Whose business is it?
Walter E. Williams
8/21/2002 12:00:00 AM - Walter E. Williams
My health and other aspects of my well-being are the business of
You say, "What's it now, Williams?"
I'm simply asking whose business is it if I don't adequately
plan for retirement or save money for my child's education? If I don't wear
a seatbelt while driving or a helmet while biking, whose business is it?
What if I don't get enough sleep or don't exercise enough for good health --
should government force me to, under the pain of punishment? In other words,
should Congress have the power to force people to do what's in their own
health, safety and welfare interests?
I'm afraid that most Americans believe that government should be
able to force people to do what's in their health, safety and welfare
interests. Their reasoning might be that if I don't wear a helmet while
biking or a seatbelt while driving, I might have an accident, become a
vegetable and become a burden on other Americans as taxpayers.
That reasoning fueled much of the anti-tobacco zealotry,
confiscatory cigarette taxes, and federal, state and local government
lawsuits against tobacco companies in the name of recouping tobacco-related
healthcare costs. Emboldened by their dramatic success in their war against
smokers, America's neo-Nazis have now turned their attention to the food
industry, with lawsuits against the McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and
KFC, alleging that they have created an addiction to fatty foods.
Fast-food chains are alleged to have contributed to
obesity-related health problems and increased healthcare costs. Like the
tobacco Nazis, the food Nazis are calling for government regulation and
taxes on foods they deem non-nutritious. Already timid CEOs of fast-food
chains, like their tobacco-industry counterparts, are beginning to cave to
legal hustlers. Caving is easy for these cowardly executives because they
simply raise prices and pass the costs on to their buying public.
Should the fact that if I become injured by not wearing a
seatbelt or sick from eating and smoking too much, and become a burden on
taxpayers, determine whether I'm free to not wear a seatbelt or puff
cigarettes and gorge myself? Is there a problem with freedom? I say no, it's
a problem of socialism. There is absolutely no moral case for government's
taking another American's earnings, through taxes, to care for me for any
reason whatsoever. Doing so is simply a slightly less offensive form of
slavery. Keep in mind that the essence of slavery is the forceful use of one
person to serve the purposes or benefit of another.
Allowing government to be in the business of caring for people
for any reason moves us farther down the road to serfdom. After all, if
government is going to take care of us, it will assume it has a right to
dictate how we live. Right now, the government has successfully attacked
cigarette smokers. They are well on their way, with the help of crooked
lawyers and judges, to doing the same thing to fast-food companies, soda
manufacturers, candy-makers and other producers of foods deemed fattening or
When these people finish with food producers, what might be next
on their agenda? Numerous health studies have shown that sedentary
lifestyles and lack of exercise also contribute to healthcare costs. I
wouldn't be surprised at all if America's neo-Nazis call for government
mandates requiring morning exercises, biking, jogging and fitness facility
You say, "Williams, that's stretching it!" That's exactly what
an American who might have died in 1950 would have said about the attack on
smokers and fast-food restaurants.