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Paying For the Fat of the Land

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Some people say that Paul Mason needs help. I say he's already gotten enough. One million pounds' ($1,666,666) worth of help, to be exact.

Who is Paul Mason, you ask? The world's heaviest man, at a mere twenty pounds shy of 1,000. Yep, you heard right: If this guy gains just twenty more pounds — and gaining weight is obviously his life's sole goal and achievement — he'll be one thousand pounds in weight.

The 48-year-old Mason knows he's in bad shape. He saw his father die of obesity. Yet he continues to consume 20,000 calories a day. He has received help before, but gained all the weight back soon afterwards. The taxpayer-funded cost for the NHS to treat him over the years totals £1 million. Living on benefits such as he obviously does, he costs the taxpayer a further £100,000 a year.

His mother had to remortgage the house just to pay his food bills, and his sister bemoans, "I still love Paul, but what he does just breaks my heart."

Now Mr. Mason needs emergency surgery or he could die. Well, I hate to be this callous, but the phrase "too bad, so sad, never mind" seems appropriate in this case.

Mason is not just cursed with a serious illness. It's obvious that he's got an incredibly stubborn eating disorder, but he doesn't even have a redeeming personality or conscience to make up for it. He served time in prison for stealing cash from letters during his former job as a mailman. He slimmed down to 280 pounds during his stint in jail, but only because he had no choice but to eat a limited amount. As a free man, Mason cannot keep himself away from fast food, candies, chips and other junk.

His sister alleges that Mason didn't want help from even his nearest-and-dearest. "I let him get away with it. He has suffered from depression and I know I should have been a lot more supportive as a sister," said Mrs. Mason. "But there is only a certain amount you can give someone if they don't help themselves. He didn't want our help."

And there you have it. You cannot help people who won't help themselves. Therefore, Paul Mason must accept his fate. He has no right to demand a £20,000 stomach operation from the NHS when he has already cost the public health care system £1 million. He's had his chances and he's blown them. Sorry, Paul, but your six-foot girth will land you six-foot under and you have no-one to blame for that but yourself.

Is there something about being fat that blinds people to reality? And how can they be content to live off society? A non-working Scottish couple, who weigh a combined 666 pounds, had all seven of their children taken into custody over concerns about their weights. It's one thing to breed like rabbits when you're on welfare, but for all seven of your offspring to be on the hefty side really takes the cake, if you'll forgive the pun.

The 40-year-old proud mom offered up her heartfelt defense. "All I hear from the two lassies is 'can we come home?' and I tell them 'soon, darlings'. It hurts. I will take my kids to the obesity clinic and help them get the help that they need. I want the best for my kids. That's the kind of mother I am."

Errr, forgive me for asking, but if that's the kind of mother you are, why were your kids taken into care? The local authority in Dundee disagrees, justifying the move with their own riposte. "[T]he welfare and safety of a child or children is the over-riding priority and in some cases, despite the strenuous efforts of the agencies providing this support, the best option is for them to be looked after away from their home." I agree with the council. We don't need seven future overweight shirkers.

This sort of thing is what scares me most about Obama-care. No strangers to those with planet-sized rear ends themselves, Americans will be footing a bill as large as the fat of the land itself to take care of them. Unless, of course, we adopt L.A. Times columnist Melissa Healy's idea to make fatties pay for a public health care system. It's not a bad idea. Sure, it reeks of the ol' liberal stalwart of throwing money at the problem, but it will raise funds and it will make others think twice about what they eat; they just might realize that there was indeed life before trans-fats. The only problem is, of course, the goverment-funded doctor-crats will take this ball and run with it. You daren't step into a health care professional's office without a BMI chart being waved in your face. I can see the two sides of that issue.

But one thing is for certain: Until people rediscover common sense and start taking back responsibility for themselves and their own lives, we will continue to deal with the Paul Masons of the world and the subsequent creaking and groaning of the public services infrastructure that they cause.

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  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I have to point out that private doctors under private insurance still take great pains to keep people from becoming overweight or to get their weight down. It’s in the best interests of the medical community to keep them alive because the process of getting them healthy is one of the most profitable aspects of the medial industry, requiring long-term drug treatment and elective operations which are often not covered or only partially covered by insurance.

    That said, I do have to defend fat people a bit. I know several overweight folks who are very productive citizens despite their size and in some cases the severe health problems which come with it. Two of the wealthiest and hardest working citizens of the town I live in are really quite enormous, but they work their ample asses off despite weighing 350+ pounds each.

