Gun-Control Today; Fat-Control Tomorrow?

Tyler Durden's picture

Leaving the highly sensitive topic of "gun-control" aside for the time being, one can't help but wonder if it isn't time that the US government, seemingly hell-bent on regulating virtually everything in its quest to prove (to itself?) that America's population can no longer be trusted with making any responsible decisions on it own (and in the process becoming even bigger), shouldn't be more focused on "fat-control" instead. Why? Because while guns may or may not kill people, the bottom line is that of the 32K or so death attributed to firearms, roughly 20K, or two thirds were suicides, meaning firearm-based homicides were 11,015 in 2010. Putting this number in perspective, every year some 935,000 Americans suffer a heart attack, and 600,000 people die from some form heart disease: 1 in every 4 deaths. Net result to society: the cost of coronary heart disease borne by everyone is $108.9 billion each year. And of all proximal factors contributing to heart disease, obesity and overweight is the main one. But of course one can't make a media spectacle out of 600,000 hospital wards where people quietly pass away, in many cases due to a lifetime of ill decisions relating primarily to food consumption. In fact, some estimate that obesity now accounts for one fifth of the total US health-care bill (the part of the budget which no amount of tax increase can offset). Which is why if the topic of gun-control has managed to promptly tear the country into two (or three, or more), just wait until fat-control (far more than the recent tepid overtures into this field such as Bloomberg's NYC sugary soda ban) rears its ugly head and sends the already polarized (and weaponized) US society into a state of agitated hyperflux.

Some useful observations on this topic from The Economist:

IN 1937 George Orwell suggested that “changes of diet” might be more important than “changes of dynasty or even of religion”. Now he is being proved right in a way he might not have expected. Having spent millennia worrying about not having enough food, mankind’s main concern is now eating too much (see our special report on obesity).


The story of human health in the past few decades is a broadly encouraging one. Life expectancy has increased—globally, by 12 years for women and 11 years for men from 1970 to 2010. But greater longevity means that people spend more years chronically ill (see article). Obesity makes things worse by raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease, strokes and some cancers. In much of the world, being too fat is now the single largest driver of sickness.


In 2008 obesity rates were nearly double those of 1980. One in three adults was overweight, with a body-mass index (BMI) of 25 or more (at least 77kg for a man 175cm tall); 12% were obese, with a BMI of at least 30. In America, ever the world leader, about two-thirds of adults were overweight in 2008. But Britain lumbered close behind, with six in ten too fat. The problem is not confined to rich countries. Thanks to economic growth, people around the world are eating more food. Workers burn fewer calories at their desks than in the fields. Even in China, one in four adults was too fat in 2008. In Brazil more than half were. Obesity rates in Mexico, Venezuela and South Africa matched those of America. The Pacific islands and Gulf states are home to some of the world’s fattest people.


For those (like this newspaper) who believe that the state should generally keep its nose out of people’s private affairs, obesity presents a quandary. “A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits,” Orwell pointed out; “an unemployed man doesn’t…You want to eat something a little bit tasty.” If people get great pleasure from eating more than is good for them, should they not be allowed to indulge themselves? After all, individuals bear the bulk of the costs of obesity, quite literally. They suffer at work, too: their wages are often lower and, in America, some employers also make fat workers pay more for health insurance.


Yet in most countries the state covers some or most of the costs of health care, so fat people raise costs for everyone. In America, for instance, a recent paper estimated that obesity was responsible for a fifth of the total health-care bill, of which nearly half is paid by the federal government. And there are broader social costs. The Pentagon says that obesity is shrinking its pool of soldiers. Obesity lowers labour productivity. And state intervention is justified where it saves people from great harm at little cost to themselves. Only zealots see seat-belt laws as an affront to personal liberty. Anti-smoking policies, controversial at first, are generally viewed as a success.

