Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sugar Tax

I read an interesting (unpublished) paper taking a Millian approach towards the taxing of unhealthy foods the other day. Turns out to be rather topical, since the BBC reports calls to raise tax on sugary drinks. I'm curious to know whether this would include orange juice, as well as cola, and why it shouldn't also include alcohol, on a calorific basis.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Revising Medal Tables

I mentioned in an earlier post that the London 2012 Olympic medal tables aren't finally final until 2020, since drug cheats can still be punished later. I see today that Lance Armstrong has just been stripped of a medal from Sydney 2000. This is actually even longer after the event than I thought possible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Horse Burgers

It seems that scandal has erupted over the presence of horse meat in beefburgers. Apparently burgers sold as beef in fact contained both horse and pig meat. This is mentioned in the BBC report, but what I find strange is that the main focus seems to be given to the horse element.

I'd have thought it far worse that these burgers contain pig, given that many people have moral/religious objections to eating pork. No one, so far as I know, has any particular moral objection to eating horse (ethical vegetarians do of course object to eating horse but not horse in particular - they wouldn't eat beef either for the same reasons).

Of course it's true that horses aren't usually considered food in the UK, but there's no particular reason for this - I understand that the French happily eat horse meat. I think this highlights the somewhat arbitrary nature of what is and is not considered food, particularly when it comes to animals. (A further BBC feature follows this up, here.) But it's also surprising to see more focus here on what I take to be an aesthetic matter than a religious/moral one, given that most people usually hold the latter to be more important.

(Of course I don't mean to deny that there's a general objection here that consumers were misled about the content of what they were eating, which may be the most serious issue of all - but this doesn't explain the focus on horse meat.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Blog

I realised that I've been blogging here for over seven years. I never knew it would last so long when I first set out. Up until now, my blogging has been done exclusively here, barring the odd guest post (and Twitter, if that counts as blogging).

Recently I've created a new blog here. This new one isn't to replace this one. Whereas Praesidium is a personal blog with a fairly wide-remit, the new blog - as the name implies - is focused on organ policy. It's to tie-in with a grant I was recently awarded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh for a series of workshops on organ policy. If that's an area that interests you, then be sure to follow the Organ Policy blog for updates.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Incentives to Lose Weight

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable Christmas/New Year. Around now many people are probably starting new year diets in an effort to shift the extra holiday pounds. Apparently, however, Westminster Council are threatening to cut benefits for obese or unhealthy people who refuse to exercise (or lose weight?).

Long-time readers will no doubt be aware of my interest in incentives (click on the tag for more). This is a slightly unusual case. There seems, intuitively, to be a difference between cutting benefits and offering extra benefits. On the other hand, this also seems to be two ways of describing the same thing, so it may merely be a framing effect.