Friday, February 11, 2011

Societal trends...

Here's one that disturbs me. The growing trend for employers to poke their noses into the private lives of employees and what they do off the clock.

It's bad enough that our society tends to demand that people work 80-100 hour weeks, often for no extra pay. It's bad enough that many employers will discipline employees who turn off their cell phones...ever, for any reason. (There are occasions when society requires cell phones be turned of the worst offenders being somebody who refused to turn theirs off during religious services).

But there are growing trends for employers to refuse to hire smokers, or demand an employee lose weight.

And what worries me is that it meshes with the government's growing desire to be the public health Big Brother. For example, now jurisdictions are taxing regular soda in an attempt to encourage people to switch to diet. Of course, diet soda doesn't actually help you lose weight and recent studies indicate it increases stroke risk. This is probably down to aspartame, a common migraine trigger.

You don't have to be a libertarian to start worrying that governments and employers are going to start trying to dictate everything we eat and everything we do. What about people who choose to take part in risky sports...and their potential effect on health insurance premiums? And what about the fact that for some people, dietary requirements are different.

I once spent a week in a household where every member was on a diet. These people would not have anything in the house that was not low fat, low carb and low sugar. I was a guest and graciously requested that they allow me to have my own food. As a teenager and into my mid twenties, I had problems keeping my weight UP. In that week, I lost three pounds and became lethargic and lost energy, because their diet did not work for me and they would not respect my needs as a guest.

Everyone has DIFFERENT needs. And everything causes cancer...everything. Life causes cancer. Best not to worry about it, and find our own balance. We don't need to be threatened with extra taxes or, worse, losing our job if we don't follow the 'current standards' of diet and exercise.

And as the big brother trend continues, will we become a society afraid of risk?