The Great Debate UK

A modest proposal for solving the obesity problem

It was bound to happen. You could see it waddling into view from a long way off. We are now being told by the medics that we should seriously consider a tax on fatty foods, in order to combat the scourge of obesity. How appropriate that, according to The Independent, the Deputy PM is planning to recruit 65,000 “State Nannies”!

One wonders how the new tax will be computed. Will it be a higher rate of tax on higher fat-content foods? Will chicken breast be taxed at a lower rate than chicken legs? Will omega-3 fats be taxed at a lower rate than omega-6? Either way, we can look forward to a tabloid feeding frenzy which will make pastygate look like a Cornish picnic.

As with minimum alcohol prices, it punishes us all for the sake of a minority. Why should those of us who have no weight problem be penalised for eating fatty food which may be doing us very little harm? And in any case, what gives the State the right to stop us from harming ourselves simply on the grounds that the NHS cannot afford to carry the cost? Surely when personal liberty and the NHS are in conflict, it is the NHS which has to give way?

Given that personal liberty is now such a low priority, apparently ranking a long way below concerns like NHS costs, I want to propose a far better solution, a more direct approach that goes straight to the root of the problem, while sidestepping the distractions of having to negotiate with the food suppliers.

Why I have to sleep with the enemy



-Laurence Copeland is professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own. -

A week or two ago, I posted a blog bemoaning the size of Britain’s public sector and expressing the fervent hope that the ill wind of the financial crisis would blow much of it away, leaving room for private industry to expand in its place.

The NHS: Back on the operating table



-Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-

“The NHS – the envy of the world”. This is one of the Great British Myths to rank alongside “A-level standards haven’t fallen”.