So which is it: state intervention? Or, as the Economist correctly asserts for once: individual liberties where people have no choice but to experience the consequences of one or more of their own wrong decisions? But what happens when the entire state is already broke from pre-funding generations of precisely these bad decisions, and there is nothing left in the state's piggy bank for those who wish to behave prudently and sensibly? The Economist has some further thoughts:

In the absence of a single big solution to obesity, the state must try many small measures. Governments, some of which already intervene a lot in the first few months of people’s lives, should ensure that parents are warned of the dangers of overfeeding their babies. Schools should serve nutritious lunches, teach children how to eat healthily and give them time to run around. Urban planners should make streets and pavements friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians. Taxing sugary fizzy drinks—which unlike fatty foods have no nutritional value—and limiting the size of the containers in which they can be sold may work. Philadelphia and New York, for example, have implemented a range of such policies, and have seen child-obesity rates dip ever so slightly.


There is a limit, however, to what the state can or should do. In the end, the responsibility and power to change lie primarily with individuals. Whether people go on eating till they pop, or whether they opt for the healthier, slimmer life, will have a bigger effect on the future of the species than most of the weighty decisions that governments make.

Just like in the sensitive issue of gun-control, there is no easy, or definitive answer when it comes to the world's most overweight nation. Perhaps, however, the best clue to what should happen comes from the WSJ's interview with the 107 year old Irving Khan, one of Wall Street's oldest investors and Ben Graham's research assistant, who made the following remark on unwholesome lifestyles: "Millions of people die every year of something they could cure themselves: lack of wisdom and lack of ability to control their impulses."

And that's really it. Sadly, the government, in its encroaching desire to become the world's nanny state par excellence, already believes it can offset everything else, including human stupidity and impulse control. That it can't will become very apparent in time, but only when everyone finally wakes up from the 150 year old dream that started with Bismarck's 'Welfare State' utopia, and sadly ends in bloodshed. With or without gun control.

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Insideher Trading's picture

We need to ban cars. Cars kill.

DosZap's picture

meaning firearm-based homicides were 11,015 in 2010

If Drug Dealers killings, and Gang Bangers were removed from that #, it would be cut in HALF.

FeralSerf's picture

How many of those 11,015 homicides were caused by the guns in the hands of law enforcement?

Kitler's picture

NRA says if only the kids had been armed this tragedy needn't have happened.

macholatte's picture



A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
-U. S. Constitution,

I have a very strict gun control policy: if there's a gun around, I want to be in control of it.
Clint Eastwood

I am in support of the NRA position on gun control.
William J. Clinton

Gun control means being able to hit your target.
Michael Badnarik

Gun control means control. It means control for the government and the government starts controlling the people.
Luke Scott

For target shooting, that's okay. Get a license and go to the range. For defense of the home, that's why we have police departments.
-James Brady

Arms are the only true badge of liberty. The possession of arms is the distinction of a free man from a slave. -Andrew Fletcher, 1698

Never Forget, even for an instant, that the one and only reason anybody has for taking your gun away is to make you weaker than he is, so he can do something to you that you wouldn't allow him to do if you were equipped to prevent it. This goes for burglars, muggers, and rapists, and even more so for policemen, bureaucrats, and politicians.
-Alexander Hope

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

-Thomas Jefferson

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
-Benjamin Franklin, 1759



Bleeding Fart's picture

Wow, cuz you know, technology hasn't changed since the late 1700's.

2nd Amendment was written in a vastly different society with a different technology level/information culture. It can be updated for the betterment of all.

The deterrence of a 'well-armed populace' was certainly a factor in the thinking of the state; that is, before tanks, jet fighters, nuclear weapons, body armor, unmanned aerial vehicles, control of information to the masses, fiat finance and anything else the state has more access to than an individual or group of individuals. Given that, it's organizing on a social level, rather than individual arming that is more effective.

Please join us in the 21st century. It's not perfect, but we have running water and decent sanitation facilities.

A Lunatic's picture

And accordingly, the government should be in control of all modern advancements in communication.

Bleeding Fart's picture

I'm certainly not advocating control of all firearms, just sensible legislation.

derek_vineyard's picture

off the subject, why the fuck isn't zero hedge covering obamas trip to hawaii?  i want 10 minute updates!!

malikai's picture

Feel free to turn your guns in.

Leave everyone else alone.

