Sara Grillo is one of my favorite financial writers. In her most recent, she discusses how convenient it is for commission-paid salesmen of life insurance, annuities and long-term care insurance to emphasize how much longer people can live. These salesmen prey upon the “worst-case” fear of not dying. She goes on to point out that 39% of all Americans are obese, which statistically reduces longevity. The target market of these salesmen is 40-59 years old, where 44% are obese. This high-commission salesmen are selling products to people who are not likely to need them. My perspective is that there is always a need or demand for high-margin products — if not to buy, then certainly to sell.
As a society, we tend to be judgmental of people with weight issues. There are even politically correct words to use. But, it is more than a simple issue of morality or moral weakness. It is more than a simple issue of medicine and mortality. It illustrates one correctable weakness of our “free enterprise” system.
The most powerful industry in the U.S. is advertising. It tells us what we want, how we vote, and what we eat. Do you really think McDonald’s would spend billions to advertise high-margin junk food, if it could make as much money on healthy substitutes? If you are a purist that thinks companies should be able to advertise whatever they like, you would approve of prime-time TV commercials for assault rifles, whiskey, and “escort services.” The TV networks would love to sell high-margin air time to them.
Maybe, only radical socialists would advocate restrictions on advertising? But, can we not agree that “sugar kills?” Yes, it tastes good, but it is unhealthy. Can we not restrict advertisers from promoting sugar-cereals to kids, at least? Try buying products not spiked with sugar. One reason so many foods are spiked with sugar is that it is cheaper, due to huge sugar subsidies to a few American families who don’t need it. It may be politically convenient to accept campaign funds from the sugar families. It may also be a sin to approve of such subsidies.
To make America great again, use the funds subsidizing unhealthy sugar to subsidize the purchase of long-term care insurance.