No, this is not the start of some bad joke. Instead, this is a short story about a panel presentation in a class on health policy yesterday. I was asked to participate in this discussion yesterday with the main focus of attention being obesity.
What was interesting about this presentation? Well, the three of us on the panel really didn't have all that different views of what causes obesity. A combination of factors that include the food environment, other parts of the market economy (like people's jobs), the "built" environment (like a lack of sidewalks for walking to school and exercise). We all agreed that is was partly a matter of social factors and partly a matter of individual choice.
Did we disagree? I think only on emphasis in terms of the policy solutions. As an economist, I tend to rank consumer sovereignty and market efficiency as the top two considerations. Not that I don't consider other things, but this is really what neoclassical economics is designed to focus on. My ethicist colleague is interested in "respect for the individual" (this sounds a little more gentle than consumer sovereignty) but then asks how the least well off in society are affected. Can an economist ask the question about the least well off? Sure, it is just not easy to quantifiably rank the least well of in comparison with others.
The discussion was interesting. Students gave it positive reviews. We'll probably do it again.
Lemon Zest, Turkish Apricot Scones
2 years ago