Bleeding Fart's picture

Did I say that? Or did you just have a knee-jerk reaction.

I've mentioned it elsewhere, but in the Julian Assange case, it isn't that fact that Ecuador is a military threat or that the embassy people are armed that prevents the UK from seizing him immediately. It's a social convention.

Individual arms are not a deterrent to state power.

malikai's picture

Yes, I think you are right.

Do let us know how well your social conventions hold out in the coming years.


By the way, it is not the individual that is ever the threat. It is a group of united individuals that is the 'threat'.

See: Minutemen.

Bleeding Fart's picture

Any group of indivduals has to work under social conventions. That's what 'social' means, interaction with any other human being.

How did those individuals decide to become 'united' in the first place? It wasn't a spontaneous process. It was a social process.

nmewn's picture

Did they talk the British to death or shoot them?

Bleeding Fart's picture

Oh, those quippy quips!

As human beings, yes, the Minuteman did actually talk with each other and organize before fighting the British.

nmewn's picture

Before killing and maiming the British until they couldn't go on any longer, is what I think you meant to say?

FEDbuster's picture

"The fiercest serpent may be overcome by a swarm of ants." 

Isoroku Yamamoto
GetZeeGold's picture



Then we shall outlaw ants.


It couldn't hurt.....just sayin.

Short Memories's picture

It seems odd to me that there are so many Pro NRA people here. I doesn't surprise me that there are pro guns and pro gold people however.

The NRA is known as one of the leading lobbyist organisations in the US though and ZH has always been a leader in showing the evils of the lobbyists. Do people think they aren't doing it for profits? that all they care about it civil rights? Yeah, and the church is just a charity organisation too!



malikai's picture

Odd. I haven't seen anyone here going Pro-NRA.

What would make you say that? Furthermore, what does the NRA have to do with anything?

jwoop66's picture

Yeah, why were "we" waiting for them to comment on that school shooting?  I didn't get it. Why did they comment on the school shooting? 

nmewn's picture

It's funny how the human brain one sentence you say the NRA is a lobbying organization (connoting all the "evil" that the word lobbying entails)...then, you admit it's a Civil Rights organization.

Smiddywesson's picture

LOL, I don't think we won a single battle until Germantown, and that wasn't a battle, we just sneeked right up on them redcoats.  

We won the old fashioned way, terrorizing the populace that wouldn't play ball with us, and just plain wearing out the enemy.

This kid's point is everything's changed.  My point is nothing ever changes.  In the past, the political pamphlet was the social media.  Nothing has changed, especially people. 

If the gun control people wanted to refine their argument and say the prohibition for a felon to own a gun is foolish (like G. Gordon Liddy was going to run amuck for his felony conviction) and a more specific prohibition for people with a specific risk factor, such as a wife beater, or a history of gun violence, hey now you're talking, but it will never happen.  They are zealots and just want to ban guns in a mistaken belief that will keep us safe or a misplaced trust in the government.  


sun tzu's picture

Was it George Washington who terrorized the populace or was it the Redcoats? If the Founding Fathers were in fact terrorizing the majority of the populace as you claim, why would they want the 2nd Amendment to arm the very populace they were terrorizing? Freedom requires the government to fear the people. 

kchrisc's picture

"Now that's funny, I don't care who you are"

malikai's picture

Odd. You describe social in the governmental context where treaty dictates process, yet use it in the peer context here.

Where are you going with this?

Bleeding Fart's picture

I'm saying how if you subscribe to the belief that the government has the potential to 'go after you' then you should know that arming oneself isn't going to deter them from that.

malikai's picture

I think you're saying that the people who drone strike schools in asia, ritualistically use DU munitions, are about to put thousands of drones over your head, is facing an economic and social collapse, and gives less than a shit about you or your privacy can give us 'sensible legislation' (regarding anything).

I'm saying this is a bit silly.

