A standard point around here is that the existence of some problem does not justify yet more action to solve that problem. What we should - and need - to be doing is to look at how much of that problem remains after whatever it is we do to reduce it. Only then can we see whether we need to be doing more, less, or just carry on, in our solution to the ailment.
For example, looking at market incomes tells us nothing about how much tax and redistribution should be done to reduce inequality. It is only looking at post-tax and post-benefit incomes, and by preference moving over to looking at consumption not income, that can possibly tell us that more needs to be done or not. Climate change may well mean that we’d prefer there to be fewer coal fired power stations in the future. But that requires our looking at how many such we’re going to have in the future, not assuming that matters will remain as they are. Given that new coal fired investment is plummeting, solar being the new investment of choice in many places, shows that much of what we need to do about climate change has already been done. Inefficiently, possibly we didn’t even need to do anything anyway, but within the terms of the IPCC’s warnings much of it has indeed already been done.
Which brings us to that other terror of the age, the soaring diabetes rate:
The number of diagnoses of type 2 diabetes has fallen in an ‘encouraging’ sign, the charity Diabetes UK has said. Although three people are still being diagnosed every three minutes the equivalent of 552 cases per day, it is 27 cases fewer each day than in 2016 when there were 579 every 24 hours, nearly one person every two minutes.
202,665 people were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in England and Wales in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, down from 211,425 in 2016.
The charity Diabetes UK said they did not want to speculate on what the cause of the drop might be, but said they were still concerned about the large numbers of people developing the condition…
Sure, be concerned all you like. But what it shows is that it is possible to lower that rate without a sugar tax, without banning “junk food” adverts, without telling supermarkets how they may lay out their wares. It might even be that just telling people they might die if they don’t curb their consumption works.
You know, we humans might be ignorant - we certainly note there are things we don’t know about - but we’re also rational, we’ll respond to information and incentives.
Maybe it’s even possible that a full pile on to reduce the diabetes rate is justified. But that justification is and can only be valid if we look at what we’re already doing and only then muse upon whether we need to do more.
More importantly, that the diabetes rate is falling before all of those further curtailments of liberty that PHE is insisting upon shows us that we don’t have to give up freedom in order to gain that falling diabetes rate. So, well, let’s not give up liberty then, eh?