My wife told me I was nuts when I recently suggested to her that grossly overweight people ought to be taxed as a means to curb the epidemic of obesity in America.
Every year, before the April 15 tax deadline every American would have to report to a federal weigh-in station where inspectors would record the weight and body/mass index of every adult citizen. A tax of, say, $10, would then be levied on every pound in excess of the official “acceptable” weight.
I admit it was an insensitive and even cruel idea. But it was born out of frustration. Everyone agrees that the obesity problem is serving to bankrupt the health care system, but it seems that few solutions take into account personal responsibility.
Instead, we hear of things like state “soda taxes” and calorie-count menus that unfairly affect everyone—consumers and businesses alike. My idea was merely meant to apply an incentive to those who have the great need for a push…and a penalty tax would undoubtedly change bad behavior, i.e. eating too much fattening food. Money talks.
But I realize that an obesity tax would probably create more problems than it would solve. Individual medical issues alone render the idea stupid, either as serious policy or satire.
Nevertheless, I think I’m on to something when it comes to tying financial incentives to the goal of a thinner, healthier America.
So here’s another proposal. Let’s totally revamp physical education in the schools. I say gym classes be fully restored to three-day-a-week programs that are geared to total fitness.
Gym teachers will be forced to spend more time on the physical development of ALL students rather than concentrating their efforts only on the superior varsity athletes.
I suspect that over the last several years, gym teachers have strayed from the mission of providing a tough, but healthy curriculum of physical education. It seems that in too many high schools, there has arisen a phenomenon of the cult hero coach whose main goal is to build super teams that win division titles and make headlines.
This is all well and good, but it loses sight of one important thing,. Their job is not to become imitation Big Ten coaches and cult heroes; their job is to educate.
I propose that gym classes be turned into brief, boot camp sessions—with running and calisthenics. Fitness tests would be administered on a yearly basis and grades would be assigned.
Those tests would be just as important in assessing the performance of a school as reading and math tests.
And here’s where the monetary incentive idea comes in. Everybody complains how school superintendents are overpaid and laden with perks. Right? Well, under my war on obesity, a significant portion of superintendents’ pay would be tied to how well they succeed at getting their students in shape.
The measurement of that success would be the fitness test scores.