Thursday, February 25, 2010

Benefit to society

I was taking part in a conversation about smokers and how much their diseases cost the society.

For the record, I don't agree that the mere fact of having public health care should oblige everyone to be on their best behavior, healthwise. For one thing, almost nobody ever really is, and the whole thing is just an occasion to complain about other people's sins. Everybody wants to tax the neighbor's unhealthy behavior, and starts complaining about health fascism when somebody is trying to tax their own. (Well, not strictly everybody - demanding taxes on unhealthy behavior is the habit of a certain kind of people - the kind who want to tax traditional sin, such as alcohol, tobacco, and sometimes unhealthy food, whatever that is supposed to mean. I have never seen them demand taxes on dangerous sports, suicide attempts, or giving birth to genetically suboptimal children when a genetic problem is known in advance. Ugh, maybe I shouldn't give them ideas.)

But I digress. The conversation was mostly between people who seemed to believe that one does in fact have an obligation, and part of them pointed out that smokers don't really cost all that much to society, because they die younger.

I've heard this argument many times before. it always makes me shudder to think that in many otherwise normal people's minds, the concepts of "benefit to society" and "cost to society" do not, in fact, include years of life of its members.

3 comments:

Simo said...

Those who oppose other people's smoking would probably love to calculate lost years of life as a cost to society, but it's a bit difficult when smokers themselves make the conscious decision to shorten their own lives. It's the smokers who indicate that the final few years of their lives are not very valuable.

Vera said...

They don't in fact make a conscious decision to shorten their own lives. They make a decision to take the risk, but it doesn't mean that they want to die, or that their lives have no value.

假日的 said...

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