I grew up in a religion in which confession was a weekly ritual. As I child, I remember standing in line outside the confessional waiting anxiously for my turn to go into a dark private room and begin with the words, “bless me father, for I have sinned.” Then I would recite my litany of sins, both venial (minor-league stuff) and mortal (big time, major-league material that could land you in Hell for all eternity).
For an eight-year-old, mortal sins were deliciously angst-ridden. I remember agonizing over these epic sins that went beyond the vague, clumsy and occasional “impure thoughts” into the realm of a touch or two, or those times when I would just linger in the corridors of fantasy (I was the youngest of four boys and the inevitable “girly” magazines would end up under somebody’s mattress).
Nothing in life is certain, as the saying goes, except death and taxes. We live in a world of profound arbitrariness. No one has any control of where they’re going to be born, what kind of parents they’re going to have, and what economic and social status they’re going to born into. We don’t come into our lives with a warranty even if our parents are wealthy and live in the Hamptons. Life, in general, has an arbitrariness that few teleologists are comfortable with.
When it comes to Health Insurance in America, the crapshoot world of arbitrariness becomes even more transparent. If you just happen to be employed by an employer who pays 60% of your premiums, you’re one of the chosen. If your employer pays the deductible, then you’re one among the few. If you just happen to have a health-insurance policy that has dental, you are definitely in a minority, unless you’re willing and can afford to add dental to your basic coverage. And if you can afford a gold-plated policy with all of the medical amenities,including face-lifts, then you are, indeed, among the rich-and-famous.
(The next two blog entries I will be posting consist of a two-part series about the American Health Insurance crisis. In the first essay, I discuss the Health Care industry in the U.S. as a profit-driven corporation. In the second essay, I will be looking at privatized Health Insurance as a crap-shoot)
Before I begin this attempt at getting my mind around the issue of Health Care in America, let me preface my remarks by thanking Ann from Baltimore who has promised to intervene on my twitter messages when I become too obsessed and frantic about the state of private Health Insurance in America.
To those who have not heard of Ann from @annq, check her twitter venue out. She’s my steady force of calmness in the sometimes frenetic world of cyberspace. Love you, my dear.
Now, Let’s play ball.
Before I started to write an essay on surrender, I went to my twitter page and tried to send another one of my many “What are you doing” twitter messages. Up popped a mysteriously serious black-and-white message, “HTTP Server Error 503.” I was back in Kafka land, the world of high-tech jargon, a cosmos that leaves old-timers like me speechless and cantankerous.
By doing some google research, I found out that my provider (whatever that means) is allegedly “working on the problem,” but that I should expect a delay. Given the fact that I have no clue about providers, I was forced to surrender to the land of technological obscurity (And, by the way, I’m from New England: I’m a guy who doesn’t like to be “beholdin’,” especially to some invisible “provider”).
After experiencing this mixed curse of temporary high-tech impotence, I felt gently nudged to start writing my essay for a twitter-friend in Vancouver. So here I am, my initial procrastination morphing into foxhole surrender.
In economic hard times and an ever changing economy, older Americans are becoming increasingly paranoid about being let go or bought out by their employers—for the sake of raising the bar, let’s just call it the Willy Loman syndrome
Older full-time employees are often a high needs group in spite of the experience they bring to a workplace. Our salaries are often at the prime-rib level, our equity loans more numerous to pay for children’s colleges, our medical needs more extensive and expensive than they were when we were in our twenties.
Because I was well into my adulthood before I began to figure out who I am, it is difficult for me to see where the desire to know about myself could ever be a bad thing. The self-knowledge journey continues and, I hope, will be with me for the rest of my life.
On the other hand, there are those who would probably stereotype me as an effete, self-indulgent dilettante wandering around the ring of shamans and spiritual teachers, decadently immersed in questions rather than answers.
It is difficult to write a review of a novel that has significant events that cannot be revealed without destroying the tension of those events. In the same vein, Internet film reviews often caution their readers that the review contains spoiler information that gives away key plot information.
In the recent controversy over Health Insurance, it occurred to me that I remain an incorrigible Jekyll-and-Hyde when it comes to public services. On the one hand, I want my roads to be fixed, my DMV to have short lines, my Social Security Office to answer its phone. On the other hand, I complain every time an interstate highway toll is increased or when my real estate taxes go up.
In the same way, now that I’m on Medicare, I want to be assured that my doctors (for the most part, specialists required for old birds like me) will give me the same care I had when my private insurance was my primary insurance. As one of the lucky ones who got under the wire because of my age, being born at the right time, and choosing the right career, my drug copays are chump change in contrast to what I would have had to pay out of my pocket—$7,000-a-year—if I didn’t have my private insurance drug plan. Medicare Plan D? No thank you.
Sociologists have given us pretty accurate stats about the majority of us marrying or having intimate relationships, endogamously—that is, inside of our class, race, religion, and/or economic status. Exogamy is the exception, not the rule. Even if we know someone from another culture in the workplace, most of us still go home to our homogeneous and segregated communities.
The notion of marrying or living inside one’s own heritage and culture was constantly reinforced when I was growing up in the 1950s, an era that was in denial about how deep the racial and ethnic divides actually were.
I was listening to an NPR program, “On Point,” the other day and a writer was being interviewed about his book in which he claims that alcoholism is not a disease but an ism of choice.
I don’t believe there are too many recovering addicts or alcoholics who would give themselves over to the generalized assertion that all you have to do is “will” yourself into sobriety. Those of us who have been in the rooms for a while would not deceive ourselves into the naïve belief that one’s individual will can unilaterally “conquer” or defeat the enemy of addiction.