walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

The Bigger Picture, or, why I am not impressed by Pollan

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/opinion/10pollan.html

Michael Pollan argues that if we can successfully reform health insurance, they'll have to figure out a way to deal with the unhealthy food environment we live in and all the activists trying to reform the food industry will get a big ally with big money.

Let us contemplate, for a moment, what happened when Massachusetts regulated the auto insurance industry because everyone got priced out of the market around Boston. What was going on around Boston, of course, was batshit crazy driving: insane levels of aggression, manifesting as no one willing to walk anywhere because they would die, and huge levels of rear-end accidents. High levels of drink driving and high levels of single car accidents, for that matter. What improved things? Did the auto insurance industry lobby for stronger enforcement and a change in the driving culture in Massachusetts? Not as far as I have been able to determine. No, they just got out of the business in Massachusetts. Eventually, in order to avoid having to provide all the insurance, the state started doing what it should have been doing all along: enforcing the law, and passing a few more to address the aggression.

Is the home insurance industry lobbying Florida to change zoning and building codes in Florida?

Yeah, Pollan can be as optimistic as he wants to be. I'm going to be skeptical.

ETA: R. comments on FB that theft was a big problem in Boston (at the time). On the one hand, again, it's all about enforcement and shutting down the chop shops and, as he notes, getting VINs on the parts. OTOH, the insurance companies gave a big discount for having lo-jack, which is a reasonable parallel for things health insurance could do to encourage healthy behaviors. Perhaps I am being unfair to Pollan.
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