Despite claims that its health care system is going under, the behavior engineers in the United Kingdom propose paying the overweight to behave themselves. Under a £30-million campaign to improve health in the country, overweight parents will be paid by the state to walk their children to school, join a gym or enroll themselves in a weight reduction program. The program begins in Manchester, dubbed the most unhealthy city in England.

Details haven’t been worked out but one component would be loved by the governing class that has converted the United Kingdom into the most surveilled society in the western world. Those participating in cash for exercise could be monitored by having to swipe cards through electronic devices set up in parks, train stations and schools. The movement of the portly can then be monitored so that public cash would go only to those who aren’t trying to cheat the system. Electronic monitoring for an ostensibly good purpose can be easily converted into spying for more sinister reasons.

Critics of this pay-for-proper-behavior scheme abound but most are concerned about the potential for fraud rather than deploring the entire concept as an insult to what once was a proud people. Pride goeth before the fall is a biblical phrase used to warn people against excesses of arrogance. In our era pride in self-sufficiency, self-governance and moral rectitude slipped away long ago. The fall into despotism is just around the corner in Britain and in most industrial countries that bow down humbly before omnipotent public health.



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