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3 notes, one obvious the others not so much:

  1. When you smoke near others you are causing harm. Smoking is not only and individual issue.

  2. In countries where there is free health care, your unhealthy options have costs to others. A simple solution would be to include a tax on all problematic items. I see many advantages on this:
    a. extra sources for funding health
    b. you still have total freedom, but there is some pressure: a good balance between the 2 extremes.
    c. some highly caloric/low quality food is cheaper than good quality food. Taxing the first to, say, fund the second would be a away to equalize prices and remove the competitive advantage (price) that low quality food has (especially for low income individuals).

3. We still have lots of radical puritanism going around and nobody seems to notice: Think about being (not) able to go around naked in public spaces. People seem to spend to much time defending liberties of things that actually have a few problems and very little expanding the scope of liberties that have no cost (or very little). We still live in societies which see the human body as disgusting, and nobody seems to think that that is an important problem.

by t-------------- on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 03:21:00 PM EST
The basis of all addiction is disengagement. We couldn't have our current economic system if it wasn't systematically disengaged, so it's not a surprise that it runs on addictions, and runs addictions.

Saying that this is puritanical is actually an off-the-shelf right-wing talking point. Supposedly it's the opposite of 'personal freedom' - but as with all right wing talking points, that really just means the freedom to have your fix without having to consider other people, except on the days when you remember they're there.

'Growth addiction' is much, much more dangerous than chemical addiction, and a much bigger issue that hardly ever gets talked about in the mainstream.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 03:55:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A fun thesis, but entirely ignorant of what addiction is.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 04:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How many addicts like their engagement with reality just the way it is and aren't trying to change it?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 04:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"engagement with reality" is a seriously fragile foundation to be resting an argument upon - I think.  

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 04:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a seriously fragile foundation to be resting an argument upon

Speaking of reality or any one's awareness (and "engagement") with it: Arendt described "reality" best, I think, simply by acknowledging in her works the mechanical (or perceptual) limitation of verification, essential to trust (equilibrium).

I cannot know what I cannot see. (tautology)

I cannot see what I do not know.

I cannot know what is not here.

Reality --events both worldy and mental-- is ahistorical and atemporal. One cannot be everywhere at once in order to verify what is true, what is false. The true fact one cannot verify everywhere at once does not preclude reality. It merely necessitates entrusting another. That is to assign verification of a person, process, or thing
by one's self to one or more agents (person, process, or thing).

All rationality --justified true belief-- depends on this "fragile" foundation of verification in order to explain itself to one's self.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 03:18:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really. It just means being aware of predictable consequences.

Addicts and libertarians alike either don't believe in consequences, don't want to believe in consequences, or believe that consequences don't apply to them.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:37:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, as my guru says: 'Life is a Learned Behaviour Disorder'.

To the extent that we are all behavioural 'addicts', yes, being behavioral means that you don't like change.

And all of us tend to the behavioural. It's what the conscious mind really likes - logical predictability. But that is an imposition upon reality. Perfectly valid, of course, but a limit on the capacity of the mind to feedback on itself. Another word from my guru (who is, of course, me)  - If you can't laugh, you can't live'.

Thus Surrealism...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, some find a cobbled equilibrium in self medicating that seems better than the alternatives, but probably everyone has a secret -or not- desire to be strong enough to resist temptations, especially those so unpopular!

some people are just plain comfortable in their misery.

fear of change, and masochism have their roles in this mix.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 03:58:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saying that this is puritanical

Could you clarify what 'this' is?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 04:41:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy: We couldn't have our current economic system if it wasn't systematically disengaged ...

what do you mean by this?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 06:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean systematically disengaged from physical consequences. You can keep using oil, fishing, chopping down rainforests, and using raw materials without recycling, because - well, you just can.

Mercifully that's started to change over the last year or so. But not all that long ago there were diaries all about economists making ridiculous statements about how markets would always provide, because that's what markets do.

And there are still those on the right who see any suggestion that they consider consequences at all as a personal insult.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US alcohol consumption has long been celebrated in paid, feel-good lifestyle adverts.  To that recently has been added all sorts of adverts for prescription drugs from ED drugs to dry eye drugs.  Both types of ads are important to cultivating and maintaining product sales.  Tobacco ads have been significantly curtailed but still exist in some forms.  To me the prescription drug ads are at least as pernicious as the alcohol and tobacco ads as they are a significant part of the means whereby Pharma extract money from the population, a large part of it funded out of Medicare.

