Oh do bugger off

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is calling for fewer fast food outlets near schools and a complete ban on unhealthy food in hospitals


Great
, in order to beat obesity the terminally ill aren\’t allowed to have a bowl of ice cream in their deathbeds. Because, well, you know, rulz is rulz.

Do fuck off.

68 thoughts on “Oh do bugger off”

  1. Those spending long enough in hospital to become obese based on unhealthy hospital food probably have a rather more serious ailment than being fat.

    Those whose visit is a consequence of their obesity one would hope are being advised by doctors to select the healthy option when the meal comes. Though I’m not sure who is going to bar relatives’ entry when they have a Mars bar in their pocket.

  2. There’s no such thing as unhealthy food, just unhealthy eating habits. In fact, the exceptions to general rules on healthy eating habits are pretty likely to be patients in hospitals.

    When I was about 13, I was underweight, lethargic, etc. Turned out I was just too hyperactive for the amount I was eating, so the doctor prescribed a Mars bar a day. The same doctor had (at the same time) banned my dad from eating chocolate or sweets because he was extremely overweight and urgently needed to cut the extra calories out of his diet.

  3. I don’t have a problem with closing fast-food outlets near schools. I firmly believe that the government should protect us from succumbing to our weaknesses; and protect us from companies (big or small) seeking to exploit our weaknesses.

    When I’m wide awake and fresh-faced in the morning, the idea of eating a greasy burger is revolting. But in the evening when I’m tired, possibly drunk, or have just had a hard day, I can occasionally fall prey to the gentle wafting scent of fries from the fast food outlets that I pass on my walk home. My sober self in the morning wishes that the temptation wouldn’t be there in the evening.

    For children the case for defending them from temptation is even stronger since they have weaker will-power. (Any parent will attest to that.)

    We don’t need an outright ban, or even higher taxes, on junk food. We should just make them harder to obtain. We could make serious inroads into the obesity problem if all unhealthy foods in supermarkets were located at the top of a flight of stairs. Instead they put chocolate by the tills to tempt us (and our children) at our weakest.

    To paraphrase Ralph Nader, you’re fighting for the right for your kids to get diabetes.

  4. Andrew, how about exercising some willpower instead of agitating for stuff to be banned? And banned they will be…you don’t think these people are going to stop with just an exclusion zone around schools, do you?

    Their entire strategy is based on a ratchet effect. Each policy is only slightly more draconian than the previous one, and surely nothing to which all goodthinkers could object.

    Except…suddenly 10 years down the line you have some fat fascist nurse demanding to know every detail of your diet or you don’t get treated.

    Wake up

  5. Also, define “unhealthy foods”. Are you including potatoes, butter, Camembert, orange juice (stuffed with sugar), coffee, pasta?

    All of the above are very unhealthy if consumed to excess.

    So, will only the chavs have to climb the stairs or will middle-class favourites be up there to?

    Oh, and tough titties to the disabled but otherwise extremely healthy person who fancies a pound of butter.

  6. Rob, please improve your reading comprehension.
    #1: “how about exercising some willpower”. I explicitly stated that kids have weaker willpower. The subject at hand is fast food outlets near schools.
    #2: That’s a fine straw man you’ve built there, “and banned they will be”. I explicitly stated that we don’t need an outright ban.
    #3: Yes I recognise that we can’t actually put unhealthy foods at the top of a staircase, for all the reasons you identified and more. It was a deliberately facetious example. Nobody is actually arguing for that.
    What we can do, however, is close hot food takeaway shops near schools. They’re incredibly easy to identity since they already fall under planning permission use class A5 (“Hot Food Takeaway”).

  7. Andrew, do fuck off, or else I’ll come round your house, go through your fridge and cupboards and chuck out everything I think is unhealthy.
    Then I’ll get rid of your telly, your car, and your sofa.

    And I’ll do something about your drinking, too. I won’t bring in an outright ban, or even higher taxes, I’ll just make it harder for you to obtain alcohol.

