Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Monday, August 25, 2008

What Happens When Government Provides for Everything

TIMESONLINE: Grossly overweight children may be taken from their families and put into care if Britain’s obesity epidemic continues to escalate, council chiefs said yesterday.
“The nation’s expanding waistline threatens to have a devastating impact on our public services. It’s a huge issue for public health, but it also risks placing an unprecedented amount of pressure on council services.”
— Councils are spending tens of thousands of pounds widening crematorium furnaces to deal with fatter corpses

— Standard coffins are between 16 and 20ins wide (40-50cm) but coffins twice that size are being ordered to fit larger bodies

— Lewisham Council has ordered a 44in cremator from America and is taking coffins from the Midlands. A furnace has just been installed at King’s Lynn, Norfolk, for coffins a metre wide and Blackburn is to buy a 42in cremator

— New ambulances have been introduced across Wales with special equipment for fat patients, including a winch and an extra wide strengthened stretcher

— Fire services are threatening to charge police or hospitals a fee if they are called in to move grossly overweight people out of dangerous buildings

— Many schools are having to adapt their furniture to cope with heavier, wider children. Each larger table and chair costs about £30

In fairness, the article offers other rationales for the proposed action, some of them quite sensible, but the fact that the author felt the need to point out and specify obesity's impact on the cost of "public services" is illustrative. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for people (be they obese or not) paying their "fair share" for whatever they get in life, but we must remember that when government provides everything from our healthcare to our coffin, it can justify even the most serious impositions on liberty based simply on the "cost to society."

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