Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Should Overweight People Be Forced to Pay More at the Airport?

Long ago on my blog I wrote a short opinion on those who are overweight. In it, I proposed that we all be charged by our weight for entry to the subway system since overweight people take up more space. So for example, if a person weighs 250 pounds, they would pay $2.50 to enter the subway. I think it makes practical sense and has the potential to encourage others to live healthier lives.

I'm certainly not the only one proposing such types of weight related measures. I came across an article on proposing a similar measure for airplanes. Peter Singer argues that since the extra pounds of overweight and obese passengers cause the airline companies to spend more money on fuel costs, all passengers over a certain weight should have to pay a surcharge, while passengers below that weight should be given a discount.

I like the idea a lot, and I can tell you that sitting next to someone overweight on an airplane is no fun. This surcharge proposal wouldn't be to humiliate or punish those who are overweight, it would be to pay for the extra fuel costs the airlines take on due to the extra weight of the passengers, just like how airlines apply a surcharge for heavy baggage.

Proposals such as this and the one I've suggested earlier of coarse have their critics, many of whom are overweight. It has been argued that the obese cannot help themselves and that their weight is do primarily to genetic factors. 'Tis true that there are a variety of genetic factors in how one maintains weight, but it is mostly people's ability to resist the temptation of eating to the point of excess when living in a world where surplus amounts of food are ubiquitous. I can surely eat much more than I do, but I resist the temptation of sweets because I know it will make me fat, and I care more about my health and appearance than I do the momentary pleasures of sugar-filled processed foods.

In other words, being fat is not like being gay. A gay person cannot choose what makes them sexually aroused, whereas a fat person can choose to eat less or eat more healthy when faced with insurmountable food options. I do sympathize a bit with those born with an addiction to food, but only to the same degree that I sympathize with those born with an uncontrollable sexual attraction to children.

1 comment:

  1. You look at people like they are helpless automatons. Not everybody can be born into your Obama utopian world. This idea creates more work for airlines. Now they have to weigh people pre flight and whose to say what weight you have to be to be considered obese?



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