  8. Interested, that’s a great argument, “do fuck off”. I look forward to more intellectual conversations with you.

  9. “given that one in four adults in England is obese and these figures are set to climb to 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women, and 25 per cent of women over the next 37 years”

    I suppose the 25% was supposed to be “children”? Anyway, is this another application of naive extrapolation?

  10. The hefty 10-point plan (why not 2, or 3?) includes: “The NHS to spend at least £300m over the next three years to tackle the serious shortage in weight management programmes ”

    … ker-ching!

  11. Andrew M is a spoof, surely? No-one’s that dim and childlike?

    “Though I’m not sure who is going to bar relatives’ entry when they have a Mars bar in their pocket.”

    Given the recent revelations about the treatment of patients by staff (particularly the elderly patients) I’m afraid there would be those who’d volunteer for the duty only too eagerly.

  12. JuliaM

    I assumed it was either a spoof or trolling since it covered all the bases from a benevolent state protecting its citizens through to thinking of the children. From the subsequent exchanges it seems he’s for real, which is exactly the problem of course, one of the vast number who want the state to hold their hands and are quite convinced that what might suit them will suit everyone. Which is how all this crap gets through, our lords and masters treat us with contempt because so many of us actually like it.

  13. I firmly believe that the government should protect us from succumbing to our weaknesses

    Good for you. I don’t. For a start I don’t want them to decide what my ‘weaknesses’ are. I’ll decide that, thanks.

    I explicitly stated that kids have weaker willpower.

    Yes, they do. That’s what parents are for. And teachers in loco parentis. The answer is not ‘encourage the government to close down businesses’, it’s ‘encourage parents and teachers to do their job.’

    At the risk of being accused of straw-manning I am going to anticipate a possible criticism here: “But parents can’t stop their children from going to these shops in their lunch breaks/on their way home, and the schools can’t keep them in outside of prescribed hours.”

    However, this argument only works if the shops give the food away gratis.

  14. I saw the headline and giggled at the thought Mr Worstal was being a bit moderate in his tone. Just for fun I typed into Google

  15. How does one define “near schools”? Even if you suggest that proximity equals a few hundred metres, you are displaying nothing so much as willful ignorance as to how far children travel to school and how far they will travel to get the sort of thing they like to eat.

    It occurs to me that I’ve never come across a health fascist with an even vaguely sound grasp of how causality works. Sometimes we are told that the desire to consume junk food stems from “advertising and clever marketing”.

    When independent fast food outlets belie this drivel the goalposts are suddenly moved and on comes the Helen Lovejoy gambit “won’t somebody think of the children”. Or, as the asinine Andrew M suggests, people are ‘forced’ to buy chocolate by the strain of queuing for longer than five minutes.

  16. Firstly, it is crony capitalism to limit the number of outlets near schools to any number above zero as the remaining outlets will reap monopoly profits.
    Secondly, they are not talking about preventing a dying man having an ice-cream in hospital (they have already killed that) but banning ice-cream vans near playgrounds. Limits on fast-food outlets at places where children congregate means banning travelling ice-cream vans from near playgrounds (or half-marathon finishes! have picture of two-year-old rewarded for waiting 82 minutes – an awful long time for a two-year-old – for me to finish a half-marathon with an ice-cream). So tell everyone that these fanatics want to ban ice-cream vans.

  17. Thornavis, JuliaM, Sam, Charlie – I’m playing devil’s advocate, teasing out the arguments. We already accept plenty of situations where the state limits our choices for our own safety: having to wear a seat-belt, not being able to buy alcohol at 3am, not selling tobacco to kids, drugs, weapons, dog breeds, and much more. If we accept* the premise that fast food is a contributor to poor health, and we accept* that government should try to nudge children towards healthier lifestyle choices (where it is cost-effective to do so), then what makes fast-food any different to the other things we restrict?

