Re-examining Rights

Got a minute?

Take a look at the statements below, and make a mental check mark next to the ones you agree with.

I have the right to a useful and remunerative job;

I have the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

If I am a farmer or a business person, I have the right to make enough money to provide me and my family a decent living; and the right to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

I have the right to a decent home;

I have the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

I have the right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

I have the right to a good education.

Which ones do you agree with? Which of these rights do you feel you don’t “have” but you do “want?”

I ask because I recently read this. Which I’m told was featured in Michael Moore’s Capitalism, A Love Story. (I guess I need to see this movie.)

What, if anything, does this have to do with fatness?

I would say it’s because we fat people are being framed.

The most fundamental causes of poor health aren’t obesity, or even “lifestyle,” but the social determinants of health.

As this brilliant journal article by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, (you can access the full PDF free from the link) states:

The hallmark theme of the new public health agenda is that it emphasizes the complexity of health determinants and the need to address systemic health inequities in order to improve population-wide health outcomes and reduce health disparities, making use of the evidence on the strong relationship between a person’s social positioning and their health. For example, research since the 1950s has documented huge differences in cardiac health between and across
socioeconomic gradients which has come to be recognized as arising from disparities in social standing and is articulated as the status syndrome [171]. Since weight tracks closely with socioeconomic class, obesity is a particularly potent marker of social disparity [172].

What do I want?

The right of all people to these things (in particular, but not exclusively):

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

I work in public health because I care about health, not weight. Weight/BMI is a terrible proxy for health or health risk. Unfortunately, exposure to poor economic circumstances, a lack of adequate educational opportunities, adverse childhood experiences and the stress of discrimination do have a predictable impact on current and future health.

This is why I can’t sit idly by and allow the meager safety net that’s in place in my state (Washington) be dismantled by people who say “there just isn’t enough money.” If that’s true — extend my driver’s license another year. Let the potholes go unfilled for another year. Take the money from services that aren’t essential for life, but benefit wealthy and poor alike, not only the poor and vulnerable. Or, what I think is a better idea, let’s do what I was raised to do and dig deeper into our pockets during tough times so our neighbors and family members can see their way through this economic crisis to better times.

I’ve already taken a pay cut, and had my health care costs go up (even while I learn that the massage therapist I just started seeing has taken a pay cut from my insurance company as well), but I hear that no one will support new taxes. I say, tax polar fleece! Tax lattes! Tax soda and candy (not because they are bad, but because they aren’t essential to life). Tax my income, and anyone who earns as much or more than me. I would gladly pay a happiness tax, as I’m satisfied with what I have even though I earn less than the median income in my state or the country as a whole. I might someday resist increasing these taxes, but at the moment, I would sleep better at night and feel better during my waking hours knowing that the fellow residents of my state have their basic needs met. That would likely sustain my happiness more than another layer of polar fleece, another latte, another can of soda, or another chocolate bar.

Well, I’ll buy the chocolate bar, no matter how much it costs. Wanna spit it?



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4 responses to “Re-examining Rights

  1. You are such a commie. You need to move to Canada 🙂

    • Awwww, that’s sweet. Thanks for calling me that, I’m blushing.
      I don’t think I could become a citizen. Isn’t where I live close enough to Canada? Not close enough for universal health care, I guess 🙂

  2. Yes, you need to see that movie and Sicko if you haven’t already. Michael Moore gets a lot of hate, but deep down he’s an awesome and heartfelt guy always fighting for the underdog. When I saw him a few months ago (he was accepting an award at a college) I was shocked that he made disparaging remarks about his body. I was disappointed more than anything. But I completely agree with what you said above. Rock on!

    • I remember reading your post about seeing Michael Moore. I really do like his movies, I’ve just been unable to watch much that isn’t rated G or can hold a young child’s attention for the past 5 years or so. Maybe I get in two “grown-up” movies a year, and I’m generally looking for escapism at that point.
      I think we need to send Michael Moore some Valentines letting him know how sexy he is!

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