Fat BastardWhen faced with any problem the first reaction of some is to start shrieking hysterically, “the government must do something!” Unfortunately the government is singularly terrible at doing even the most basic things well: like keeping confidential data, umm, confidential and not losing the details of millions of people as happened a few weeks ago. But when it comes to “social policy” huge government heads disappear right up even bigger governmental arseholes.

Fat heads and fat arseholes. Which brings me to this weeks topic, and the target of the latest bit of proposed social policy: obesity.

We’ve been treated to proposals about “walking strategies,” bans on the advertising of “junk food,” and better food labelling. Now the government have sunk to the gutter: bribes. If obese people lose a few pounds then the government will give them a few pounds for doing so, a few pounds of our money (forcibly taken) that is, amounting to a total of around £327 million. So, if tubby Thomas is able to see his bollocks for the first time in 15 years then he’ll get “vouchers and rewards” for his efforts. I’m seriously considering emptying the fridge in the next 24 hours in the hope of putting on a bit of weight so I can cash in on the perks and prizes available if this becomes policy.

Often campaigners and government officials are quick to blame “fast food.” I blame two things. Firstly, I blame the people themselves for filling their fat faces with too much of the wrong stuff. Obesity ultimately has little to do with genetics, slow metabolism, or any other medical condition, despite government labelling it an “epidemic.” To my mind epidemic refers to disease. But obesity is not contagious. It isn’t caused by viruses or bacteria. When fat people sneeze on a city bus the other passengers aren’t suddenly going to get fat. Just because a lot of people (apparently) are affected does not mean it’s an “epidemic.” Lots of people have money, is wealth an epidemic too? Or is there an epidemic of “ugly-ness” given some of the folks I see from day to day? No. Obesity likewise is not an “epidemic.” The cause isn’t fast food advertising, genetics or disease. If you happen to be obese ask yourself this question: did you get that size by eating salads? I suspect not. You ate too many burgers, fries, pies, and chocolate, all washed down with gallons of coke, me thinks.

The second thing I blame is our politically correct climate. This has drastically reduced social pressure and stigma that 20 years ago might have been attached to certain things. These days the only people acceptable to frown upon are those people who frown upon things. You’re not supposed to mock, ridicule or poke fun anymore. You must be “tolerant.” It’s this attitude that has lead to an increase in certain behaviour because everything is deemed fine and dandy. Why is there an increase in teenage single mothers? One reason is that there is no longer any shame attached to having casual unprotected sex with feral men. Instead the establishment frowns upon those who frown upon their behaviour and gives them a “free” house, money, and lots of free baby milk.

The truth of the matter is that you can’t nurture attitudes of acceptance while at the same time trying to tell people that what they are doing is bad. When you preach “tolerance” you lead people to believe that certain things are acceptable which knocks you off your pulpit when you tell them not to do it anymore. It is not through tolerance that people signal their disapproval of certain behaviour that costs them money: it’s through intolerance, stigma, ridicule, mockery, condemnation, and humour. These are social values, not social vices, and I suggest that we should rediscover them.

I think if we drop the disapproval of disapproval as much might be accomplished compared with offering fat people money to lose weight, money which may well find it’s way back into the tills of the local burger bar. I’d love to see travel companies charging obese people for two seats on buses, trains and planes due to the amount of overflow they produce. Moreover, why must ordinary passengers pay more for their baggage because of the extra weight but obese passengers don’t have to pay for their tubby arses? I remember being told off by my wife when we were in a restaurant: a terribly obese man was sitting down to TWO large portions of fish and chips while going on about how cursed he was because of his insatiable appetite that he could do nothing about. I was looking at him in amazement and mumbled something to the effect of “perhaps try a fruit salad for dessert you fat bastard?” only for my wife to give me “the look.” She disapproved of my disapproval.

But, political correctness only sets the table: it’s the people themselves through their own idiocy and lassitude who sit and gorge their faces. It’s a lifestyle choice, not an affliction foisted up them. I’m by no means skinny (you’d maybe make 1 1/2 Johns out of me) but I’m honest enough to know that every bit of excess weight that I carry is my own choice – restaurants don’t force me to have dessert or suck me in against my will.

