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November 5, 2016 / Congau

Penalty for Unhealthy Lifestyle

People should actually be penalized for unhealthy lifestyle. That may sound rather fascist, but given a right understanding of what punishment is or should be it is appropriate. In fact, some unhealthy habits are already sanctioned in liberal societies.

On the face of it, it seems unfair. The penalty for unhealthy conduct is ill health, and one may think that people don’t deserve any additional suffering. That is true, but this is not about what anyone deserves. Governments should stipulate punishment only in order to discourage people from engaging in harmful behavior. The actual penalty that is implemented after the misdeed has occurred is not so interesting. What matters is the preventive effect that the threat of punishment may have.

Now the possible illness that could be the result of certain habits may seem psychologically far off and something we avoid thinking about. Often we are only able to react to threats that are more immediate. If the punishment for a cigarette or a glass of wine is high taxes or banishment from the site, that might make us abstain. Likewise the fear of the roadside police may prevent speeding more effectively that the fear of accidents.

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