    Being fat and also lazy is more a product of society than anything else. When you have a generous welfare state which provides financial incentives to sit on the couch and eat chips and not go to work, that’s what people will do. And the UK certainly has such a system.

    Dave

  • Deano

    Ummm…Dave but weren’t you going to great pains just last week to claim that the difference between UK and US in average lifespans was entirely due to social differences, specifically obesity and cars and not due to the impact of a socialized medical system?

    I think it has a good deal more to do with the prevailing commen dietary habits and the availability of cheap, low-cost junk food, rather than the prevelance of any “welfare” state. Work and lifestyles have shifting in the last half-century to a more sedentary pattern – more passive, less physically demanding work, more entertaiment options at home (i.e. TV, Internet, etc.), and the wide availability of fast food options. Obesity is a common problem across a wide range of cultures and societies including both the US and the UK.

    I don’t think you can cherry-pick the 1,000 lb man or a fat family as examples and have them serve a reflection of all of the ills of a society or the success/failure of a medical system. It is a facetious argument.

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    We’ve been sold a bill of goods, being told the new junk food is “low cost” when in actuality the long term costs associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and the like actually make eating prepackaged junk food a very expensive proposition.

    This guy probably needs a good psychiatrist. It’s easy to have bad habits, eating or otherwise. It’s far harder to do the right thing.

  • Clavos

    It is a facetious argument.

    I don’t think either Mark or Dave was trying to be funny…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    He’s had his chances and he’s blown them. Sorry, Paul, but your six-foot girth will land you six-foot under and you have no-one to blame for that but yourself.

    Mark, This guy may be a pig of the worst sort (if anyone knows about over-eating, I certainly do), but be careful of what you say here. You never know when Someone is listening to you. This is not some major political issue (unless you want to complain of the money the NHS is spending to help keep this guy alive) – this is more on the personal level. You are judging Paul Mason. Whatever ill he has done, he has done to himself and his family, not you.

    I’m not arguing with most of what you say, Mark – just warning you on the judgment part. And no, I’m not being a hypocrite either. My condemnations of the United States government are based on the actions they have taken to harm my country, me and my children. It’s damned personal.

    It’s a whole lot different from the overweight slobs who would come into the Burger King I managed and order a double whopper with cheese, large fries, a chicken sandwich chaser, and a diet Coke. It hurt to see, and occasionally I felt like slapping these fools upside the head for their stupidity. But if anything, they were not doing harm to me – I was doing harm to them – by taking their orders and taking their money, thus enabling them to slowly kill themselves on fast food.

    Think about what I’m telling you, Mark.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Being fat and also lazy is more a product of society than anything else. When you have a generous welfare state which provides financial incentives to sit on the couch and eat chips and not go to work, that’s what people will do. And the UK certainly has such a system.

    The problem with drawing that correlation, Dave, is that the US has had a problem with endemic obesity for far longer than Britain and the other European nations which have welfare states.

    I think it is, as you say, a product of society – but it’s more an effect of recent cultural developments which encourage sedentary behaviour, such as video games, 52,778 cable TV channels, food (and just about everything else) drive-up and home delivery services, fast/convenience food and so forth. These are all American inventions which have only recently (with the exception of video games) made significant inroads in Europe, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the rise in obesity rates began at the same time.

    Remember also that after World War II the United States enjoyed rapid and considerable prosperity, which enabled people to eat more heartily than before. Many European countries, including Britain, retained rationing on some items until well into the fifties.

  • Doug Hunter

    I always wonder in these cases about the family of the obese one. I would hope if I ever was in that situation my wife would stop bringing me 20,000 calories of food. I’m certain this man is not mobile enough to get his own.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy, that’s an excellent comment. I see a lot of the very fast-food ordering habits you mention. The Diet Coke is a kicker, isn’t it? A bit like going to the armoury and saying, “Yeah, I’ll take three thermonuclear bombs, a dozen ICBMs and a ton of napalm, please. Oh, and a bulletproof vest.”

    :-)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    @ #7:

    Doug, you’re absolutely right and his family is certainly enabling him. It probably hurts them deeply to see him like this, but I’m sure Mr Mason is very manipulative.

  • Deano

    Clavos,

    I don’t think either Mark or Dave was trying to be funny…

    Facetious as in “lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous” as per Dave’s argument.

