The cost of dying

The Sunday Telegraph tells us today that ‘modern life’ is killing our children. There’s been a 40 per cent increase in cancer diagnosis over the past 16 years, it says, because of air pollution, pesticides, poor diets and radiation.

Shall we guess how this illustrious rightwing organ will respond to the next call for companies to pay fines for polluting the air or to a suggestion that farmers should be forced to control their pesticide usage? These, we’ll be told, would be the restrictions of a nanny state, standing in the way of business enterprise and profit.

Another of the day’s news snippets concerns the local NHS Trust in York which planned to delay non-life threatening operations to overweight patients. It has, after some fierce criticism, had a change of heart – assuming it had any heart to begin with. Fat people, after all, are among the growing army of the undeserving.

Obesity, like air pollution and pesticide use, can be tackled by a caring state, but just remember the government’s recent response to the idea of imposing new laws to curb the excesses of food companies and retailers: a voluntary scheme, we were assured, would be enough.

Yes, those poor diets that are killing our children and swelling our waistlines may be caused by the sugar and fat pumped into our processed foods, but don’t let’s get tough on the companies who produce them.

There’s always a price to pay – and we know who ends up paying it.

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