A right to eat oneself to death?

I'm a little surprised nobody's invoked "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" yet.

Paleocon wrote:
Dr.Ghastly wrote:

I'm reminded of an episode of The Sopranos where Tony is telling his psychologist (I can't remember her name) about how he was ridiculed by the one-legged Russian woman for whining about trivial stuff compared to the difficulties the people in her old homeland had. The psychologist told him (paraphrased) "Well, don't you think that now we have progressed beyond the struggle of basic need with regard to daily living we have the right to work on other issues?"

It is a triumph of our society that we have all but eliminated the challenges of basic needs. But instead of filling the void of those challenges with pursuits that enrich our society and that our children can be proud of, we diminish ourselves with decadent crap like watching a fat woman eat herself to death (and enshrine her pointless pursuit as some kind of basic "right"). It's a squandering of our collective inheritance and, I, for one find it distasteful.

I'm not really disagreeing with you, and I firmly believe that with the rights we have, such as the right of this lady to stuff her face, there also comes responsibility for our actions. What I don't agree with is the idea that some of our rights are meaningless, or should not exist, because people other than ourselves have it worse off. This lady is completely irresponsible and should burden all the consequences of her actions, not us.

Dr.Ghastly wrote:

I'm not really disagreeing with you, and I firmly believe that with the rights we have, such as the right of this lady to stuff her face, there also comes responsibility for our actions. What I don't agree with is the idea that some of our rights are meaningless, or should not exist, because people other than ourselves have it worse off. This lady is completely irresponsible and should burden all the consequences of her actions, not us.

I had a conversation with my brother in law over the weekend. He is a corporate lawyer for one of the largest companies in America and has a very much more conservative view on things than I do. On this issue, however, we see very much eye to eye.

He said that folks in America love to think that they are entitled to reckless individualism up to the point where they are unable to handle the consequences. Then they demand that someone else (government, evil businesses, their families, etc.) bail them out. We drive gigantic vehicles we can't afford and then demand that the government "do something" about rising gas prices. We insist that eating like freaking pigs is an expression of our individuality and then demand that other people accommodate our "disability". We complain about potholes or crumbling infrastructure and demand that the government abolish taxes.

It's precisely this sort of narcissism and entitlement that should be part of the "rights" discussion. Citizenship should be more than a free membership to a buying club. It should include a shared sense of purpose to enrich the society in which we live.

Paleocon wrote:

I had a conversation with my brother in law over the weekend. He is a corporate lawyer for one of the largest companies in America and has a very much more conservative view on things than I do. On this issue, however, we see very much eye to eye.

He said that folks in America love to think that they are entitled to reckless individualism up to the point where they are unable to handle the consequences. Then they demand that someone else (government, evil businesses, their families, etc.) bail them out. We drive gigantic vehicles we can't afford and then demand that the government "do something" about rising gas prices. We insist that eating like freaking pigs is an expression of our individuality and then demand that other people accommodate our "disability". We complain about potholes or crumbling infrastructure and demand that the government abolish taxes.

It's precisely this sort of narcissism and entitlement that should be part of the "rights" discussion. Citizenship should be more than a free membership to a buying club. It should include a shared sense of purpose to enrich the society in which we live.

But people are entitled to "reckless individualism up to the point where they are unable to handle the consequences". Do you want freedom or don't you?

Sure, they're not entitled to being bailed out of those consequences, but that's a wholly seperate issue.

A third wholly seperate issue is the lack of "a shared sense of purpose to enrich the society in which we live", which would be lovely, but it's an idyllic pipe dream that I don't think has ever existed, nor will in my lifetime.

I agree with you whole-heartedly on an individual level, Paleo; but I'm unsure as to how you could possibly implement a strategy for bringing this about. Isn't it all about parenting? I know my mother always instilled that with increased rights comes increased responsibility, so every time in my youth I had an expansion of privileges I also shouldered additional work and any negative consequences my idiotic decisions wrought. But you can't legislate parenting (aside from abuse). The problem is that we bail people out of their consequences. I think if that ceased, in a generation or two they wouldn't be making such stupid decisions because they know they'd have to deal with the ensuing problems.

Jonman wrote:

Sure, they're not entitled to being bailed out of those consequences, but that's a wholly seperate issue.