Of course, social mockery and ridicule doesn’t motivate everyone. I seriously doubt it would have much impact on me, since I’m more of a “fight fire with fire” kind of person (which explains why I’m not in the fire brigade).

But there is another option for us to take, one that is preferable from the libertarian point of view: leave people alone to live their lives and accept the consequences of the decisions they make. Admittedly such a proposal is increasingly radical with every day that passes under our current socio-political climate. But I think it’s the best one, and surely much better than the State trying to play nanny to everyone who doesn’t fit its idea of the ideal citizen. If obesity causes premature aging, heart disease, back pain, or 101 other conditions that no-one has ever heard of then that really should be a matter for each individual. You make choices and live with the consequences. I can’t believe for a second that anyone is stupid enough to claim that they didn’t know being 35 stone wasn’t bad for their health.

Of course defenders of such policy tell us that carrot is better than stick. But that’s the problem – you can’t get these fat bastards to eat any fucking carrots! If you could we wouldn’t have a bloody problem! Peer and self-inflicted ‘stick’ will always be a better solution: not just practically, but politically and morally.

The only obesity problem we should concern ourselves with is that our government is much too fat for its own good, and the state’s appetite for more power over individual rights is insatiable. Unfortunately it never quite understands how or why it manages to screw up virtually everything it drags it’s sagging bloated body towards. The funniest example of this sort of policy going tits-up comes from Italy. In a small town there was a problem with a certain breed of snake. In order to get the problem under control the government decided to pay its citizens for every snake they brought in to the authorities. Seems sensible enough, eh? Well, the Italians being a wily bunch saw a business opportunity here: they got one little boy snake, and one little girl snake and put them together, making lots and lots of little baby snakes and cashed in by bringing snakes by the bucket load to the authorities. Ka-ching! Individuals outsmart their governments all the time.

But still the cry goes up: “government must do something!” The best argument I have heard in favour of government interference and the use of taxpayers money for campaigns such as this is that there is extra strain put on the health service, which means obesity isn’t just an individual’s choice – it effects all of us since we pay for their treatment and wait longer for our treatment because the doors to the hospitals are clogged with fat people waiting for stomach stapling. Rather than seeing this as an argument against the libertarian approach to these issues we should see it as an argument against the National Health Service (NHS) and an argument in favour of government control in many more aspects of our lives than advocates of this argument care to admit. Aside from obesity there are thousands of self-inflicted diseases, disorders, injuries and ailments. The most obvious example is sports injuries. These too put a drain on NHS resources. Or ailments and injuries that result from sexual intercourse, alcoholism or driving. Most of these too are self-inflicted and drain NHS resources. If we are to have an NHS we need to bite the bullet and treat all people on it no matter how they have been injured or made sick. That’s simply the price we pay for it. Fat people pay their taxes and national insurance too.

A system of private care would be so much better. It would mean that each and every individual is responsible for their own choices and the consequences of those choices. Health problems caused by obesity are therefore of no issue to anyone but Fat Fanny herself, since no one but she must pick up the tab for her treatment if she has no medical insurance. In fact, a private system of health care might be better at making people stay healthy since the insurance premiums for Chunky Charlie might be far greater or even difficult to get at all.

Regrettably there’s as much chance of me refusing my mother’s chocolate cakes as there is of our government going for the libertarian answer. The simple reason is that they like the control, and that’s what this proposal is ultimately about. They call it an “epidemic,” they compare it to climate change, they tell us how many people will be obese in 20 years, and how at risk our children are. It’s classic scare-mongering and guilt-tripping tactics, since they know well that the best way to control people is make them afraid and guilty.

Instead we must be bold and shameless in defence of our personal responsibility. We need to go on a libertarian diet: a huge dollop of rationality, a massive reduction in government interference, an extra pinch of personal responsibility and a huge helping of individual rights.

That would leave us all healthier.