Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I knew that David Varnes’ pro-exercise rebuttal, “Physical health boosts a nation” (Japan Times, Sunday, January 5, 2014) of my anti-mandatory participation letter “Most don’t care about workouts” (Japan Times, Sunday, December 29, 2013) was out there. In short, there is more money in physical fitness therefore in a capitalist society people must be herded towards physical fitness through participation - coerced if necessary - for the good of the balance sheet and the quarterly profit statement. In extreme cases people can be subjected to economic and legal sanctions, a restriction of civil rights, disenfranchisement and ostracism if their lifestyle choices are deemed too costly to the office, the insurance company, the hospital and the government. The dehumanizing features of this perspective are scary. I understand that money is important, but the truth is that it’s not that important. Come on! There is more than enough coercion in the world already, some societies much more than others, but it’s ubiquitous and I wish it would stop. Particularly nasty are those who coerce us with an unctuous smile and condescension. I want to be free.
Do you have a pre-existing medical condition? Sorry, no health insurance for you. Do you smoke tobacco? Sorry, we can’t hire you. Do you eat chocolate or drink alcohol? Sorry, no drivers license for you. Do you watch more than two hours of television per week? Sorry, you are subject to inflated utility fees. Do you oppose mandatory physical education for school children? Sorry, you can’t be allowed to bear children. Do you disagree with us? Sorry, you can’t vote.
I don’t dispute that “Study after study shows one simple fact: Healthier adults do more; are on average more creative, better workers; and have happier lives than overweight and obese adults.” But I dispute each and every one of those points. In particular the idea of happiness. Conventional ideas of happiness are greatly over rated.
Published on Sunday, January 12, 2014 as “Happiness starts without coercion.”
There’s nothing new about social engineering, but it’s disappointing that people don’t recognize it, or call it for what it is, or condemn it.