In economics there exists a measure known as social cost. A social cost exists when an activity generates negative externalities – for example, when a power company causes environmental pollution, or when a plump stranger decides to sit next to you on the bus.
Both of these situations cause irreparable damage, yet only the former is taxed. This tax is known as a Pigovian Tax, and it already exists in a variety of markets.
Should the obesity market be next?
Before we condemn fatties to paying their true price we must examine the facts. Are they a source of negative externalities? And, if so, which ones?
Below I offer a humble list of four costs that healthy, fit members of society must pay as a result of our larger counterparts.
1. Space infringement
Due to their wider nature, obese individuals tend to take up more space.
Yes, I already hear the chunkies mumbling. So do tall people. And muscular people.
But it is not the same. The imprint of your ass and the circumference of your belly is the cause of the distress. Ask yourself: how let-down are you when you navigate your way to your seat on the airplane only to have Big Molly’s flabby love handles strewn halfway across your seat?
2. Weight Considerations
Most furniture is not made to support an elephant.
So what happens when big old Carlos decides to plop his behind down onto your bed? The box spring caves in, never to return to its original position (true story). Yet another cost we all must pay.
3. Health Costs
A lot of money goes into the diagnosis and treatment of obesity induced diseases and illnesses. No, we don’t have to suffer diabetes. But the health insurance we all pay is raised to treat the neighborhood fatty. This cost is not like the others, it is measured in actual dollars and cents.
4. Dating Supply
Dating is a game of supply and demand, just the same as any other market. And skinny people don’t date fat people. This constitutes a decline in the supply of potential partners. We demand compensation!
And So I Conclude
I hope the list above assists you when considering the cost obesity places upon society as a whole. A tax to balance these negative externalities is only logical.
In fact, one was proposed in 1942 by psychologist AJ Carlson to counter some of the externalities listed above as well as to provide more food for the war effort. Denmark and Japan have already begun the official war on fat with limited measures that tax unhealthy foods and waist-sizes.
I propose a tax not upon unhealthy foods, but on waist size or body fat percentage. 1% income tax for every 1% of bodyfat over an obesity determined baseline. Make them pay…
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