    Firstly, let’s not use the slippery slope fallacy. Any proposed policy can be dismissed if you believe it to be a slippery slope ad absurdum.

    Secondly, let’s stick to the subject. The proposal is to ban fast food shops near schools, nothing more and nothing less.

    Now down to the argument. What the doctors are proposing is the old “nudge” theory. Make the preferred choice the default choice, whether it’s wearing seat-belts or automatically saving for a pension, and most people will choose it. By closing fast food outlets near schools, the default choice is no longer deep fried chips with battered sausage. As with any nudge plan, the “bad” choice is still available elsewhere, so no liberties are infringed upon.

    Specific responses:
    Sam: parents give children money for lunch, that’s why children have cash.
    Charlie (1): Sure, some kids will walk further; that’s their choice. But many won’t walk that extra mile, and their parents will be thankful for it.
    Charlie (2) and Thornavis: “won’t somebody think of the children”. The subject is fast-food outlets near schools. The state has a long-standing role in children’s health. It’s a perfectly cromulent area of discussion.
    Charlie (3): Nobody is “forced” to buy chocolate. But by putting at the tills the supermarkets are making life harder for some parents. Removing chocolate from near tills would be another nudge – it’s still available in the main aisles, so no loss of liberty; but it’s out of reach of the two year old sat in the trolley seat. But I’m in danger of breaking my own rule, not sticking to the subject.

    Come on, let’s hear your best responses. No slippery slopes.

    (*I’m sure many of us don’t accept one or both of these premises, but let’s assume for the purposes of this argument that they are valid.)

  18. Andrew M>

    Sticking to your subject, precisely how far away do you consider to be ‘near’ a school? Round here there’s a school every few hundred metres, whichever direction you go. That’s pretty standard for London’s suburbs.

    The simplest solution to the whole problem is just to introduce the same minimum age for buying food that we have for buying alcohol and cigarettes. Below that age, kids should only be eating what their parents provide for them.

    (Ahem.)

  19. First of all, the suggestion that there actually is a bad choice is question begging (at least when it comes to adults) since it assumes that the purpose of life is primarily its extension, without attempting to prove any such thing.

    For all your rejection of the slippery slope argument, it has to be said that the word ‘nudge’ covers a fairly broad remit by your lights. There is nothing particularly subtle (or liberal) about closing down chicken shops based on location. Equally, though you maintain that no liberties are being impinged upon by such a policy, I am forced to disagree.

    If you want to maintain that fast food outlets are currently too near schools, then you must confess that the enactment of your policy would result in their compulsory closure. Perhaps you think this is not an issue. I can only disagree in the strongest possible terms. One cannot hive off economic freedom from everything else simply by fiat. If you prevent people from buying food in a particular area you have specifically interfered in their economic transactions. In some cases this may be justified (but see below).

    As far as the chocolate near the counters argument goes, you seem to have (willfully?) misunderstood my argument. The point is not that barring this sort of activity would , in itself, be a colossal imposition. Rather it is the case that the logic behind it is unsound and the proposal disingenuous.

    The argument of the nanny state, intellectually incoherent even on its own terms, often seems to be as follows. A) The situation is out of hand and necessitates action B) This proposal is therefore introduced to combat the current crisis. However C) the measure introduced is very small and therefore is objectionable only to pedants. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the proposal is small and harmless and the crisis is great D) we do not propose to introduce any further measures.

    The illogic and the disingenuity of this approach is shown by the experience of smokers. First tobacco advertising was banned (on the premise that it created demand). Then bans for public display of cigarettes came, to be followed by cries for plain packaging. At every stage the argument was monocausal, the reasoning obscure.

    The truth of the matter is that people are complicated. Even if they make what turns out to be the wrong decision it is often hard to understand the reason for their making it.

  20. Andrew M

    I wrote a response but wordpress has eaten it, so I’m going to leave it there as life is too short.

