The Dangers of ‘Public Health’...

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Kent C

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    What was once a concern about public goods has transformed into a social crusade with a political agenda.

    http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/2015/9/regulation-v38n3-4.pdf

    This is a viewpoint of the 'big picture' of "public health" from a non-collectivist viewpoint. While there is a passage regarding ecigarettes (see below), it discusses the history and some of the philosophy of 'public health' from it's early concerns with actual 'public goods' to the paternalism of today. Not so much concerned with the safety of goods but rather a prescription for certain behaviors or lifestyles that the 'experts' in public health consider safe, or that promote public health. Long, but substantive and points to many of the things discussed here....


    "Until late in the 19th century, public health
    was by and large concerned with what
    economists call “public goods.” ...National defense
    is the most common example: it’s hard for an army to protect
    only certain homes that pay a private “defense fee.” Similarly,
    basic sanitation and controlling epidemics of infectious diseases
    or antibiotic resistance may be examples of public goods because
    they benefit everyone’s health once they are available."

    Most of us would have little problem if that is what 'public health' was today.

    "Public health, however, has always been tempted by authoritarian
    drifts. In the 19th and early 20th century, “public hygiene”
    became “racial hygiene” and “social hygiene.” A parallel development
    was the eugenics movement, which aimed at preventing
    people who were deemed “unfit” from passing on their genetic
    defects—and sometimes simply eliminating those people altogether.

    In America, both public health and eugenics flourished during
    the Progressive Era. Although the two movements were not
    identical, they had many similarities and shared promoters. The
    founder of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Harvey Wiley,
    figured among the supporters of a Chicago surgeon who, in the
    late 1910s, “permitted or hastened the deaths of at least six infants
    he diagnosed as eugenically defective,” according to University of
    Michigan historian Martin Pernick."
    ----

    "Public health now encompasses noncommunicable diseases
    and “lifestyle epidemics,” such as the use of tobacco and alcohol,
    as well as obesity—matters that are very far removed from public
    goods concerns. Also included are many conditions or forms of
    behavior, such as riding a motorcycle, driving a car, owning firearms,
    engaging in “substance abuse,” having imperfect access to
    medical care, being poor, and so forth. Public health means health
    care and everything that is related to health writ large. (my emphasis)

    Moreover, “social justice” has become an essential feature of
    public health: “Social justice,” writes Turnock, “is the foundation
    of public health.”"

    Social justice - perhaps, but it's a stretch. Individual justice - nope.
    ---

    "tobacco consumers cannot want something that
    carries only costs (the purchase price of tobacco products plus the
    health risks), so tobacco use must have some benefit as judged by
    the consumers themselves. It won’t do for public health advocates
    to respond simply that smoker demand arises from addiction, not
    desire for pleasure; many smokers stop smoking and half of nonsmokers
    are former smokers—so “tobacco addiction” isn’t destiny.

    Moreover, everything one likes is difficult to abandon, but that
    doesn’t mean people are addicted to everything they like." (original emphasis)

    This aspect - the assumption of 'no benefit' (which has been brought up by Conley and Phillips?) - points to why smoking still persists, despite all the 'danger' promoted by our public health officials, and why ecigarettes lessen those dangers but will still be demand regardless of regulation.

    "Another argument, at one time overexploited by the antismoking
    movement, is that the consumer is incompetent at
    maximizing his utility because he lacks information about the
    risks of tobacco use. This line of argument was abandoned when
    researchers discovered that consumers generally overestimate the
    health risk of smoking. Moreover, nobody would seem more
    motivated than the individual himself in obtaining optimal
    information (considering the cost of information) about the
    choices that affect his own life.

    "Yet an individual probably remains in the best position to make choices
    regarding his own life, if only because anybody else—including
    politicians and bureaucrats—is subject to the same cognitive
    limitations.

    "In practice, public health experts and activists resemble Plato’s
    philosopher kings. They reign, subsidized, in universities and
    government health institutions, ostensibly knowing what is
    good for society and willing to impose it by force."

