He Who Pays The Bills Makes The Rules

Fox News, the bastion of modern neo-conservatism, is knee-deep in stupid:

Soft drinks have unfairly become the whipping boy of most anti-obesity campaigns. Maybe friends shouldn’t give friends Big Gulps, but to my knowledge, no one’s ever been forced to buy and drink one. People who want sweet drinks will find and consume them, regardless.

There’s an element of personal responsibility and control that this law and others like it don’t even attempt to address. At the end of the day you end up with a well-intentioned law that oversimplifies the problem and provides a correspondingly oversimplified solution.

No one’s denying that that we’re in the middle of an epidemic. Twenty-five percent of applicants are deemed too fat to serve in the Armed Forces. The implications for the defense of the country as well as for the future competitiveness of the American workforce are catastrophic.

But taxing, limiting and legislating soft drinks will not solve this crisis. Our history of isolating, demonizing and replacing ingredients in a quest for health proves that.

Here’s the thing:  the government pays for health care* and as a natural consequence is the one who gets to create ways to keep down the cost of paying for said health care.  Most people understand this when it comes to families:  daddy pays the doctor bills, and so daddy makes little Tommy eat spinach and beets instead of Snickers and Butterfingers because daddy doesn’t want to pay for diabetes meds for little Tommy for six, ten, or fifteen years.  No one has a problem with this because everyone understand that whoever pays the bills makes the rules.
Of course, the government is the one paying the doctor bills.  If it assumed that legislators actually represent the people who elect them, the government is paying the doctors’ bills at its citizens’ request.  Thus, it is well within the right of the government to limit what people consume because the government is stuck paying for the consequences of people’s consumption.  When fatties decide to load up on sugary soft drinks, it’s the government that pays for diabetes medicine and cavity fillings.
It would be irresponsible for the government to let costs get out of control, and there are only two ways to prevent it: the government can stop paying for health care or the government can try to prevent people from needing health care in the first place.  My personal preference is that the government simply does not pay for health care at all.  However, if people demand that the government pays for health care, then I’m going to demand that the government find some way to limit costs.
The problem, ultimately is that conservatives, like liberals, have unreasonable expectations.  We cannot have everything we want.  There are limits.  These limits can be self-imposed voluntarily in the market, or they can be imposed coercively by the state.  But make no mistake, these will be imposed at some point.  Thus, it is foolish and unrealistic to demand a system that has no limits.  And yet, this is exactly what conservatives want.
* And don’t give me any nonsense about Obamacare.  The government has been paying for health care on a large scale in some form since the advent of Medicaid and Medicare, both of which receive strong support from conservatives.

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