Can the Government Dictate Our Lifestyle Activities?

By ROGER STARK  | 
Oct 20, 2020
BLOG

Health care spending continues to increase. The political left advocates for either incremental steps toward or complete government-run, socialized medical care in the U.S.

If government bureaucrats control our health care spending through a nationalized health care system, do they then have the right to dictate our lifestyle choices? Seventeen percent of Americans smoke. (here) More than 70 percent of Americans are over their ideal weight and 30 percent are classified as obese. (here)

The government already limits some high-risk activities. For example, most states mandate that motorcycle riders must wear helmets.

Taxing cigarettes or completely banning their use, while politically difficult, could be accomplished. Dictating peoples’ eating habits would be much more problematic. Yet being overweight contributes to a number of severe medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

If someone else is paying for our health care, personal responsibility doesn’t matter to the individual – unless who ever pays for our medical care dictates what we can and cannot do or eat. This seems extreme, yet some communities already ban large, sugary drinks. It is a relatively short step to outlaw all sugar products or other non-essential food products such as chips and pizza. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities are requiring face coverings. This is an emergency situation and will hopefully come to an end soon.

Ever increasing health care spending is on a trajectory to require some type of major reform. If the country elects to nationalize our medical delivery system, bureaucrats may very well dictate our lifestyle choices to limit health care spending.