I think that's where most of us are going. We know we'll be bailing this fat girl out eventually, and it pisses us off, because we will, and she knows that, and she'll get away with it. No one would strive to be 1000lbs if we required them to pay all their healthcare costs out of pocket or die (assuming no insurance would carry her). More than likely she'll die anyway (even a cold can kill you quickly at 600lbs, even under professional medical care in a hospital) but I'm willing to bet when she goes it will be at a big monetary cost to us (taxpayers). Just like her 30 doctor child birth.

Jonman wrote:

But people are entitled to "reckless individualism up to the point where they are unable to handle the consequences". Do you want freedom or don't you?

Sure, they're not entitled to being bailed out of those consequences, but that's a wholly seperate issue.

A third wholly seperate issue is the lack of "a shared sense of purpose to enrich the society in which we live", which would be lovely, but it's an idyllic pipe dream that I don't think has ever existed, nor will in my lifetime.

The first two are inseparable though, aren't they? It is all too easy to be generous or careless with collective resources. This is precisely why daredevils are required to retain insurance for their public spectacles.

Our society and many others have had lesser or greater degrees of collective buy-in at different points in our histories. I imagine when Goering was dropping gifts on your native England, for instance, a shared sense of purpose was pretty high on the list of English identity. The same could be said about the US when JFK admonished the US to land a man on the moon and bring him safely back.

Shoal07 wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Sure, they're not entitled to being bailed out of those consequences, but that's a wholly seperate issue.

I think that's where most of us are going. We know we'll be bailing this fat girl out eventually, and it pisses us off, because we will, and she knows that, and she'll get away with it. No one would strive to be 1000lbs if we required them to pay all their healthcare costs out of pocket or die (assuming no insurance would carry her). More than likely she'll die anyway (even a cold can kill you quickly at 600lbs, even under professional medical care in a hospital) but I'm willing to bet when she goes it will be at a big monetary cost to us (taxpayers). Just like her 30 doctor child birth.

Pretty much this. She should not get special treatment because of her decisions. Same health care as everyone else (currently, whatever policy she can afford), no state-provided assistant social workers, etc.

People should be allowed all of the reckless freedom they can handle. You don't get bailed out of the consequences. That is the great part about freedom. You are free to run around with scissors, you are free to stab yourself in the eye, and you are free to go buy an eye patch and some Bactine. You are not a child, free to act like a moron until you hurt yourself, then come home and have a mommy-figure take care of you for free.

Paleocon wrote:
Jonman wrote:

But people are entitled to "reckless individualism up to the point where they are unable to handle the consequences". Do you want freedom or don't you?

Sure, they're not entitled to being bailed out of those consequences, but that's a wholly seperate issue.

A third wholly seperate issue is the lack of "a shared sense of purpose to enrich the society in which we live", which would be lovely, but it's an idyllic pipe dream that I don't think has ever existed, nor will in my lifetime.

The first two are inseparable though, aren't they? It is all too easy to be generous or careless with collective resources. This is precisely why daredevils are required to retain insurance for their public spectacles.

I don't believe they have to be inseperable. If my penchant for snowboarding while blindfolded results in me being airlifted off a mountain with all my limbs broken, I fully expect to bear the full cost of that intervention. My risk, my cost.

In the instance of Mrs Wants-To-Be-Huge however, due to the nature of our how the healthcare system works, it's her risk and our cost. We should be decrying the system that forces the costs of her reckless individualism upon the rest of us, not the fact that she has the freedom to do whatever the heck she wants.

Paleocon wrote:
Our society and many others have had lesser or greater degrees of collective buy-in at different points in our histories. I imagine when Goering was dropping gifts on your native England, for instance, a shared sense of purpose was pretty high on the list of English identity. The same could be said about the US when JFK admonished the US to land a man on the moon and bring him safely back.

I'm not sure I buy it. Just because Jerry bombed Mrs Ethelwhite's Olde Eel Shoppe doesn't mean Mrs Ethelwhite and I are united in any purpose other than to not get bombed anymore. I mean, what was the collective buy-in of Blitz-era England? We all agree that being bombed sucks?

I'm not sure I buy it. Just because Jerry bombed Mrs Ethelwhite's Olde Eel Shoppe doesn't mean Mrs Ethelwhite and I are united in any purpose other than to not get bombed anymore. I mean, what was the collective buy-in of Blitz-era England? We all agree that being bombed sucks?

Defeating fascism.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the American people were pretty united around the purpose of kicking the snail snot out of the Japanese.

It's a bit depressing that it is difficult to come up with collective purpose without some existential threat. Even then, you will never get 100% buy in. Prisons are filled with folks who will not share in the collective mores of society under any circumstances. That said, a greater degree of social or civic responsibility than the whole "fcuk society. I'm gonna do what I want." attitude that seems entirely pervasive today has been more normative in my reading of American history.

