Must the government do everything?

Yes, it’s been a quiet blogging day for me.  It’s a combination of work and mental stultification.  Nevertheless, I was intrigued by this article describing how dreadfully ill the British are:

Britain has been branded “the sick man of Europe” after a Government report revealed a nation blighted by record levels of obesity, alcohol abuse, diabetes and smoking related deaths.


The “snapshot” of the nation’s health showed that almost 900,000 children aged under 11 are obese – a 50 per cent increase in the past decade. The report from the Department of Health also revealed England as the only European country with rising alcohol consumption and an increase in alcohol-related deaths, particularly amongst women.

Other findings included:

* Britons drink 11.37 litres of pure alcohol per person compared with an EU average of 10.95 litres.

* The number of women aged 35 to 54 dying of alcohol abuse has almost doubled in the last 15 years.

* There are 288 deaths per 100,000 people from smoking-related causes in the UK, compared with an EU average of 263.

* People in the Britain eat an average of 25kg less fruit and vegetables each per year compared with EU countries.

* Diabetes sufferers have risen to 4.8 per cent of men and 3.6 per cent of women in 2003.

* Despite declining teenage pregnancy rates, the UK still has the highest proportion of births to under-20s compared to other western European countries. There are also new highs in separate figures for self harm, and the sexually transmitted disease Chlamydia.

* A stark north-south divide remains, with boys born in Manchester likely to die on average 10 years younger than those born in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

In other words, Britain is suffering from a plethora of lifestyle illnesses:  too much alcohol; too much smoking; too much promiscuous, careless sex; too much unhealthy food.

You do notice that all of the severe problems the Brits have are self-inflicted wounds?  Indeed, the article goes on to say that they’re doing pretty well when it comes to dealing with “Act of God” illnesses such as cancer.

Two thoughts occurred to me upon reading the article:

First, do you think that, if Brits didn’t have free, government provided health care, they might take more care of themselves?  Lacking the health-obsessive culture you see, for example, in Germany (any trip to Germany reveals an obsession with eating healthy food and exercising — more power to them), they don’t seem to have any incentive to stay healthy.  Add to this the fact that the Brits have had a pretty much complete collapse of moral standards and you may conclude, as I did, that the end results are unsurprising.

Second, as I read further into the article, I was struck by the fact that the prescriptions for turning this trend around have absolutely nothing to do with getting the Brits to take responsibility for themselves.  It’s all the government’s fault (emphasis mine):

Tory Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “These figures show a shocking rise in alcohol abuse and obesity levels in this country and how the Government is losing the battle to tackle public health challenges.


The Liberal Democrats claimed the figures revealed a “crisis in public health”, and accused the Government of “half-hearted” measures to combat obesity.

Health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “Ten years of Labour Government has left us with widening health inequalities and a crisis in public health.


“Whilst we have made good progress in stopping people smoking, I am determined to move further and faster to respond to all these challenges – with a cross Government drive to tackle obesity, improve diet and activity levels and promote safe and sensible drinking,” she said.

“Our ambition is to reverse the rising tide of obesity and overweight in the population, by enabling everyone to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The Brits seem to have become a nation of big, fat babies.  So sad from a nation that, through WWII, was one of the world’s champions of responsibility for oneself.


4 Responses

  1. Interesting and sad. To support what you said, I think that this is what happens to people when they come under the care of the nanny state and are absolved of responsibility for taking care of their own lives.

    Not to over-emphasize the virtues of the Protestant Work Ethic (Gee, how quaint that term sounds today), one thing that I have noticed is that people with too few responsibilities and too much time on their hands tend to degenerate. As with the Liberal/Left Great Society in America, the government becomes the enabler of bad behavior.

  2. I was having lunch with DQ today and, in the context of discussing this news story, I noted that people need meaning and purpose in their lives. In that regard, Paris Hilton is as bad as any individual stuck feeding at the welfare trough: whether because of inherited wealth without responsibility or goals, or government handouts with responsibility or goals, these people have truly been denied their right to develop as full human beings. They are stunted.

  3. record levels of obesity

    This is what happens when you throw stones from a glass house.

    Many Brits, even if not most of them, did so for their own purposes. Nature has its own set of punishments and rewards for behavior, outside of the jurisdiction of government or the US military.

    Of course, statistics aren’t really a story. They are more like hints of a story. Other things should be looked at. like their anti-Americanism .That will spell their doom far more than any old statistic.

  4. There will always be an England”; alas, not I fear. Unless we are talking about the land mass itself; but not much will remain of the culture. The long history of liberty in the West will lose its oomphala, and the land of the common law, Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, and the Reformation will slide into a similar oblivion as the culture that made Stonehenge; but with fewer large rocks remaining.

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