    This is what almost every thread here exemplifies.

    The ecig citation:

    "Slippery slopes are another implication. Some people don’t
    believe in slippery slopes, often because they don’t understand the
    logic of institutions. Government intervention calls for more intervention.
    Consumers become more and more dependent on coercive
    organizations like the FDA. The whole process creates and feeds
    a constituency of subsidized public health experts who will make
    sure that more bans and regulations are requested and enacted. A
    good example is the current push for banning electronic cigarettes.
    Even from the point of view of medical science, such a ban appears
    about as scientific as smoking bans for parks and beaches.

    Interestingly, public health itself can be seen as the product of
    a slippery political slope. It is barely enumerated powers that have
    allowed the federal government to enter this field. Since “health”
    is not mentioned a single time in the U.S. Constitution, the federal
    government’s intervention in public health has been justified by
    citing the general welfare and commerce clauses."
     

    VapingTommy

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      Extremely well - written piece, and I could not agree more. The concept of the "nanny state" is a scary one in my view. I recently heard a man boasting about how he tripped over in the street, and won tens of thousands of pounds (uk) compensation by suing the local council for "failure to maintain street pathways to satisfactory standard".

      Doesn't anyone feel the urge to shout "LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING MAN?!!!!!"

      I believe this over zealous and expanding web of controls and micro-management of daily life all derive from the legal profession, and the fact that most countries' governments were built by lawyers somewhere along the line. Lawyers make money every time someone is sued, (or divorced for that matter, or...... the list is endless). So conflict, blame and division is inherently bred within all western societies for this exact design in my opinion, a deliberate long term move towards relying on those clever rich people of the higher social order, who will come along and sort it all out for us patsy voters/tax payers.
       

      Uma

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        Excellent article, thanks for posting!
        I agree 100% with the article. They are the epitomy a political organization.
        "The basic thrust of public health is to remove decisions from the domain of individual choice."
        This destroys the well being of the individual.
         

        Rossum

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          VapingTommy

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            "An antecedentless pronoun is an example in the singular of the Ambiguous Collective fallacy" - Oh nice, write a paper and then give two words capital letters denoting your new (humble) creation of a new proper noun, just because you wrote a paper on it!! Sometimes intellect and ego can become mightily confused.

            We, in this instance, referred to all those who elect someone, all voters in other words. Hence the phrase "we elect", i.e. the delimiter is found within the word elect, clearly displaying the notion of "we" in this instance to refer to those who vote. Sometimes its easier to just read some words instead of find a way to break them into something else, for gratification of some kind. :)
             
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            Kent C

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              So conflict, blame and division is inherently bred within all western societies for this exact design in my opinion

              Something happened where almost no one 'admits' or 'takes responsibility' for their actions anymore. Where any hint of responsibility is taken to the highest level of blame by lawyers and media (and comedians), where saying anything can be 'dangerous' and at the same time where crimes with ample evidence are handled in the same manner by not admitting anything.

              The result can be where murderers go free, and certain truthful statements that are politically incorrect are high crimes.
               

              Kent C

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                Excellent article, thanks for posting!
                I agree 100% with the article. They are the epitomy a political organization.
                "The basic thrust of public health is to remove decisions from the domain of individual choice."
                This destroys the well being of the individual.

                These are the 'victim hustlers' at work. It's been pointed out many times here. The 'we know what's best for you' factions. One from the Collectivists (the most predominant) - who create victims to take care of, and one from the overly Religious - who wince at anyone doing something that makes themselves happy. And those are the types from which the original immigrants to America (and many of the later ones) ...were escaping.

                "How ideology interfaces with public health is an interesting
                question. Peter Jacobson recognizes that “most health law/policy
                scholars would identify as being on the political left.” Most of
                the rest are probably also statists. At least in America, public
                health experts may be carrying over some the coercive values of
                the nation’s Puritan ancestors. To paraphrase H. L. Mencken’s
                characterization of Puritanism, public health experts are subject
                to the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is having fun."
                 

