Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Alabama "Fat Tax" Brings Back Memories

Alabama Plans to Tax Fat Employees to Recoup Insurance Costs

This reminds me of my days in the Army. The Army had their own version of the "Fat Tax," though their remedy was to discharge those who could not make their weight. In my day, I was fighting heredity and too much pizza and beer and had to constantly work out and run to keep under weight. There were those times when I didn't make it and had to have a "tape test" done. The Tape Test was a way of measuring body mass index. Being overweight and over the BMI was a bad thing.

I remember back in the 80's while stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, every so often on a Monday while we were working in the motor pool, the squadron commander came on one of this "Fat Safaris." He'd ride, standing up in the back of a Jeep hanging on to a roll bar, with some poor duty person driving and the sergeant major in the front seat. He'd scout around, and when he spotted someone he thought was too fat, he'd yell, "There's One!" The driver would go to where the CO pointed and they'd round up some poor person to take them back to the headquarters and weigh them, doing a tape test if needed.

It got to the point where when they saw the Jeep coming, the overweight ones would crawl into or under vehicles to avoid the humiliation of being caught in the "round up." Looking back on it now, though, it seems rather comical. The picture in my head makes me laugh. It wasn't the humiliation of those caught up in it, but the commander who had little else to do than to ride around the post looking for people to weigh.

My opinion of the Alabama situation? I can understand wanting to recoup what they consider money lost to a "lifestyle choice" but I think they're going about it the wrong way. Making smokers pay more for insurance is one thing - they can always quit. But some people can't help how much they weigh. I wonder if they won't spend more money on lost time and wasted energy making people jump through bureaucratic hoops to prove they can't lose weight. It's probably better left alone - or rethought out.

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