  21. Getting worried about taking up too much space now, but never mind.

    I find it interesting that you reject the slippery slope argument whilst actually employing it in your post. You assert that because we accept the government has a right to interfere in certain areas, we should be prepared to accept it in still more.

    Others may choose to adopt a purely libertarian line on such an argument, maintaining that all government laws aimed at controlling individual behaviour are oppressive.

    However, it is, in point of fact, perfectly possible to reject your line of argument even while accepting other forms of government control.

    I would argue that most of us are, in practice, act utilitarians rather than rule utilitarians. To that end, when we place restrictions on guns or dangerous dogs, we do so because of the fear that they might have a negative impact on the community as a whole. Avoiding this negative impact is deemed (in this country anyway), to be a necessary evil.

    The case is very different when we look at food. Public health is, in itself, a misnomer (except where genuine epidemics are concerned). The free man owns himself, and it is only those who wish to make the NHS into history’s most expensive chain who fundamentally dispute this.

    Arguing that adults should be prevented from living their lives in case it causes increased costs to the NHS merely makes a mockery of free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare; it is the road to serfdom indeed. Indeed (for all that you despise the slippery slope argument), if smokers, drinkers and the overweight are targeted where does that leave extreme sports enthusiasts, or the sexually promiscuous?

    The overarching problem with your arguments is that you don’t seem to understand that, while you pose as a defender of the weak you are an attacker of the innocent. You claim that because you are weak willed when drunk and regretful when sober, so must everyone else be. Therefore because you want limits on your economic freedom everyone else must accept them too.

    On the basis that some children act like adults, you maintain that all adults must be treated like children. I live in London, within easy walking distance of a number of fast food shops (not to mention schools). I don’t tend to frequent them very often, but I fail to see why I should be prevented from doing so by such sloppy logic as yours.

    The final point I want to make is that obesity is fundamentally about lifestyle, not single choices. No single Big Mac ever made a child fat. By banning or restricting the quotidian activities that do in aggregate cause ill health, you will only take away the right of people to live as they see fit. You make a gulag and you call it compassion.

  22. It seems to me there is a simple solution for people like Andrew M that does not impinge on the liberty of the adults.

    The Government sets up a database where Andrew and others can voluntarily register to state they need special help avoiding bad food. They will receive a RFID chip (possibly inserted under the skin so they don’t lose it).

    Whenever he enters an establishment selling the sort of food normal people eat in moderation, an alarm will sound and the patrons can poke Andrew with a low-powered electric stick of the kind used on cattle. Andrew would then stumble back out onto the street, safely avoiding all cheese burgers.

    Surely no one can object to that?

  23. It strikes me that we are quite a long way down some form of slope, slippery or otherwise, when government ‘nudging’ can involve shutting down legitimate businesses.

    I don’t buy into this ‘nudge’ ballocks anyway. It presupposes a level of superior knowledge on the part of government that I not merely suspect, but in some areas actively know to be absent. Oh, to be sure there are some intelligent and talented indivuduals working in government, but spend any time dealing professionally with govt departments as a whole and one starts to distrust the wisdom of allowing them to use ‘grown-up scissors’, let alone trying to psychologically manipulate the country as a whole.

  24. Andrew M seems to be the only adult in the room here.

    What the report actually says about hospital food is

    Food-based standards in line with those put in place for schools in England in 2006 should be
    introduced in all UK hospitals in the next 18 months.

    We all want better food in hospitals, don’t we?

    What it says about fast-food outlets near schools is:

    Public Health England should, in its first 18 months of operation, undertake an audit of local authority licensing and catering arrangements with the intention of developing formal
    recommendations on reducing the proximity of fast food outlets to schools, colleges, leisure centres and other places where children gather

    Now, we all (I think) agree that children are not competent to make all their own decisions. Sam wants to stop them buying junk food by not letting them have any money: the doctors want to discourage them by making it a bit less convenient for them to buy the stuff. My view is that inculcation of good habits is a better way to modify children’s behaviour than force majeure.

