Obamacare is going to be expensive on a scale unknown to European health systems. Look around you. Americans are not Swedes. Obesity rate in the United States: 36 percent; Sweden: 9.7 percent; Japan: 3.2 percent; China: 2.9 percent; India: 0.7 percent. Ours is a country where 78 million people (or about the entire population of Germany) are classified by the Centers for Disease Control as “obese” — including over 40 million women. If 40 million women have it, isn’t that a “women’s health” issue? Perhaps even a bigger “women’s health” issue than the right of thirtysomething students to free contraception? It’s the first thing the average American of, say, 1950 would notice if you catapulted him forward from his mid-century Main Street to today: not how amazing all these computer gizmos are, but how large and sick today’s Americans look.
As George Will pointed out this week, nanny-state solutions (such as Michelle Obama’s current campaign to get us all nibbling organic endives) don’t work: Overweight kids in schools with high-calorie junk food, 35.5 percent; overweight kids in schools that banned all the bad stuff, 34.8 percent. Indeed, the bloating of government, of entitlements, of debt, and the increase in obesity track each other pretty closely over the last four decades. If all those debt graphs showing how we’ve looted our future to bribe the present are too complicated for you, look out the window: We are our own walking (or waddling) metaphor for consumption unmoored from production. And, to the Chinese and many others around the world pondering whether America has the self-discipline to get its house in order, a trip to the mall provides its own answer.
So we can’t fight a war in Afghanistan, but we can fight a “war on women” that only exists in upscale liberal feminists’ heads. We can’t do anything about exploding rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but, if you define “health care” as forcing a Catholic institution to buy $8 contraception for the scions of wealth and privilege, we’re right on top of it. And above all, we’re doing it for the children, if by “doing it” you mean leaving them with a transgenerational bill unknown to human history — or engaging in what Boston University’s Larry Kotlikoff, speaking at the International Institute of Public Finance in Dresden last week, called “child fiscal abuse.”
If that sounds a trifle overheated, how about . . . hmm, “legitimate fiscal rape”? No? Then let’s call it a “war on children.” Unlike the “war on women,” it’s real.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Child Fiscal Abuse
Mark Steyn's Saturday morning columns on NRO are a must-read. Today he hits the nail on the head so hard he drives it through the board and into the flooring below. It's hard to even figure out what to highlight, it's all good: