I talked with my mom’s current social worker at the rehabilitation center earlier today. At the end of the conversation, she acquiesced that the whole social security, Medicare, Medi-Cal thing is far too bureaucratic, complex and frustrating. Then you look at all the convoluted things you have to do just to qualify for something that anyone with common sense could see: someone just needs help. That circle of frustration is just red-tape with no purpose that takes weeks to handle, whereas results are required immediately.
But I’m certain this doesn’t stop with just these three parts of American services. The reality about America is that it’s too big, with too many competing interests and too many people to serve. To make that all work, America has throughout time done a patch work job of satisfying (i.e. shutting up) special interest groups whenever they squawk too loudly or pour enough into the hidden pocket of some lawmaker. And along the way, people have turned towards specialists who seek to subvert laws through carefully evasion via loopholes that are more rhetorically generated than something anyone with an ounce of common sense could see through.
I feel that the rate at which America is going the entire system will collapse in 5-10 years. Part of the collapse will occur monetarily when institutions like social security dries up by supposedly being used up. Recent reports say that these services have a short life span because people are having health problems more frequently. Obviously, if you examine contemporary lifestyle, you see health problems arise due to factors in life style changes that probably started in the 90’s. These life style changes can be attributed to the increasing stress as a result of constant worries over recessions and an unstable economy, inflation, the lack of stability and trust in the overall system by the middle class, the increasing office time which leads to less balanced life styles, the emphasis on fast food as a result of convenience, the massive push of drugs by the pharmaceutical companies to supposedly help cure these postmodern health conditions (e.g. diabetes type 2, depression, high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), etc.
This without question is primarily a middle class problem. But what isn’t said about all this is that the end result is the push towards the middle class (i.e. the elderly) towards the lower end. Meaning that as people grow older here, without the proper setup (and this seems to have occurred in the baby boomers), the elderly are slowly being swamped by the lack of proper financial and health support while the younger people have the encroaching problem of high cost of schooling from loans and the lack of skills necessary to compete in securing a decent job.
I’ve read a few articles on how part of the problem was because of a certain school of economics thought. If that idea is, indeed, true, the whole model must be revamped to account for the absolute failure that is increasing as time passes.
What really is necessary in America isn’t an economic model nor a massive law system. What is needed is pure simplicity. It’s really just common sense. We need only a few basic laws in place: 1) do not steal from each other; 2) do not kill each other; 3) don’t be stupid; 4) treat others as you would like to be treated. You probably can just get away with 4) as the ultimate rule at the end of the day. But that rule ought to form the basis of the rest of American society.
Part of the revamp in American society, as I propose, is to do exactly what the book/movie Fight Club had suggested: reset everyone’s credit to zero. I would go further and say that we need to re-think the whole idea of pricing. Here’s the thing: pricing in this world is utterly messed up. It’s why the world at the end of the day makes no sense. Because pricing does not make sense. Here’s some examples:
- Medical cost – This should be free to everyone. The thing is that in order for society to function, people must be healthy. If people are afraid of being penalized, then society will always function in a substandard way.
- Housing cost – Everyone should be able to live some where. Having substandard living conditions allow for things like disease. So at the very basics, there needs to exist reasonable housing that is accessible for everyone. This housing should be maintained to certain standards so that people are healthy.
- Food cost – Why should crappy fast food cost so much? People say it’s cheap but that’s actually the past tense. At any rate, there should exist something where basic healthy food is part of the standard diet.
- CEOs with extravagant pay. Let’s take Eric Schmidt as an example. Recently, it was noted that he received $110 million for his services as a bonus after departing Google. While it’s true that under his leadership the company grew to where it’s at now. However, $110 million as a pure figure no matter how you cut it is a ludicrous figure. How much of that does he really NEED? My mom just needs 0.1% of that to handle her hospital bills, but I’m certain this guy won’t give up a penny to help her.
I can go on from here. Part of the problem is that Americans have been living and are expecting to live in excess. Go to a Yahoo forum and post ideas of true equality and you’ll see people label you a socialist or communist (and I’m certain most of the posters have no clue what true socialism nor communism is). The thing that they’re defensive about is their precious possessions. Somehow Americans have managed to trick themselves into thinking that they need to be individuals through distinguishing themselves not through merit, but their material belongings. Why else would Americans all want big fat houses? Couldn’t an apartment suffice? And if you need a larger home, is that because the person (or people) could not stop fucking and mistakenly had too many kids without restraint nor thought? Or perhaps these people have so much junk they need to put their stuff some place?
Similarly, I think Americans continuously delude themselves into believing in the original American Dream. It’s not just having the 2 car garage, home, kid, dog, wife, kitchen, 2 cars, etc. Now, people want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page/Sergie Brin. So everyone has to hit that billion dollar valuation because MTV, the film industry, etc. have clouded Americans into cocaine party filled fantasies. No one is content simply just having a roof over their head, some decent, healthy food, doing a little exercise and being with the loved ones anymore.
This is partly why prices are out of control. Not to mention people want things for free or cheap. And not just free and cheap, but the best quality. Let’s be honest folks: you can’t win everything. But on top of that, people want all this for doing nothing. Well, hey why do you think companies outsourced to India or other countries? Or why do you think Americans have been losing their jobs? You can’t expect to demand too much for doing nothing and get away with it.
In examining this mentality, we can see now that the attitude and expectations of Americans must be rebuilt as well. I think it’s great that the system allows people or companies like a Facebook, Google, etc. to rise up. However, not every idea is a billion (or trillion) dollar one. And not everyone will rise to the top. In other words, people have to start learning to be content with what they have.
As a result, I believe that while certain services should be free, to allow for the best to arise, we need to say that excess is possible. Certain things aren’t absolute necessities such as entertainment or luxury goods. Or quantity/quality items that aren’t relevant to serving our basic needs. For instance, owning a swimming pool, having a BMW, possessing large amounts of jewelry and name brand boots, etc. Things defined as excess should have excessive prices. But those excessive prices are not an indicator that the item is “great” but simply something someone truly wanted as a result of the extra effort they put in to earn it.
The thing is that I really don’t care about the excessive. I believe that element is easier to define. However, serving basic needs is something we need to do a better job of handling. For instance, if a person has a stroke, it’s obvious that they need help. That help should be readily available with no strings attached. Why? If you have to force an answer here, then you have a real issue. But to put it plainly, the person needs to function. There’s enough variables in this world (not to mention our own stupidity) that will expedite our own deaths. But there is no real excuse for not providing basic care in a dead easy manner.
Take for instance my mom’s situation with the stroke. What should happen isn’t so much all this proof of attempting to qualify by meeting certain standards. Instead, agencies need to get out of the way, provide definitive answers rather than redirects and offer assistance on the fly. In other words, whatever gets help to you faster is what needs to occur.
At the moment, I think because these agencies are government ones, they’re slow with tons of paperwork and have just too many middle men. The middle men, imo, are put into place to fill out spots because the government needs to employ people who probably aren’t very skilled and have to justify their existence in society. What really is required is a simple computer system that contains people’s information and is able to produce all the proper information immediately. Rather than having difficult trees of laws, they need answers for people who have questions.
At any rate, the bottom line is that America can in no way sustain the current model of life. I doubt that the government, in its current form, will institute any form of drastic change to improve things. But a revolution is imperative if the country wants to prolong itself.