                VapingTommy

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                  "The result can be where murderers go free, and certain truthful statements that are politically incorrect are high crimes." How succinct and true.

                  Tony Blair walks free.
                  Mentioning in a pub how you suspect some of the holocaust history was exaggerated or fabricated, is indeed a high crime and one which people have gone to prison for.
                  Interesting, I think we are already there!
                   
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                  Jman8

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                    "Until late in the 19th century, public health
                    was by and large concerned with what
                    economists call “public goods.” ...National defense
                    is the most common example: it’s hard for an army to protect
                    only certain homes that pay a private “defense fee.” Similarly,
                    basic sanitation and controlling epidemics of infectious diseases
                    or antibiotic resistance may be examples of public goods because
                    they benefit everyone’s health once they are available."

                    IMO, the slippery slope starts with national defense. We now live in an age where so many things are now part of "national security" and put in that domain. Argue against this and you may as well just be arguing for giving aid and comfort to our (alleged) enemies.

                    I'm pretty sure I can dig up some quote from some liberal that says public health is a matter of national security.

                    To me, if you want that as part of the country you live in, then voluntarily pay for it and be happy it is a service that applies to all that live in the same country as you. On the flip side, if you don't want to contribute to that particular fund, then I don't think you ought to be forced to, or compelled by law. National security consistently strikes me as a form of socialism. As long as it stays in form it is, I can see why other services would be put forth as "everyone should pay for this as it is in interest of everyone that lives here."

                    I wish to be clear that because I've identified the slippery slope and while I do have philosophical (or even constitutional) questions for it's establishment as ongoing service, this doesn't mean I think it should be done away with, nor that I would not be willing to pay for that service. Just think that this is where all the quasi-socialism starts and how it is rather easy to go there when you realize after 5 seconds of considering what we've built that our (alleged) enemies might be within.
                     

                    Kent C

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                      National security consistently strikes me as a form of socialism.

                      It's a bit like 'mutual insurance' plans. But.... socialism also involves, as Obama said, a redistribution - usually from the wealthy to the not so wealthy. With National security - all benefit equally. Although not all are taxed equally.

                      Socialists have always used certain phrasings in the Constitution to redefine original intent. They actually renamed 'relief' to 'welfare' because 'general welfare' is a phrase in the Constitution. But the wording is "provide for the common defense" and "promote" (not provide for) the general welfare".

                      While the citizens militia could provide for domestic security, and man the national security forces, they cannot build boats, tanks, make atomic weapons and other weapons as easily - a 'united/national' front is needed for those things. Although it is a reason why we shouldn't be 'nation building' elsewhere, and why it was proposed as "the common defense" not offense.
                       

                      Jman8

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                        It's a bit like 'mutual insurance' plans. But.... socialism also involves, as Obama said, a redistribution - usually from the wealthy to the not so wealthy. With National security - all benefit equally. Although not all are taxed equally.

                        Doesn't seem like wealthy are contributing lives of their offspring to the efforts in an equal way. In fact, it routinely seems disproportionate and in essence is how society is arranged just to make it so we will always have persons who see serving as "great opportunity."

                        Really, if you have little or nothing to lose vs. having lots (of property) to lose, then the benefit is not going to be perceived equally. Those with the most to lose would seem to benefit the most from national defense.

                        Socialists have always used certain phrasings in the Constitution to redefine original intent. They actually renamed 'relief' to 'welfare' because 'general welfare' is a phrase in the Constitution. But the wording is "provide for the common defense" and "promote" (not provide for) the general welfare".

                        While the citizens militia could provide for domestic security, and man the national security forces, they cannot build boats, tanks, make atomic weapons and other weapons as easily - a 'united/national' front is needed for those things. Although it is a reason why we shouldn't be 'nation building' elsewhere, and why it was proposed as "the common defense" not offense.

                        All strikes me as place where slippery slope starts.
                         

                        Kent C

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                          Doesn't seem like wealthy are contributing lives of their offspring to the efforts in an equal way.