Jonman wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
Our society and many others have had lesser or greater degrees of collective buy-in at different points in our histories. I imagine when Goering was dropping gifts on your native England, for instance, a shared sense of purpose was pretty high on the list of English identity. The same could be said about the US when JFK admonished the US to land a man on the moon and bring him safely back.

I'm not sure I buy it. Just because Jerry bombed Mrs Ethelwhite's Olde Eel Shoppe doesn't mean Mrs Ethelwhite and I are united in any purpose other than to not get bombed anymore. I mean, what was the collective buy-in of Blitz-era England? We all agree that being bombed sucks?

Also, it's worth keeping in mind that about a day after the war was over Churchill was tossed out on his butt in favor of Labor. According to wiki:

The Labour Party ran on promises to create full employment, a tax funded universal National Health Service, and a cradle-to-grave welfare state, with the campaign message 'Let us face the future.'

So wartime just pushed aside for a moment a huge disagreement among the English population over what constituted the national purpose.

Dr._J wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

Will this woman's lifestyle be a burden on society? Probably. But so do the lifestyle choices of every person on a motorcycle or everyone who thinks rock climbing seems like a good idea or enjoys smoking.

I find parts of this argument flawed. Leaving smoking to the side for the time being, usually when people partake in activities like rock climbing or riding am motorcycle, they practice risk mitigation. Rock climbers don't use dental floss as climbing rope, wear flip-flops, or try to climb a smooth 90° wall on their first attempt. People who ride motorcycles wear helmets, protective clothing, and have a license indicating that they have taken courses, and passed, that teach them how to ride.

Rock climbers I'll give you because I don't know that many, but motorcyclists? Please, I've seen more dudes on motorcycles either with a death wish or just too stupid to believe that they can become road pizza. From my observations, the number of safe motorcyclists seems to be the minority.

I will defend, as someone brought up, a person's right to persue happiness, whatever form that takes (as long as it doesn't hurt someone else).

But I do agree that along with that freedom, people have to own up to the personal responsibility that comes packaged with it. And the personal responsibility part is something in which we Americans have been falling down on of late. I'm not sure what the cause is, the sense of entitlement that parents have been instilling into their kids over recent generations perhaps.

Nevin73 wrote:

But I do agree that along with that freedom, people have to own up to the personal responsibility that comes packaged with it. And the personal responsibility part is something in which we Americans have been falling down on of late. I'm not sure what the cause is, the sense of entitlement that parents have been instilling into their kids over recent generations perhaps.

You think it could be the part of The American Dream where "you can be anything you want when you grow up"? People don't seem to realise that there's an implicit "if you work really hard at it" at the end.

Jonman wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

But I do agree that along with that freedom, people have to own up to the personal responsibility that comes packaged with it. And the personal responsibility part is something in which we Americans have been falling down on of late. I'm not sure what the cause is, the sense of entitlement that parents have been instilling into their kids over recent generations perhaps.

You think it could be the part of The American Dream where "you can be anything you want when you grow up"? People don't seem to realise that there's an implicit "if you work really hard at it" at the end.

I would add to that that there seems also to be a complete disconnect between membership in the franchise of citizenship and any sort of concern over collective well-being. In the past, it was easier to avoid the Tragedy of the Commons by appealing to one's sense of decency. Now, as I have mentioned, the social attitude seems to be that raping the commons for narrow personal gain is a sign of "individuality" and something to be aspired to.

Nevin73 wrote:
And the personal responsibility part is something in which we Americans have been falling down on of late. I'm not sure what the cause is, the sense of entitlement that parents have been instilling into their kids over recent generations perhaps.

This has been said about just about every generation by the prior couple of generations. It began with the pilgrims ("We suffered on the ship and carved a village out of virgin forest- what have YOU done besides enjoy the fruits of our labor?") and won't end until the robots take over ("Okay, young people. We may have screwed you over by giving the terminators plasma rifles with the 40 watt range. You didn't deserve SKYNET").

Funkenpants wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
And the personal responsibility part is something in which we Americans have been falling down on of late. I'm not sure what the cause is, the sense of entitlement that parents have been instilling into their kids over recent generations perhaps.

This has been said about just about every generation by the prior couple of generations. It began with the pilgrims ("We suffered on the ship and carved a village out of virgin forest- what have YOU done besides enjoy the fruits of our labor?") and won't end until the robots take over ("Okay, young people. We may have screwed you over by giving the terminators plasma rifles with the 40 watt range. You didn't deserve SKYNET").