GetZeeGold's picture



'sensible legislation'


Have a little bit of what he's smoking and it will all start to make sense.

deeznutz's picture

+1000 Why would the utter fools who are destorying the economy be able to draft ANY kind of law to "Make people 'safe'". Whoever beleives that has shit for brains.

sun tzu's picture

How well did all those fighter planes, tanks, missiles and bombs work in Vietnam? Try that on 100 million armed Americans who can cut off the food, water and fuel to the government and see how well it goes.

How did that social networking do when Stalin killed 30 million people or Hitler killed 15 million people?

Parrotile's picture

Try that and the Government will inform the masses via their favourite MSM that those attempting this disruption are terrorists, "bent on destroying your American way of life".

Worked just fine for Goebbels - and it'll work just as well for the Government of the day.

Tell the masses that their way of life is threatened - and you've seen just what happens in the past week.

Tell 'em that their TV / YouTube / Mobile Phone access may be inpaired and the Government will be guaranteed a multimillion army to do their bidding.

malikai's picture

That would be the greatest gift to the rebels ever imagined.

One of the problems of today is the inability to differentiate who is on what side.

Immediately upon your events, the lines would be clear. People would face the choice of sides and instantly everyone would know who is on what side.

deeznutz's picture

The 'media' can also be taken out. Sop many ways to distrupt IP packets, etc...

nmewn's picture

"...just sensible legislation."

I could have sworn murder was already against the law.

Bleeding Fart's picture

Though popular on the Internet, snark does not make for good arguments.

nmewn's picture

Describe your idea of "sensible legislation" for me then.

mkkby's picture

Here's some more snark.  Let's just ban what ever we're afraid of.  Look how well that worked with prohibition and the war on drugs.  Yep, drugs are gone and no gangster dominated black market anywhere to be found!

Sheeple NEVER LEARN.  NYers letting Blooney get away with banning soda pop.  I can't even think of an appropriate comment on that.

nmewn's picture

I did notice he offered no "sensible legislation" ;-)

House full-a-people...seeya.

Cistercian's picture

Here is a fun thought experiment.Suppose someone steals a nuclear weapon and sets it off in DC.Do you really think TPTB would insist on a nuclear weapons ban then?

 I don't think so!


mkkby's picture

+1 for dreaming the way I do.

sun tzu's picture

TPTB won't ban anything for themselves. They and their cronies are above the law.

See 0bamacare on how Congress, certain megacorporations, and the unions are exempt.

MiguelitoRaton's picture

Times change, human nature does not. The Second amendment was written to protect the people from human nature.

Bleeding Fart's picture

And how human nature plays itself out has definitely changed since with the technology we have. Individual arms do not deter state power. And please don't mention 'rifles and IEDs' in Iraq/Afghanistan. It isn't those weapons that are deterring the government from those wars, it's the popular reaction at home.

The 2nd Amendment was written with misplaced commas in a time without standardized conventions on punctuation.

centerline's picture

Jesus.  Your bleeding out from down votes.  Time to pack up the bag and take the show somewhere else.  You really haven't a clue on any of the issue/things you are mentioning.

cherokeepilot's picture

One word to describe the nitwit: TROLL

Harbanger's picture

It takes a lot of pounding before you get a bleeding fart...sorry, that was sick.

sun tzu's picture

Why has the popluar reaction turned against those wars? Could it be the tens of thousands of dead and maimed American soldiers? Could it be that the enemy could not be defeated after 10 years?

If the Iraqis and Afghans had turned in their weapons and rolled over, the banksters would be their overlords right now.

Navymugsy's picture

So your contention is that the second ammendment is amphibolous therefore, we should ignore it. There are tons of fourth tier law schools out there waiting for your application.

NumberNone's picture

"Just sensible legislation' what you are implying is that if we ban certain weapons you will be back in here when the next shooting happens to celebrate the fact that only 7 children were killed instead of 20.  You will declare your policies a success?  Quit peddling your moderate bullshit.  You want to ban all guns...period.


In regards to your comments on technology changes since the 2nd amendment was written, I find it funny that guns are the only technology in question.  I'm certain if you went to the founding fathers and told them that within 250 years we would have an uneducated populace that spends its time simulating murder and watching murders and a media that gives instant fame to the persons that act out what they would probably be the 1st amendment that they would amend.