                          As I said, via taxes there's no 'equality' but everyone would benefit equally from the defense of their lives and properties here. If an attack is truly defended.

                          Really, if you have little or nothing to lose vs. having lots (of property) to lose,"

                          you can lose your life 'equally'

                          "then the benefit is not going to be perceived equally."

                          'Perceived' by whom? If a rich or poor person loses their home and/or their lives - they equally suffer that loss, whether it's a cardboard box in an alley or a palace or if it is their lives.

                          Just because people can 'perceive' things differently doesn't change the reality.

                          You'll have to continue this 'debate' with someone else - someone who likes college dorm discussions more than I do..... :- )
                           

                          Jman8

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                            As I said, via taxes there's no 'equality' but everyone would benefit equally from the defense of their lives and properties here. If an attack is truly defended.

                            You've said it, but have provided no supporting reason. My counter point is that if I provide little money compared to you, but my offspring is sold on idea that this is best opportunity to get ahead whereas yours is shielded from idea of having to serve, given the whole you might be killed on this job thing, then the benefit to our families are not equal.

                            I think the volunteer thing is great way to go, but I do think there would be arguably a lot less wars if the draft was required for families that say make $100,000 or more, and this was to be at least 30% of the entire armed forces.

                            If you disagree with the need for defense, as in it is simply not obvious, then the benefit will not be equal. If I came to your house today and said you and I need to fight so and so, and we need to do this together and we will both benefit equally from this, I'm fairly certain you will not be fighting with me based on my "but we'll both benefit equally" argument, regardless of how accurate I can make that sound to you.

                            'Perceived' by whom? If a rich or poor person loses their home and/or their lives - they equally suffer that loss, whether it's a cardboard box in an alley or a palace or if it is their lives.

                            Just because people can 'perceive' things differently doesn't change the reality.

                            Um, actually it does. That is the discussion really and is entirely what your "benefit equally" rests on.
                             

                            bigdancehawk

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                              Since “health”
                              is not mentioned a single time in the U.S. Constitution, the federal
                              government’s intervention in public health has been justified by
                              citing the general welfare and commerce clauses."

                              The only "general welfare" clause in the constitution pertains to the power to lay taxes. I would argue, as did Madison, that it did not give the federal government blanket power to spend tax money on whatever might be viewed as promoting the general welfare. Otherwise, the 10th Amendment would have no meaning. Unfortunately, however, there now seem to be no meaningful limitations on what the feds can spend money on. (Although the preamble states that the constitution is being adopted to "promote the general welfare," the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the preamble is not a substantive part of the constitution.)
                               

                              Kent C

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                                The only "general welfare" clause in the constitution pertains to the power to lay taxes. I would argue, as did Madison, that it did not give the federal government blanket power to spend tax money on whatever might be viewed as promoting the general welfare.

                                In Federalist #41

                                "Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms "to raise money for the general welfare."

                                But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter."

                                And.... not the only time he had to explain that :- )


                                “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the
                                Constitution which granted a right to Congress of
                                expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of
                                their constituents” (James Madison, 4 Annals of Congress
                                179 [1794]).Today, at least two-thirds of a $2.5 trillion
                                federal budget is spent on the “objects of benevolence.”
                                That includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, aid to
                                higher education, farm and business subsidies,welfare, ad
                                nauseam.

                                A few years later, Madison’s vision was expressed by
                                Representative William Giles of Virginia, who condemned
                                a relief measure for fire victims. Giles insisted
                                that it was neither the purpose nor a right of Congress
                                to “attend to what generosity and humanity require, but
                                to what the Constitution and their duty require”
                                (http://tuftsprimarysource.org/?p=163).