  25. Andrew M @ 21

    “We already accept plenty of situations where the state limits our choices for our own safety: having to wear a seat-belt, not being able to buy alcohol at 3am, not selling tobacco to kids, drugs, weapons, dog breeds, and much more.”

    Who bloody accepts it? There’s not one item on that list wasn’t ignored, practiced or freely available a generation or two ago. Amazingly, we mostly survived. Yet after all these years of State intrusion into our personal choices there’s problems we’re told with obesity, drinking, smoking… You ever think there might be a connection here? That the more the State intrudes, the more it wants to intrude. But there’s little sign the intrusion does any good.

    All in favour of that slippery slope business. Let’s tell ’em to fuck off on this. Then start working through a large list of additional fuck offs.

  26. PaulB thinks that the only adult in the room is the one who can’t control his urge to buy a burger and fries.

    Marvellous.

  27. there’s little sign the intrusion does any good

    In the last 40 years smoking among men in the UK has more than halved. And lung cancer mortality among men in the UK has more than halved. In this case there’s every reason to think that correlation implies (lagged) causality.

    If your argument really does amount to no more than “fuck off”, so be it. But otherwise, why is it wrong for the state to provide information to the public about health risks?

  28. If the state limited itself to “provid(ing) information to the public about health risks” I’d be ecstatic!

    Instead we have advertising bans, licensing restrictions, age limits, plain packaging, sin taxes, etc.

  29. PaulB

    It is, as a matter of very important principle, no business of yours whether I smoke or my kids eat burgers. I don’t and they don’t, but that’s our choice.

    I have one life, and how I choose to live it, outside harming others, is no concern of yours.

    My children are my children, not yours, and, while I accept they are not my property, until they reach majority they take direction from me and not you.

    By extension, for ‘you’ read ‘the government’.

    Your nonsense about smoking is irrelevant; many people (not including me) derived great pleasure from smoking, pleasure which is now largely curtailed by people like you because you think the deleterious effect on their health outweighs that pleasure.

    You are scum.

  30. Interested: no, I am not scum. Quite likely neither are you, but you do seem to be ill-equipped for any sort of civilized debate.

    I’ve said very little on this thread other than to report facts. Albeit I did describe Andrew M’s recognition of his frailties as adult: any mature person acknowledges that pleasure in memory is different from pleasure in immediate experience.

    But since you want to discuss my views, I’ll say what I do think:

    – the state should make readily available the best information about health risks. Manufacturers of risky products cannot be relied on to do that.

    – the state should restrict the sale of very dangerous products. That is, there are some recreational drugs so poisonous that their supply for recreational purposes should be illegal.

    – the state should restrict the sale of dangerous products to children.

    – the state should restrict activities which impose loss of amenity, or health risks, on non-consumers. (Smoking in confined public spaces is one such activity.)

    – the state should restrict the supply of recreational drugs which alter behaviour in a way that imposes major risks on non-consumers.

    So no, I don’t want to stop any sane adult from making their own decisions about what risks to take with their own health.

    I wouldn’t describe a burger as a dangerous product. But consistent with the above, I have no objection to a policy aimed at “reducing the proximity of fast food outlets to schools, colleges, leisure centres and other places where children gather”.

  31. PaulB

    “In the last 40 years smoking among men in the UK has more than halved. And lung cancer mortality among men in the UK has more than halved. In this case there

  32. “In the last 40 years smoking among men in the UK has more than halved. And lung cancer mortality among men in the UK has more than halved. In this case there

  33. “In the last 40 years smoking among men in the UK has more than halved. And lung cancer mortality among men in the UK has more than halved. In this case there

  34. “In the last 40 years smoking among men in the UK has more than halved. And lung cancer mortality among men in the UK has more than halved. In this case there’s every reason to think that correlation implies (lagged) causality.”
    Whoa there! And smoking tobacco is a recognised appetite suppressor. And what’s this thread about? Hey, obesity, isn’t it? Couldn’t possibly be a tad of correlation & possible causality here?
    Meanwhile, away from PaulB & co’s world of learned academic reports there’s a real world of sensible people. Whose entirely sensible reaction to proscriptions & nudges is, to repeat, fuck off. Which is why the availability of dangerous products such as guns & drugs are immensely easier, thanks to the diligent work of bansturbators everywhere. The drug using & gun wielding communities give you their profound thanks. So do their suppliers.