I think it took a particularly steep drop, however, after the elimination of mandatory service. Whereas previous generations saw service to country as a duty one owed in exchange for citizenship, this current batch of completely ingrateful Americans seem to think that the inconvenience of paying taxes is some kind of horrific human rights violation.

*Legion* wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
To fund her massive grocery bill, she runs a website where men pay to watch her eat fast food.

Ugh.

I wish I had gotten an MBA as a second degree. This is just proof that there are underserved markets in f*&ked up things you'd never think of. The first person to get the idea, wins.

You just made me a f*cking rich man, *Legion*.

Paleocon wrote:
I would add to that that there seems also to be a complete disconnect between membership in the franchise of citizenship and any sort of concern over collective well-being. In the past, it was easier to avoid the Tragedy of the Commons by appealing to one's sense of decency. Now, as I have mentioned, the social attitude seems to be that raping the commons for narrow personal gain is a sign of "individuality" and something to be aspired to.

Really? Are we still talking about crazy woman or corporate America?

Rezzy wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
I would add to that that there seems also to be a complete disconnect between membership in the franchise of citizenship and any sort of concern over collective well-being. In the past, it was easier to avoid the Tragedy of the Commons by appealing to one's sense of decency. Now, as I have mentioned, the social attitude seems to be that raping the commons for narrow personal gain is a sign of "individuality" and something to be aspired to.

Really? Are we still talking about crazy woman or corporate America?

Six ----> half dozen

Here's a test scenario:

In this hypothetical scenario, we have someone who has engaged in extraordinarily risky behavior in order to make money off of it. This person enjoyed a certain kind of behavior that contains risks for their long-term health. They found a way to monetize this risky behavior and lived quite well off of the proceeds. Then, when the risk finally caught up with them, they were unable to get around easily, had many chronic medical conditions, and found themselves in pain almost all the time. Because they willingly took on the risk and profited from it in the short term, should be have compassion for this person? Should this person be excluded from any public health care assistance available to them because of their intentional engagement in insanely risky behavior?

spoiler wrote:
[color=white]In this hypothetical situation, the person is a former NFL athlete. You'll find the specifics remarkably similar to Ms. Eat-myself-to-death. Do our fat-bias and health-worship change how we see this? Would an actuary see a difference in the risk factors?[/color]

Oso wrote:
Here's a test scenario:

In this hypothetical scenario, we have someone who has engaged in extraordinarily risky behavior in order to make money off of it. This person enjoyed a certain kind of behavior that contains risks for their long-term health. They found a way to monetize this risky behavior and lived quite well off of the proceeds. Then, when the risk finally caught up with them, they were unable to get around easily, had many chronic medical conditions, and found themselves in pain almost all the time. Because they willingly took on the risk and profited from it in the short term, should be have compassion for this person? Should this person be excluded from any public health care assistance available to them because of their intentional engagement in insanely risky behavior?

spoiler wrote:
[color=white]In this hypothetical situation, the person is a former NFL athlete. You'll find the specifics remarkably similar to Ms. Eat-myself-to-death. Do our fat-bias and health-worship change how we see this? Would an actuary see a difference in the risk factors?[/color]

Not really, no.

Paleocon wrote:
I think it took a particularly steep drop, however, after the elimination of mandatory service.

The concept of mandatory service has only intermittently been a part of the American system. A peacetime draft was in place only during the cold war. I don't see forcing someone to fight the Vietnamese or whoever else the White House has declared "a danger" at any given moment part of core American or democratic values. If anything, it's just as likely to be part of a militarism that leads to greater power to undemocratic institutions.

Dr._J wrote:
People who ride motorcycles wear helmets, protective clothing, and have a license indicating that they have taken courses, and passed, that teach them how to ride.

What this woman is doing is voluntarily engaging in incredibly risky behavior, with little to no regard for the consequences.


Would they wear helmets and have that license if they weren't required by law? Some would. Not all, not by a long shot.

Funkenpants wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
I think it took a particularly steep drop, however, after the elimination of mandatory service.

The concept of mandatory service has only intermittently been a part of the American system. A peacetime draft was in place only during the cold war. I don't see forcing someone to fight the Vietnamese or whoever else the White House has declared "a danger" at any given moment part of core American or democratic values. If anything, it's just as likely to be part of a militarism that leads to greater power to undemocratic institutions.

