Despite claiming to loathe the centralised bureaucracy of New Labour, the Coalition seems to be creeping ever closer to similar such measures. On the advice of top London oral surgeons, nutritionists and doctors, they are proposing a blanket tax on unhealthy foods.
This isn’t the first time that politicians have tried to address the issue. They have previously called for restrictions on when advertisements for unhealthy could be shown, for higher taxation and, in some extreme cases, total bans or rationing. This time however, the slant is very much focussed towards children. Britain’s childhood obesity issues are swiftly becoming a source of national shame and many prefer not to talk about the possibility of joining their American cousins in the malnutrition club. That would be fine, if it wasn’t turning into a massive problem. Recent figures suggested that a staggering 1 in 4 children in Britain are obese. Not only will this have a big impact on their lives, affecting self esteem and health, but it will also cost the NHS billions. Even now healthy gurus and libertarians are fighting a pitched battle over the issue.
To the latter, limiting the personal choices of individuals is a disgrace, an example of government interference gone too far. If the Coalition steps in to try and curb these issues, they are basically imposing their will on the people, saying that they know better and therefore they will shape people’s lives accordingly. That’s a worrying state of affairs, and relies on rhetoric that is found in almost every dictator state. It’s also fundamentally against the decentralised approach to government that the Conservatives were elected on, so many backbenchers fear that pushing such draconian reforms through will damage the party’s chances at the polls.
On the other side, there are those that are staggered by the blasé approach being taken by many people. They simply cannot believe that responsible parents would ignore the advice of experienced London oral surgeons and doctors, that they would let their children’s health suffer as a result of some misguided belief in self determinism. They argue that people have had plenty of time to exercise their right to complete free will on the issue, and they have abused their power. Instead of teaching their children good nutritional practices, they have let them grow fat and lazy. It’s now reaching a very dangerous point for society, a tipping point where the government must act in order to prevent an epidemic.
Neither side is able to put forward a definitive argument. Those in favour are often floored by the simple matter of alcohol, something else which is dangerous in large quantities, damaging the nation’s health and costing the NHS vast sums of money. Should that not be more heavily taxed and regulated? Those that believe in consumer freedom struggle with the fact that an increasing size of the nation will have definite impacts on general taxation and a variety of other factors. Their desire for universal self determinism runs into sticky issues when confronted with the fact that people have not used their free will in a beneficial way- many are abusing it and expecting others to foot the bill. Given the substantial division of opinion in this matter, it seems like this is an issue that will rage on and on.
Elleven Dental Oral Surgery