Imaginary Brazilian Revolution

Brazil is a state of carefree serenity. Brazil is attained by forsaking sanity.

Return . . . I will . . . to old . . . Brazil.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Opting Out

Every once in a while I get this strong desire to just opt out of the whole damned rigamaroll that is modern life. You know, like when Kramer tried to opt out of mail, but full scale. The most recent trigger for me was thinking about what a freakin' mess our system of health care is. I don't need to go into the details of how screwed up things are, but I'll just say that it is a source of great angst to me that the insurance and health care industries encroach so extensively into my life. It's like they've been allowed to levy a very heavy extra-governmental tax. And health insurance is nearly as compulsory as government taxes because, due to the insane cost of health care, if you opt out you run the risk of complete financial ruin should something unfortunate happen.

Health insurance was the trigger, but it's not my only source of angst. I also hate that I have to own a car, that I have to depend on people who want to kill me for fuel to heat and light my home, that the people that make the decisions that shape society are jackass aristocrats, that clocks are more important than the sun, and so on. So my dream is to just opt out of the whole dang thing and move somewhere near the equator to hunt and gather.

The problem is that, like Kramer discovered, there are goons with clubs that keep you in the system. Imminent financial ruin is the goon that keeps me paying health care tax year in and year out. There's also the internal goons of greed and materialism that loom large. And some of the goons even have some valid points, like the fact that there is happiness and fulfillment to be found in being part of society. I'll never escape, you know. I'll never have a solar panel and I'll never stop dancing for the man.

Oh well. At least I have Brazil.


At 2/28/2006 9:03 PM, Blogger Lyman said...

I have a very sappy comment..
I will agree that there alot of problems in our country, not the least of which is the legal system, but we are still the greatest country in the world.
Told you it was sappy. Sometimes you have to play the games and deal with it. I do understand your frustrations. Kramer was on the right track though...

At 3/01/2006 6:17 AM, Blogger Tom said...

My gripe is more about modern life than anything specific to American life. Our health care system is uniquely screwed up--we spend a greater portion of our income on health care than any other industrialized country--but I'm not sure other countries are dealing with it the right way. Liberals want universal health care provided by the government, which would really be great, but in order to pay for it we'd have to be taxed even more heavily than we already are.

I think if health care prices were set entirely by free market forces, they wouldn't be so mind-numbingly, astronomically, insanely high. But we've allowed a system to be set in place that exists outside of the free market and prices are artificially high because of it to the extent that not having insurance means financial ruin if something goes even relatively mildly wrong. Meanwhile, the insurance companies are raking in the dough. They've got a pretty sweet set up.

I know you have to play the game. You have to bend over and take it from the Man. You can't opt out. Which is what sucks.

By the way, it might not be clear, but when I say that at least I have Brazil, I'm referring to the mental state of carefree serenity, not the country. I can retreat into insanity and all of my cares will vanish.

At 3/01/2006 11:55 AM, Blogger Lyman said...

My dear long winded brother-
First of all, all geniuses are insane or at least have an insane world they can go to from time to time, so if you don't have one, get one.
Next, I’m not saying that I agree with it, but would the extra tax we pay for universal heath care be less than what we pay now in premiums and insurance? If I remember correctly, in it's infancy, Insurance was going to be regulated by the government, then some bribes were paid out and the government has let them more or less do what they please. Also I'm not sure if being regulated is the answer either. Could you imagine insurance prices adjusted by a few politicians? You are right in the fact that you have to have insurance. The reason I stayed with Safeway and was able to feel comfortable enough to leave for the railroad was in large part the benefits I received. As you know, good benefits can add a few dollars per hour to your wage even though you don't actually see it in writing(without a lot of work on your end anyway.) Maybe what you need to do is get in on the other end. Become "The Man" instead of bending over for him. Find a scheme were people pay you 10 times the amount you give them.

At 3/01/2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Lyman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3/02/2006 5:42 AM, Blogger Tom said...

That's a good question about whether we would spend less on increased taxes than we are currently spending on health insurance. For people in my situation that would definitely be the case, since people in my situation don't pay any taxes. But as income goes up the tax burden goes up. So people in your situation (filthy rich retail barons) would have enough of an increase that it would start approaching the break even point. Taxes for people above the break even point would have to increase more than they currently spend.

In principle it all sounds very nice--get the people who can afford it to pay for the health care of poor people who can't. This already happens in the case of medicare and so many other welfare programs. And to a certain extent I think it is right that we have some sort of welfare system in place to provide a bit of a safety net for people down on their luck. But too much socialism is bad news. Taxes have to be so high that, not only are individuals too heavily burdened, but the economy is stifled, making things worse for everyone. As far as I can tell, socialism hasn't helped Europe. Free market capitalism, which on paper looks cruel and cold, has proven to be the best way to spread more prosperity to more people, despite all you hear about the gap between the rich and the poor growing. In what other society in the history of the world has the working person, the physical laborer, had a better quality of life (well, besides the nomadic hunter gatherers)? I can't say for sure that 20th century American life is the best for the working folk because I don't know all history, but it seems to me like our economic system has done a bang-up job of spreading prosperity and opportunity around. Our biggest problem being the lack of opportunity for inner city kids.

Lack of government oversight, though, can be a problem, as we have seen with the health care problems. I'm not a fan of too much government intervention in the marketplace, but something's got to be done about health care. It can't keep going up more than 10% a year.

The funny thing about the insurance companies being left alone by the government is that a lot of their bribery isn't even illegal. Sure, bribes in the technical sense are illegal, but contributions to campaign funds and trading favors are legal. Messed up.

At 3/02/2006 5:43 AM, Blogger Tom said...

By the way, I've decided to throw conciseness out the window. I am long winded and I am proud.


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