  35. I’ll say it again PaulB, only slower: as long as the ‘dangerous products’ I want to use don’t harm you it is none of your fucking business (or the State’s) whether I use them. Where do you get the idea that is is, you arrogant fucking prick?

    You accuse me of being ‘ill-equipped for civilised debate’ because, presumably, I use the odd swear word; another freedom you’d like to eradicate, I guess.

    People like you only need an excuse.

  36. The evidence is that bans reduce supply, increase black market profits, and decrease quality. bis is mistaken if he thinks that marijuana is easier to obtain than tobacco.

    However, the report we’re talking about recommends banning only one thing, which is television advertising of junk food before 9pm. I’m not afraid of a black market in daytime television advertisements.

  37. Interested: I’ll say it again, as slowly as I can. I do not want to stop you using dangerous products.

    It’s not that you swear. It’s that you swear at people in preference to reaching an understanding of your differences with them. You should try doing less guessing what other people think, and more listening to them.

  38. @PaulB ‘Interested: I’ll say it again, as slowly as I can. I do not want to stop you using dangerous products.

    It’s not that you swear. It’s that you swear at people in preference to reaching an understanding of your differences with them. You should try doing less guessing what other people think, and more listening to them.’

    See, I tried that, you cock. You wrote:

    ‘- the state should restrict the sale of very dangerous products. That is, there are some recreational drugs so poisonous that their supply for recreational purposes should be illegal.’

    I sort of assumed that meant you thought that I should be ‘stopped from using dangerous products’ but maybe these words have some other meaning.

  39. I said “very dangerous products”. And emphasized that I meant things which are “poisonous”.

    I had a colleague, the father of an infant child, who walked off fourth floor scaffolding in a rare reaction to a recreational drug. Imagine a drug a thousand times more likely to produce such a reaction. I would not be willing to make such a drug legal, because I can’t imagine being able to defend that policy to the widows. I suppose you can.

  40. PaulB,

    I can see you want to discuss the report, but the previous 40 comments were actually about Andrew M’s proposals. You know, the adult one where he throws thousands of people into unemployment and destroys the livelihoods of hundreds more because he likes chips too much.

    Regarding smoking, this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_tobacco_consumption tells us that smoking also halved in the US between 1966 and 2006. In fact the smoking rate was one percentage point lower in the US.

    Given that the US has not had the same advertising prohibitions that the UK has had, and that almost all of the ones enacted tended to be after the reduction mentioned, I think your correlation is spurious.

  41. This argument is, I think, rather too depressing to continue. PaulB, as is his wont, makes an ultracrepidarian criticism and accuses everybody else of being a child.

    While I admit that I initially called AndrewM asinine (ira furor brevis est), I at least attempted to counter his argument (on reflection not terribly successfully).

    The only point I can’t resist making is that the success or otherwise of the policy on tobacco is not the whole argument. Deaths from smoking would also have been restricted by keeping a register of smokers and denying them expendable income. The question is still whether reactionary legislation is proportionate or not.

  42. …said ‘I’ll say it again, as slowly as I can. I do not want to stop you using dangerous products.’ I thought that meant you DIDN’T.

    But it’s just ‘recreational drugs’ that you consider to be ‘very dangerous’.

    Because you had a friend – a proposition I find in itself unlikely – who walked off some scaffolding, after taking some unnamed drug, on this basis you want to stop me (and the rest of the world) from running the same risk?

