Friday 16 October 2009

Healthists spoiling our fun

The New Zealand Herald today runs an op-ed from yours truly summarizing the argument I made in the CIS Policy piece. I like the headline they picked: " 'Healthist' doomsayers are spoiling all our fun".
Sometime soon, we'll see a report showing that the social costs of skiing are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It wouldn't be hard to produce a number that large. First, show frequent skiers are more likely to have accidents than recreational skiers.

Then, make the critical assumption that nobody could ever rationally decide to take risks - health is all that matters. Frequent skiers then are by definition irrational, and irrational people enjoy no benefits from their ski outings, no matter how happy they appear.

With this "zero benefits" assumption, every dollar spent on skiing by these harmful skiers is a social cost, as is the time these folks spend skiing. Add the realised costs from those folks who do have skiing accidents and you'd quickly have a number in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions.
Odds that somebody from Otago at Wellington's Public Health Department sends in a rebuttal op-ed giving their standard retort about how suffering the downside outcome can't be fun, totally ignoring the benefits to the multitudes who take the same risks but have a good time?

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