Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Let's Mandate All the "Essentials" for a Really Good Free Life

An open letter to the President from Allysia Finley published by The Wall Street Journal:

Dear President Obama,

Can you believe the nerve of employers? Many of them still seem to think that they should be allowed to determine the benefits they offer. There are still many essential benefits that the government must mandate to make the U.S. the freest country in the world.

    • Fitness club memberships. Most doctors agree that exercising is one of the best ways to prevent disease. However, gym memberships can run between $240 and $1,800 per year. Such high prices force us to choose between exercising and buying groceries. While we could walk or jog outside, many of us prefer not to.

    • Massages. Stress raises the risk of heart disease, obesity, depression and a host of other maladies.  However, since few of us can afford massages, it is imperative that employers be required to cover weekly massage treatments or hire in-office masseuses.

    • Yoga classes. Like exercise and massage, yoga reduces stress and can relieve back pain, osteoarthritis and even menopausal symptoms.

    • Coffee. Studies show that coffee can ward off depression, Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes and sleepiness—which makes it one of the most powerful preventive treatments. Oh, and workers must also be able to choose the kind of coffee regardless of the price.

    • Salad bar. Studies also show that eating a lot of salad helps people maintain a healthy weight, which is key to preventing diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

      I'm sure Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and your political adviser David Axelrod could produce a legal memorandum explaining why they are necessary. Besides, if you can justify a mandate on individuals to buy health insurance, this should be a piece of cake.

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