    And just to really make your case, you’re ‘imagining’ as-yet-unheard of drugs with properties a scarily specific ‘thousand times’ the strength of this other drug you won’t name.

    Have you ever heard of the boogeyman?

    I’m so glad we’re talking on a scientific basis.

    (I had a mate who died from a rare reaction to eating peanut butter; maybe we should ban that, too?)

    Actually, thanks, but I’ll decide the risks I run, if it’s all the same to you.

  43. @Charlie Suet

    Spot on re PaulB, the world’s most upmarket troll.

    ‘I at least attempted to counter his argument’

    So did I, initially, when I said:

    Andrew, do fuck off, or else I’ll come round your house, go through your fridge and cupboards and chuck out everything I think is unhealthy.
    Then I’ll get rid of your telly, your car, and your sofa.

    And I’ll do something about your drinking, too. I won’t bring in an outright ban, or even higher taxes, I’ll just make it harder for you to obtain alcohol.’

  44. There comes a time when arguing with these hectoring busybodies (all of them so superficially reasonable and accommodating) becomes an exercise in futility, at which point the sole recourse left is to say, “oh do fuck off.”

  45. Interested: I’m discussing the question of whether, as a matter of principle, it should be legal to sell any substance whatsoever as a recreational drug. I say no, because I’m not willing to accept the human consequences. You say yes, because you’re not willing to accept the restriction on your freedom. I think we should be able to disagree about that without getting sweary. My position on this is much more liberal than the British government’s.

    Perhaps a little closer to the original topic is the question of paracetamol sales. People sometimes take deliberate overdoses of paracetamol. Then they have a good night’s sleep and feel fine. The next day, they start experiencing symptoms of acute liver failure. After a week or so they die of it. These are often not people who really want to kill themselves.

    A decade or so ago the government introduced legislation to make paracetamol available only in small packets. The result has been that deaths from paracetamol overdose have fallen by tens of people each year.

    I’m willing to accept the inconvenience and expense of not being able to buy a big bottle of paracetamol, in order to save these lives. Are you not?

  46. PaulB: So you don’t want to ban anything, but you don’t think it should be legal to sell any substance as a recreational drug – goodbye every tobacconist, pub and coffee shop then…

    On AndrewM’s point about Govt duty to protect us from our weaknesses: I note that those societies that insist on women covering up their bodies and faces do so on the premise of protecting the menfolk from temptation. I suppose he would think a curfew and ban on booze, to protect him from 2 factors that he said contributed to his weaknesses, would be disproportionate

  47. PaulB – before it wasn’t the sweariness, it was just that people weren’t reading what you wrote. But then it turned out that they WERE reading what you wrote, YOU weren’t, so now it’s the sweariness.

    I like your logic.

    Since you revealed your position to be, ‘I once had a mate – a father, won’t you think of the children – who walked off some scaffolding because he’d taken a drug and I think I can imagine a drug 1000x worse, so I want to control your life,’ I’m inclined to see you for what you are – a hysterical control freak, dressed up as a rational person.

    Paracetamol? ‘Tens of people’, eh? Well, whoopee do.

    There are lots of things we do that are largely safe but can kill, and do kill thousands each year.

    Do you want to crack down on them a bit, too? How about making pedestrians wear helmets, or having cars made out of marshmallow? That would save thousands.

    But anyway, what happened to your views of my pure fun? What happened to: ‘That is, there are some recreational drugs so poisonous that their supply for recreational purposes should be illegal.’

  48. TomJ: no, that’s not what I wrote.

    Interested: No, I’m not a hysterical control freak. If it were up to me drug laws would be much more liberal than they are. You should leave out the ill-informed ad hominem.

    I mentioned the sad death of my colleague because it’s affected my thinking. I don’t have a list in mind of what should be banned, but I’m not willing to say that nothing should. I’d be very surprised to find that you wanted to take anything I decided to ban.

