December 12, 2012

The 2,000-Year-Old Wonder Drug - NYTimes.com

The 2,000-Year-Old Wonder Drug - NYTimes.com: "...Everyone may want the right to use tobacco products and engage in other behaviors that are unequivocally linked with disease — or have the right not to wear a seat belt and refrain from other actions that may protect their well-being. But, if so, should society have the obligation to cover the costs of the consequences?..."


While I endorse the use of a daily aspirin dose and take one myself, I don't endorse the underlying ideology this author suggests early in the piece that certain substances be banned by political fiat as Bloomberg is doing in New York.

For sure, I agree that people should be encouraged to participate in a healthy lifestyle and educated about the negative consequences of certain foods and substances, but banning these for all people is an abridgment of freedom and liberty. This is a very difficult area, I know, particularly for those substances that are not highly addictive or gateways to addictive substances that are damaging to health and society, e.g., hard drugs and the crime that follows their use.

I agree with the author that society should not have to bear the consequences of stupid or self-damaging behaviors by individuals who abuse their freedom and avoid responsibility and accountability. A reasonable way to accomplish that is by society and government condemning such behavior and making it very expensive monetarily for people to participate in it. The high taxes on tobacco products is a case in point.  Another way is for insurance costs for people who abuse themselves with dangerous substances or behavior to be higher. Fairness and reasonableness demand there be a price paid by individuals for their risky behavior.

This is not meant to be mean or unforgiving of people who cannot control their lives, but those who can and won't should not be able to ride free on society's largess.
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