'If a problem is about everything, it's about nothing'. That, believe it or not, is Tory health honcho Andrew Lansley, in the course of addressing the latest outbreak of health inequality outrage. Lansley has recently steered quite close to saying the unsayable - that people consciously choose to be unhealthy and die young, by smoking, drinking, eating badly and taking dangerous drugs. They do these things because they want to. Whenever the media pluck up the courage to do a vox pop on the streets of these enclaves of fabulous ill health, that is pretty much what the locals tell them - but of course it does not compute with the mindset that values good health and long life above all things, so it gets ignored.
In fact, we should be grateful that there are so many people out there who don't share that healthist view. By a cynical calculus (of a kind no government would care to own up to), those who drink and smoke a lot and die young not only contribute disproportionately to the exchequer, but also save other taxpayers a fortune in unpaid old age pensions. When smoking was near universal, this suited all governments just fine, as lung diseases could be relied on (generally speaking) to kick in fairly soon after retirement, ending a productive, tax-paying life before much pension had been paid. And now they want us to give up smoking, and drink and eat sensibly - ha! The more healthy the population gets, the more costly it's going to be for us all. So, carry on with your fun-loving, life-shortening ways, you hedonistic masses!