I would suggest a tax on all such advertisements and disallowing them as business expenses.  It should be at least a tax of 100% of the cost of creating and running the ad, but some multiple if required so as to generate sufficient revenue to cover the cost of the consequences of the use of the product.  These are probably the greatest for alcohol, as lives are lost and/or mangled as a routine, collateral consequence of excessive use of alcohol.  Another benefit is that it might help sober up Joe Sixpack.  Unanesthesized, he or some of his cohort might find more to contemplate and correct and less to celebrate about their condition.  

Perhaps this is farfetched, but it is a dream of mine, and it is certainly more benign than raising revenue by legalizing lotteries and gambling.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:45:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oho - you just disturbed a nest of bees ;-) Run for your life!

Our whole W*estern society is devoted, in one form or another, to the alteration of the mind by the narrowness of behaviour caused by the intake or provocation of biochemicals. There is only one way, in the long run, to counteract becoming predictable, and that is to consistently seek the unpredictable - even, paradoxically, biochemically.

It is very hard to run any society as a leader, without using or misusing some of this biochemical know-how. Joe Five-Brains might be a better icon of the future than Joe Six-Pack.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:57:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No! No!  I have no desire to suppress the sale of alcohol or other intoxicants, quite the contrary.  I would like to see the war on drugs called off for the very bad idea that it is, to see cannabis, in all its forms legalized and to see other psycho-active drugs made available under appropriate, (to me,) circumstances.  I only make the modest proposal that each drug should pay its way in terms of its negative effects on others.  That would likely make cannabis cheaper than beer, with correspondingly beneficial effects on Tom Two Toke.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:58:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps this is farfetched

Temperance campaigns are certainly odd expressions of normative expectations (not continent behavior), and resulting legislation by state in the US exercises doctrinal legal realism (don't stop reading at wiki) to the limit of public safety.

Personal point of reference: Some twenty-years ago a few of my clients were a number of beer, distillery, or wine importers. Advertising media was statutorily limited to print and event (promo) media. I've been out of the loop for ten years or so (I am not in the life and not regular teevee audience). Have you notice as have I over the last five years or so increasing frequency of broadcast commercials (00:30) of beer, spirits, and liqueurs, sanctioned by a "mice type" disclaimer to "drink responsibly"?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 03:54:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Firstly, I must say I enjoyed your recent diary on computational simulation, given my own aesthetic and practical foundations of reasoning and despite my own limited, technical knowledge of computer programming to model complex physical laws ("truths").

Now, given your skepticism expresse therein, I must wonder why you accept the assumption ("costs") as if politically expediency and tyranny alone justified an expression of "costs" whose terms are either unknown or values indeterminant.

In countries where there is free health care, your unhealthy options have costs to others.

May we agree?: Cost is a financial metric, expenditure of currency; "Externality," or "spillover," is an economic metric, immeasurable, or not measured, consumption in financial terms, of a person, process, or thing ("asset") that contributes to money velocity (expenditures or profit (loss)). According to this ideology ("schema") being is simply put, that is foregoing various tenets of religous dogma, a social and societal asset. Being is a fundamental constituent of "society" and term in mathematical expressions of society (hohoho.pdf), a so-called national economy.

The "cost" of maintaining ("maintenance," a legal term therefore prosecutable fiduciary duty) one life of a "person" (human or tax entity) presupposes (1) life --not DEATH-- is an asset; (2) involuntary and voluntary applied mechanical processes and things that "capitalize" rents on life and death; (3) a person's desire to be.

Some persons do not desire to be. Some claim to renounce that desire, arguing before some tribunal --a "panel"-- either their fear of death or love of venality but never their pleasure ("addiction"). So society institutionalizes means to conserve and to exploit (dispense "incentives" to live, which is to train the living who "benefit" rather than the "dead man walking" who do not benefit) in dogmatic (financial or ecclesiastic) terms of being.

More bizarre, intellectually speaking, institutional agents in the US promote "full employment" among the living (another financial metric) as if BIRTH/DEATH rates of the LABOR FORCE --had no ratioinale or mathematical dependecy to obtaining real purchase power. Here no one imputes labor market conditions to profit sharing ("productivity").

Think about these ideological assumptions relate to voters' preferences in leadership.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 01:17:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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