Consequences of health planning

Anyone who has been around someone who is trying to quit smoking knows the common effects: increased appetite and irritability. Therefore, the headline of the April 17 AFP-JIJI article “Australians smoking, drinking less, but getting heftier, more anxious” should come as a surprise to no one.

Such is the flaw of central planning. Frequently, planners will fail to take into account the possibility that people will react to legislation in ways that undermine the very purpose of the legislation. In this case, the campaign to improve the health of the Australian public by reducing smoking and drinking rates has resulted in an Australian public that is perhaps less healthy (or at least, no healthier) than it was before the campaign.

The question remains: Will these campaigns be acknowledged as failures and then modified or ended? Almost certainly, no. The concept that individuals should enjoy the benefits and bear the costs of their own balance between living long and living healthily doesn’t enter the calculus for proponents of such “nudge” laws.

That unhealthy lifestyle choices cost a socialized medical system large sums of money is not an argument against those lifestyle choices, but an argument against the socialization of health care.

joseph jaworski
taragi, kumamoto

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Starviking

    And the huge profits and bankrupting costs of private health care are a bigger argument against private health insurance.

  • Darryl McGarry

    “Socialised” health care as managed in Australia through the Public sector is a far superior system to one totally private simply because health care costs become affordable for everybody. I think a nation of people who can afford to see the doctor is better than a nation where only those who can pay can afford to see the doctor. Also, I would suggest maintaining a productive workforce across a nation through good times and bad makes good economic sense, too,,in the long run. Anyway, a ‘socialised” health care system is the mark of a First-World nation. National pride is mixed in with the standard of a nation’s healthcare and its spread, as well. Nation’s without a “socialised” healthcare system are regarded as laggards.

    I have yet to hear an argument that robustly outlays the sense of smoking. Smoking does not cause good healh, it detracts. Also, it is a social pollutant. Smokers are often ostracised when they light up in company. Otherwise, people have to endure the smoke and sickening odour and maintain good civil manners and not protest the indecency while in the smoker’s vicinity. It is sensible policy to remove the scourge from the streets.

    The ban on smokng, as it is applied, in Australia has few detractors. It is the same with the new packaging laws for cigarette packs where they now can no longer flourish the bright colours and banner of the manufacturer’s brand that has lured teenagers attracted to the image and thematic associations in the past like with “Kool” or “Marlboro Country” to light up. It is a step forward that other nation’s will hopefully follow.

    If that is the “cost” of “socialised” healthcare then those costs can be easily rationalised.