And now for a taste of something different!
I imagine that this is going to come back to bite me in the butt someday, but here’s a thought experiment
that a twitter conversation inspired.
I asked what is a good person? The other half of the conversation claimed that a good person has a “good heart, [is] well intentioned, generous, caring, kind etc …” If we ignore the moderate ambiguity of some of these terms, taking them at face value and ignoring valid philosophic tangents embodied by Socratic and sophist claims as to the nature of good, we can confidently claim to have found a reasonable definition? I will try to tidy it up by polishing it all down to “an individual who takes others into consideration when making decisions, so as to make everyone as happy as possible. (We could assign economic jargon like uility and welfare to this, but we don’t really need them right now, and this way all of the econ-impaired will be able to follow along). It wouldn’t be hard to show how each of the aforementioned characteristics (as well as a few others of equal importance) fall in line with this simplified definition very well, but for sake of brevity, I’m not going to waste my time on that.
We can expect that these characteristics must extend to all people, no? If so, then they can extend to people who are not yet born as well, as being people, they deserve the same consideration as those who are currently alive. So then, any action taken should its impact on future generations into account. How does this make fat people bad? The top ten leading causes of death in America are:
•Heart disease: 616,067
•Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
•Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
•Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
•Alzheimer’s disease: 74,632
•Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
•Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
Of these heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and diabetes are all linked to obesity. The cost of healthcare in Canada was 172 $bi in 2008 and can only have grown since then. I wonder how much of this monolithic cost can be attributed to overweight individuals who are prone to more injuries and ilnesses, meaning that we wouldn’t have to incur many of these costs but for the fact that these people are overweight. This debt burden isn’t being paid now but is being passed onto future generations, as governments continue to kick the can down the road, to use the runaway colloquialism. (Don’t mistake this as an argument for fiscal austerity.) How about the increase in waiting times because of their presence in the health system? How many hip or knee replacements they receive because they didn’t look after the ones they had? How many research dollars are being spent to fix problems that are largely related to obesity when they could be directed at other, more universal problems? This is not to say that we shouldn’t be trying to fix these problems; rather it is more a matter of realizing the enormous, far-reaching impact of obesity on our society.
Fat people are placing an excessive burden on society’s shoulders, and how many of them can legitimately claim that it is a medical condition completely beyond their control? At SOME point it was well within the control of many of these people, and yet they ambled on to Krispy Kreme without thinking about how their decision to finish the whole box would affect everyone else. That society is worse off for their decisions never crosses their minds, and given our above definition, makes fat people intrinsically “not good.”
Please bear in mind that this can be extended to smokers, drug users, extreme athletes – anyone who self-selects into a pool of heightened-risk-of-damage. At the moment though, fat people seem to be the largest drain and the most controversial one to speak of.
So that’s the gist of it – the central pillar of a thought experiment I toyed with earlier today. We all have our good moments and our bad moments, but it smacks of truth at some fundamental level – if fat people really cared, they’d try harder to get into shape. Or maybe not – it’s just a musing…