    The paracetamol question does seem clarify our differences. You think your freedom to buy a large bottle of paracetamol is vital: I think it more important to save peoples lives (hundreds of them since the rules came in, if you think the number worth repeating). I’m not trying to change your mind about this, just to explain why we disagree.

  49. @PaulB

    ‘No, I’m not a hysterical control freak. If it were up to me drug laws would be much more liberal than they are.’

    ‘- the state should restrict the sale of very dangerous products. That is, there are some recreational drugs so poisonous that their supply for recreational purposes should be illegal.’

    Are there two PaulBs, or are you just mental?

  50. And re paracetamol… since you’re trying for the moral high ground, however incoherently, do you think pedestrians should be required to wear helmets? It would be a relatively minor inconvenience, surely. Many more lives would be saved by that than by banning 32-packs of painkillers.

  51. I don’t see your problem. Marijuana and Ecstasy, for example, are drugs which are currently banned but not very dangerous. I would legalize them.

    Since you ask, I think the disruption of requiring pedestrians to wear helmets too great to countenance. Whereas selling paracetamol in small packets is a trivial imposition.

  52. Paul B

    “The paracetamol question does seem clarify our differences. You think your freedom to buy a large bottle of paracetamol is vital: I think it more important to save peoples lives (hundreds of them since the rules came in, if you think the number worth repeating).”

    I’m going to have another crack at this, if WordPress will let me. For a start I don’t believe that hundreds figure, it looks very like another of those policy based pieces of evidence that never quite add up to what is claimed. Even if it’s true, so what ? Why is it assumed that saving those lives is a necessary good that justifies a collective curtailment of freedom, what has happened to those people subsequently, did they all find peace and happiness, how many of them are leading lives of quiet desperation, swallowing anti-depressants or self medicating with alcohol ? This is typical of the lives must be saved at all costs approach, once it’s done, the lives saved and the warm glow of moral righteousness achieved, the actual people involved and their real, rather than statistical, lives are forgotten.
    In any case if you really want to kill yourself with paracetamol you need only move on to the next seller or two and buy another batch, if it’s just one of those cries for help what’s to stop it taking some other form ? Are the people who kill themselves some other way through not being able to grab sufficient paracetamol included in those statistics ?

  53. PaulB – ‘I think the disruption of requiring pedestrians to wear helmets too great to countenance. Whereas selling paracetamol in small packets is a trivial imposition.’

    A trivial imposition to ‘save’ ‘tens of lives’, but not a less trivial one to save thousands?

    I’m afraid you have had your arse handed to you on this one, Mr B.

  54. Thornavis: the number is for the reduction in deaths from paracetamol overdoses. You are right that the people who really want to kill themselves may well find another way to do it. But the point about paracetamol in particular is that we know that a lot of people who take overdoses don’t really want to kill themselves, because we can ask them in the time it takes them to die of liver failure.

    Gareth: The number of pedestrian deaths in road traffic accidents in the UK in 2011 was 453. This paper found that 28% of a sample of pedestrians and car passengers killed had fatal head injuries only. Let’s suppose that half of them – 14% – would have been saved by helmets . Then compulsory helmets for pedestrians would save about 63 lives annually.

    The estimated annual lives saved by the paracetamol restrictions is 68.

    So the numbers of lives saved by the two measures would be roughly comparable.

    Tell me again about that arse.

  55. Paul B

    Yes I know that attempted suicides with paracetamol often regret doing it, as would anyone dying a slow and painful death I think and no doubt the number of deaths through paracetamol overdoses did fall – allowing for massaging of figures that is – but it doesn’t answer my point. Do we actually know how many of those potential post restriction deaths became actual deaths through some other means, if not and I’m not sure how we could, then I suggest that at the very least the figures are misleading.

  56. This site says that, of people making failed suicide attempts, “about one in 100 will die by suicide within a year”. Which doesn’t exactly answer your question, but does suggest that if you can stop people killing themselves when they don’t really mean to, they’ll seldom end up making attempts they really do mean.

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