    I might have also said “fatuous” but you might have thought I was making a bad pun…

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Dave, re #1, I know some fat people can be hard-working, but please don’t tell me they’re in great health because there’s no way you can be healthy at 350 pounds, unless you were eight feet tall. Your point about the generous welfare system breeding laziness and the resultant obesity is an excellent point. Clearly that’s the case with the Scottish couple and their children, as well as Mr. Mason.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Ruvy re #5: I try my hardest not to take it personally, but it’s an affront to everyone who keeps in shape and works hard to see people like that, knowing what they’re costing me and all of us foolish enough to be trim and contributing to society.

    I’m very proud of the fact that I never walk into a McDonald’s for anything other than coffee (black coffee, only one sugar), and even that’s not every day.

  • Clavos

    From the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (the OED is the ultimate authority on word meanings in English):

    facetious

    /fseeshss/

    • adjective trivially or inappropriately humorous.

    From dictionarydotcom (A much lesser authority):

    fa ce tious
    ??{f??si??s} [fuh-see-shuhs]
    adjective
    1. not meant to be taken seriously or literally: a facetious remark.
    2. amusing; humorous.
    3. lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous: a facetious person.

    The first dictionary definition of a word is the most accepted one, with subsequent definitions listed in decreasing order.

  • Doug Hunter

    “I’m very proud of the fact that I never walk into a McDonald’s for anything” – MEM

    The fast food places aren’t all bad, in fact at times Wendy’s and McD’s have offered good value on salads, wraps, grilled chicken, etc. Even their “healthier” choices are loaded with sodium and overprocessed crap but the last time a got a fast food salad it had a few different kinds of lettuce in the mix, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, etc and seemed pretty fresh overall…. not terrible. I wouldn’t expect much more for $1.

    I see some changes at least on the margins. If people will ask for and demand healthier choices these places will supply them (or their comeptitors will)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’m very proud of the fact that I never walk into a McDonald’s for anything other than coffee (black coffee, only one sugar), and even that’s not every day.

    I haven’t been inside a McDonald’s in years – ever since the day I was sitting in one munching away at a Big Mac – and realized that what I was eating didn’t actually taste of anything.

    I have heard their coffee is good, though – better than Starbucks, by some reports.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    @ #13, Clav:

    Might facile perhaps have been the word Deano was searching for?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    According to a recent study done by Marketdata Enterprises, the estimated value of the U.S. diet market in 2008 was $58.6 billion.

    According to JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) Issue: August 27, 2008, “unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are second only to tobacco as underlying causes of death.”

    Over half of our American population is overweight or obese and childhood obesity is on the rise with one out of three children overweight or obese.

    It is no doubt that obesity causes many other health issues which add tons of money to our health care system. I have been dealing with “fat” and “unhealthy” people for along time (and have even reversed some of the damages) and by no means want to demean them, however, when are Americans going to take responsibility for their own health WHERE THEY CAN? And if our government really cares about American’s health; they would address this issue more as well as prevention. But not by control and taxes: but education and incentive!

  • Baronius

    I think Mark’s trying to generalize from this guy’s story. Here’s a possible moral: charity becomes dangerous when it’s expected. When it becomes an “entitlement”, you modify your behavior to take advantage of it.

    If a man enjoys food, he spends his life working hard so he can afford it. If he gets money for nothing, he only has to make the effort of going to the grocery store. If someone gets food for him, he only has to eat, but within reason, or it will kill him. If he gets free medical care, he can keep eating forever.

    Each of these charitable acts – money for the poor, aid for the helpless, medical care for the sick – is a good thing. When we institutionalize them, they can dehumanize the recipient.

  • Clavos

    Might facile perhaps have been the word Deano was searching for?

    It might. It certainly makes better sense.

  • Deano

    No, the word I used was facetious – specific and intended, although now that you mention it, his argument was also facile, fatuous and asinine.

    Feel free to look those up too Clavos.

  • Irene Wagner

    I think someone should at least chuckle at the “fatuous” pun, which really wasn’t that bad, as puns go.

  • Clavos

    Feel free to look those up too Clavos.

    I don’t need to, Deano. They, and facetious, have long been in my vocabulary.

  • STM

    Dave: “I have to point out that private doctors under private insurance still take great pains to keep people from becoming overweight or to get their weight down”.

    Of course, that’d be why the US, with its celebrated private health system, comes in 9th on the list of the most overweight countries, and the UK comes in at a distant 28th (and bear in mind, most of the countries ahead of the US are little islands in the Pacific).

    Dave, stop trying to work your propaganda into every statement you make. You might fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of us all of the time.

    Either that, or get a brain transplant. Your circuits have worn out.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Frankly, Deano, I don’t even see how your response to my initial comment relates to it. Perhaps the problem is just that you didn’t read it or didn’t understand it. It’s a lot easier to write a comment off as “facetious” when you don’t bother to address it in any way.

    Dave

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Doug Hunter re #14: Doug, the fast food places are that bad. They’re only offering salads to get the so-called “food Nazis” and other assorted healthy lifestyle campaigners off their backs. But I’m not fooled. They pump millions into advertising across the world to push … salads? No. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, fatty wraps, etc. Working with ads such as I do, I see newspaper and television ads for crappy fast food all the time, and McDonald’s, Subway and KFC are by far the worst offenders. They are relentless in their pursuit of profit over health. They are a big factor in the obesity problem, but they’re not totally to blame, because if people actually had smarts and would take more interest in their health, the fast food joints would suffer for it and that, in my opinion, would be a great thing.

    Dr. D re #15: The coffee is the only good thing about McD’s, and it’s the only thing they offer that, as you have noted, tastes of anything.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Christine re #17: “And if our government really cares about American’s health; they would address this issue more as well as prevention. But not by control and taxes: but education and incentive!”

    Great point!

    Baronius re #18: That’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Charity becomes expected and then, once that happens, those acts of charity become rights. There’s no doubting that some people think that Paul Mason has the right to receive whatever benefits and health care service he wants, as long as he wants, and that he can still continue to stuff his face ceaselessly, because it’s his human right to do so … I fervently believe that so-called human rights have taken the place of common sense and sound judgment.

  • Deano

    Oh I read it Dave and frankly your specious reasoning in equating obesity as a causal effect of socialism and socialized medicine is stupid.

    If anything morbid widespread obesity is a by-product of a fast-food, highly consumer-oriented culture.

  • Baronius

    Mark – Rights and responsibilities, maybe? I’m very hesitant to label anything a right because of our contemporary thinking that a right can’t be suspended, and carries no obligation. We’re using the word “right” poorly, and usually when there’s a language error, there’s a thinking error behind it.

    A government is either one of laws or one of men. A government of men is tyranny. A government of laws probably doesn’t have any good rule to determine when to say, “dude, you’re too fat”. (In fact, if they did have a good rule for it, some people would adapt their lives to just skirt it.) Government is ill-suited to handle a problem like this.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Deano,

    To Dave, anything bad, including all recessions, wars, crime, scrofula and the Tennessee Titans defense is directly attributable to socialism.

  • STM

    Doc, socialism is the root cause of ALL ills. For instance, what about the high occurrence of SPATFA injuries in Australian Rules Football?

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Stan: “[W]hat about the high occurrence of SPATFA injuries in Australian Rules Football?”

    SPATFA? Sounds like a free-trade agreement amalgam or an FBI programme designed to catch mobsters.

  • STM

    Lol. Mate, the SPATFA is an injury that tends to come from shorts that are waaaay too tight.

    Those heathens from the southern and westyern states deserve everthing they get with fashion statements like that.

    It does look rather fetching though, accessorised with a nice sleeveless top like the ones my daughter wears in summer.

    If you’re into that kind of thing …

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Well, there’s something to be said for short shorts (you already know how I feel about “dork shorts”), but not ones so tight that they cause injury! I mean, an injury that comes from wearing shorts that are too tight? Sort of defeats any game plan, I should think.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Apparently SPATFA stands for Specific Penial and Testicular Functional Abnormalities.

    The acronym is almost as eye-watering as the condition.

    Oof…

  • STM

    The other must-have for AFL players: a mullet.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    STM: The other must-have for AFL players: a mullet.

    I wore a mullet wig for my wife’s birthday bash the other evening (it was an 80s-themed bowling night). It gave me special powers. My first two bowls were strikes; my third was a gutter ball.

    So d’you think I might be able to get an AFL contract?

  • STM

    In the civilised eastern states, no (AFL? What’s that?). But in the heathen southern and western states, it probably also depends on how tight yer shorts are Doc, and whether they match nicely with the sleeveless top.

    Rule of thumb on the tops: make sure they look fetching when teamed with a matching handbag.