Let’s consider what happened to the tobacco companies. The courts found that the tobacoo companies were ultimately partially responsible for the deaths of their customers. Further, the plaintiff provided evidence that suggested that the tobacco companies 1) knew how dangerous tobacco was and 2) conspired to hide this information from the public.
Now let’s consider McDonald’s and the background first principles behind Obamacare.
Most liberatrian-minded people readily acknowledge that we need a government to safeguard our liberties. If a foreign enemy comes at us, we need a military to defend us. If we are going to have an infrastructure to support the movement of military and commerce, we need an interstate highway system. Now, proponents of Obamacare take the position that healthcare has now become on par with foreign invasion and interstate commerce, requiring the subsidized action of government to respond.
Here is where I diverge, and where McDonald’s could be in for a doozy of a pay out.
My take on libertarianism is that it acknowledges forces outside of the control of the individual. We need police because other individuals often attempt to violate the liberties of others. The same thing cannot be said for (all) healthcare-related issues.
For example, consider cancer. We don’t know exactly what gives people cancer, but we have a few ideas of what doesn’t. We don’t get it from door knobs. But we probably get it from a combination of genetics, environment and lifestyle. If your genes or the your diet prior to 18 are to blame, then it’s your parents who have the fiduciary responsibility to take care of your cancer. If it’s your genes and your diet after your 18th birthday, it’s you and your parents.
But what if the people responsible for supplying your dietary options 1)knew of the health consequences of the diet and 2) knowingly withheld, even through ommission, the likely health impact?
The body of evidence linking bad food to chronic health conditions is strong. Even so, we are tempted to put 100% of the blame on dietary content on the consumer. But we didn’t put 100% of blame on consumers of tobacco, did we?
One day, a jury might just make the same conclusion.