Hey Kev, get your hands off my modestly-sized beer gut
The outsourcing of responsibility for your own stupid behaviour to our nanny government continues apace with Kevin Rudd’s cockamamie plan to effectively pay people to stop shovelling tons of junk down their throats while sitting on their bum watching the telly.
Central to this plan is the utterly laughable claim from the 2007-2008 National Health Survey that 68 per cent of Australians are obese or overweight.
This figure says nothing about the real health of many thousands of Australians, but plenty about the ludicrously narrow definition of obesity.
Talk about mixed messages.
While society rails against the depiction of women as praying mantises on the world’s catwalks, the scroggin-eating narcs who hold sway in our health bureaucracies are busily running around with their metal pinch clamps telling the happy owners of modestly-sized paunches that they are dicing with death.
The question here is one of degree, a point which seems lost on the health absolutists and anti-fun fascists who regard any extra poundage around the gusset as cause for a nationally-orchestrated, federally-funded education campaign.
It’s now going beyond education, with the proposal to give tax breaks for gym memberships, kids’ sports club fees, the censorious ban on so-called junk food advertising during children’s TV time, and most despicable of all, a sinister plot to use legislative force to limit our intake of the king of condiments, salt.
These proposals seem to confuse the genuine medical condition of obesity with the low-level chubbiness of those of us who are slightly fat by choice.
There is a very strong argument to be made for taxpayer-funded assistance for the seriously overweight, for procedures such as gastric banding to be covered by Medicare, because obesity is a genuine illness, and there are many people who can eat and exercise as much or as little as they like and still struggle to control their weight. For some of them it’s probably also psychological – an inability to control bingeing – and this too should not be met with derision, but support, including support with our tax dollars.
But as for the rest of us, spare us the lectures, and don’t blow our dough on school-maam suggestions as to how we can incorporate allegedly fun exercise into our working day.
In case you missed it, one of these genius ideas is for employers to “do their bit” by encouraging workers to stand up while using the phone.
Good one. Next time you ring The Punch to complain about one of the articles, don’t be put off by the panting – I’m not up to anything weird, just doing some star jumps on top of the desk.
At the core of these dumb proposals is the flawed belief that quality of life can be equated to length of life.
Most people wouldn’t agree.
If you were told, now, that for every Saturday from here on in, you missed every drunken barbecue, where you had what I’d propose as a normal intake of three or four beers, a bottle of red, a pork sausage, a rare steak, some potatoes covered in sour cream and cheese and bacon and spring onions, a bit of Caesar salad with some oily anchovy flavoured mayo, a big chunk of pecan pie, with half a bottle of dessert wine that you probably shouldn’t have opened but did anyway because you were pretty tanked – just drop all these “negative behaviours” right now, and you might add one or two years to your life.
One of my personal heroes is the late Santiago Graf Patjane Sr, who was the “grandfather” in the Mexican family I lived with for a year in 1986. He was a fiendishly smart and funny bloke, one of the few GPs in the small town I lived in, and he loved his tequila shots and his cigs and he loved telling great old yarns to his grandkids.
When I returned to Mexico on our honeymoon in 1994, the poor old bugger had had more strokes than Ian Thorpe, and when I asked him how he was going he replied: “Just look at me: I’m useless.”
He wasn’t totally useless. While he had the shocking shakes, and one side of his face was sagging badly, he could still talk and tell his tales – and his hands had done the most amazing thing – the thumb and index finger on his left hand had sort of fused into a perfect circle to hold his shot glass, and the yellowed index and middle finger on his right were stuck together to hold his smokes.
The kids would slot a glass and a smoke in, and off he’d go.
Dr Patjane was aged somewhere between 80 and 90 when he died. He could have lived longer – if he had chosen to be a professionally dull and grey excuse for a human being, who abhorred mildly lubricated convivial chat over a plate of pork-flavoured snacks, some fried grasshoppers and a fluted glass ashtray.
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