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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Alabama "Fat Tax"

Although I am hard wired chafe under "Big Brother's" hand, I surprisingly have no problem with this:
Alabama recently ranked as the No. 2 fattest state in a national study looking at obesity. About 30 percent of Alabama residents are considered obese. The Alabama state government has decided it has to do something about that rate. So, in in the way typical of governments everywhere, it came up with an idea to encourage weight loss - and make some dough in the process. A fat tax. If the obese members of the state's 37,527-employee work force don't lighten up in a year, they'll be charged $25 to help pay for their health insurance - unless they get a free health screening. According to Business Week, if the screenings turn up serious problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or obesity, employees will have a year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a wellness program or take steps on their own to improve their health. If they show progress in a follow-up screening, they won't be charged. But if they don't, they must pay starting in January 2011.
First of all, these employees are "at will" and if they don't want to lose weight in order to save their employers from an already crushing health care cost, then they can always work somewhere else. There is no inherent right to a cushy government job where you can (a) send every single one of your calls to voicemail, and (b) produce next to nothing all day. Having worked for several different branches of government during my time in college (both state and federal) I know this goes on from first hand experience.

Second, because this is a case of employer/employee, it is different than what we will inevitably experience under a future socialized medicine regime. Neither healthcare nor health insurance is a 'right' in the same sense that you have a right to a trial by jury. Where the employer chooses to offer healthcare to his employees, he does so, not out of charity, but to attract and retain more highly skilled employees. On the other hand, if the government were the sole provider of healthcare, your receipt of medical treatment would be dependent upon first, whether you have lived according to the government health mandates (ie. fat intake, smoking, alcohol consumption), and only then will the government proceed to examine the severity of your illness. Because socialized medicine requires rationing, healthcare will be rationed first to those submit to government prescribed way of life. People who are too fat, too old or too young are the first to be rationed. Incredibly as it may sound, prerequisites for government healthcare demand that you stop smoking, restrict your number of child births , or that all of your health information be available to the government, etc.

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