                                In 1827 Davy Crockett was elected to the House of
                                Representatives. During his term of office a $10,000
                                relief measure was proposed to assist the widow of a
                                naval officer. Crockett eloquently opposed the measure
                                saying, “Mr. Speaker: I have as much respect for the
                                memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the
                                suffering of the living, if there be, as any man in this
                                House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead
                                or our sympathy for part of the living to lead us into an
                                act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go
                                into an argument to prove that Congress has not the
                                power to appropriate this money as an act of charity.
                                Every member on this floor knows it. We have the right
                                as individuals, to give away as much of our own money
                                as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we
                                have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public
                                money
                                ” (from his famous “Not Yours To Give” speech,
                                originally published in The Life of Colonel David Crockett
                                by Edward Sylvester Ellis, www.fee.org/library/books/
                                notyours.asp).
                                 
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                                Jman8

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                                  From the linked article in OP:

                                  Slippery slopes are another implication. Some people don’t believe in slippery slopes, often because they don’t understand the logic of institutions. Government intervention calls for more inter- vention. Consumers become more and more dependent on coercive organizations like the fDa. The whole process creates and feeds a constituency of subsidized public health experts who will make sure that more bans and regulations are requested and enacted. a good example is the current push for banning electronic cigarettes. Even from the point of view of medical science, such a ban appears about as scientific as smoking bans for parks and beaches.

                                  Like my first post on ECF, I would like the evidence for the federal branch of government that is pushing for an (actual) ban on eCigs. Being the only current (or viable) example provided in the piece, it kinda shows up as uninformed about what is actually occurring, and like much of the article, is written with oodles of hyperbole to make its points (some of which I very much agree with).

                                  The current ban(s) that are coming to fruition are a) ban to minors and b) ban of use in public spaces. Ban to minors not even, a little bit, touched upon in the article which demonstrates a little to a huge lack of understanding, but is also very normal. The ban of use in public spaces is touched upon via this quote:

                                  The standard example is smoking in so-called “public” places. assume (even if it strains credulity) that minimal exposure to sec- ondhand tobacco smoke carries real health risks. In a free society, one would expect private entrepreneurs to open private venues (res- taurants, bars, etc.) on private property in order to welcome smokers and other patrons who are unconcerned about secondhand smoke or believe the benefits of patronizing a given smoking-allowed estab- lishment outweighs the risk. (See “The Case against Smoking Bans,” Winter 2006–2007.) Or a non-smoker may just want to be nice to a smoking friend he will have lunch with. Similarly, workers would make their own choices between working in a smoking or non- smoking environment. To prevent this diversity, the public health movement has contributed to the redefinition of “public place” as any private place where the public is admitted, a redefinition that amounts to a nationalization of the air in private businesses.

                                  What was the definition of public place before public health advocates redefined it? I would think it would be any place the public is admitted to. Clearly the public holds a majority of citizens that are satisfied with this movement, and from what I can tell, this includes a majority of vapers who are now ex-smokers. Me, as dual user, know that I will smoke outside wherever I go in public, and will vape inside because, well a) I do so with respect to others and b) there's only a slight chance that any person in an establishment would even know I vaped there. Same cannot be said for smoking. I'm always very curious why a ban is in place, and with smoking in public, I know it is mostly based on lies, and with vaping I know it is entirely based on lies. But for me this holds true with private entities that have same (effect of) ban in place in their establishments. Like say a vaper opened a restaurant and said policy for establishment was vaping is okay, but smoking is not. I would understand that smoking is not based on law of the land. But if I were to ask them directly if they would favor it despite the law, I'm thinking there is 75% chance they would not, and that the reasons would be based on lies (i.e. SHS is harmful).

                                  I say all this because, well as much as public health is a movement that has clearly taken over our culture, I do find it to be based on what a majority seems to want, for reasons that are often based on lies (or perception if you will). And for sure not based on reality of what SHS does, or has done to humanity when it was allowed everywhere. To neglect this in a piece that is going to spend more than 1000 words on trying to think through things critically shows me that critical thinking skills are lacking. Keep believing it is all "them" when your own words (in this piece, or on this thread) clearly show otherwise. These issues are rarely, if ever, about science or economic policies but about principles (and philosophy). Are you consistent with your rhetoric, or just looking to write a piece that aims at taking yet another pot shot at "them?"

                                  This piece is mostly to only about the latter.
                                   
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