, 2003 1:35 PM
The riding's going very well! I got a new bike in September - a Specialized Allez Elite. I love it! I rode in the MS150 from Houston to Austin last weekend. It's funny how I see hills differently now then when I first started riding at 250+ lbs.

Nice to be remembered. Of course, there aren't as many women as men on these boards.