It's a topic of a different discussion, but there has been no shortage of militarism in the absence of a draft. In fact, with the actual human cost of American militarism restricted to participants in a volunteer, professional military, it has become considerably easier to wage wars of marginal American interest. It has also made it much easier to shout down dissenters for "not supporting the troops".

Oso wrote:
Here's a test scenario:

In this hypothetical scenario, we have someone who has engaged in extraordinarily risky behavior in order to make money off of it. This person enjoyed a certain kind of behavior that contains risks for their long-term health. They found a way to monetize this risky behavior and lived quite well off of the proceeds. Then, when the risk finally caught up with them, they were unable to get around easily, had many chronic medical conditions, and found themselves in pain almost all the time. Because they willingly took on the risk and profited from it in the short term, should be have compassion for this person? Should this person be excluded from any public health care assistance available to them because of their intentional engagement in insanely risky behavior?

spoiler wrote:
[color=white]In this hypothetical situation, the person is a former NFL athlete. You'll find the specifics remarkably similar to Ms. Eat-myself-to-death. Do our fat-bias and health-worship change how we see this? Would an actuary see a difference in the risk factors?[/color]

If your hypothetical athlete refused to wear a helmet or pads for his entire career, then I could maybe get behind limiting his publicly-funded health care. Because he willfully refused to mitigate the risks and take reasonable precautions.

If your hypothetical athlete refused to wear a helmet or pads for his entire career, then I could maybe get behind limiting his publicly-funded health care. Because he willfully refused to mitigate the risks and take reasonable precautions.

Actually, there is some interesting data that shows protective gear greatly increases the risk for serious chronic injury.

It's an older book, but in Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences Edward Tenner ran the numbers and discovered that things like football helmets and pads enable players to hit each other with enough force to really destroy knees, backs, and other connective tissue. When the game was played without "safety" equipment, the risk of concussion, separated shoulders, and broken collarbones kept the force of impacts down.

The same thing happened in boxing. Bare knuckle boxing resulted in a lot of broken hands, but relatively few concussions or brain trauma injuries. Without a boxing glove, the limiting factor in how hard you can hit someone is your finger bones, not your body's muscle mass. Also, skulls are hard, so hitting someone in the head would break a hand and lose the fight. Bare-knuckle boxing matches had fewer knockouts and longer fights with a focus on body-blows and endurance.

So adding in 'safety' features actually increased the long-term risk in contact sports like boxing and football. Pads make possible chronic, debilitating injuries that weren't possible bare headed or bare handed. Helmets and gloves make chronic head injury much more likely while protecting from catastrophic head injury.

Add in painkillers and cortisol injections, and the athlete has probably chosen to do more as much to ruin his health as has the over-eater.

I'm not defending the over-eater. Well, I'm not taking the position that we have the right to avoid the consequences of our actions. I am trying to focus in on the core concepts of the case. I'd like to move the discussion away from "Obese people are leaches on the public and deserve all the abuse they receive and more" toward a less biased discussion of the freedom to undertake risky behavior and what happens when the consequences for those risks is paid for by others.

The NFL player is still left with his life decison after he makes it. Medical care for them is very difficult, as the NFL drops them the second they retire (leave) and no insurance company will pay for any of their "pre-exsisting conditions". They basically have to use their millions to provide their own medical care.

and enshrine her pointless pursuit as some kind of basic "right"

I think you missed Freedom 101. Yes, it's pointless and stupid. No, your opinion doesn't matter. Your opinion and mine are both irrelevant. That's the whole point of freedom, that she doesn't have to give a f*ck what you think.

Oh, and on the health-care issue... this is part of the reason that socializing healthcare is such a bad idea, because it gives people the idea that it's okay to use gifts to control other people's behavior.

If you want to provide healthcare for all, that's fine. But don't you dare use it as a stick to beat people into complying with your view of life.

Malor wrote:
Oh, and on the health-care issue... this is part of the reason that socializing healthcare is such a bad idea, because it gives people the idea that it's okay to use gifts to control other people's behavior.

If you want to provide healthcare for all, that's fine. But don't you dare use it as a stick to beat people into complying with your view of life.

Denying/limiting coverage for self-inflicted injury or disease is not using it as a beat-stick. Think of it like car insurance. You get collision insurance (accidents, standard disease, etc.) rather than comprehensive insurance. Make sure the lines and rules are clear, and I can't see how that is unfair or designed to enforce behavioral standards. You can still buy supplemental insurance, but you aren't given it.