Sunday, November 22, 2015

Healthcare and Education

Pink Floyd's The Wall.  Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2

In my previous rant I railed on the so called pursuit of happiness, and liberty.  Two very important things that I feel come with finding happiness, and liberty are education and healthcare.  Think about it, even if you assume that happiness is within, that requires having a healthy body to find it.  However, while I do see some merit in the concept of happiness being within, having money can make some very miserable situations tolerable.

Like so many of my peers, I elected to eventually grace a random University with my presence.  I went to further my education level, so that I could advance my social level.  Now, I am not going to say everyone should go to college, if you can make hay without a college degree, then make hay.  Make as much hay as you can while the sun shines.  I finally went because I felt trapped, I was stuck in a low wage job, where I was freezing in the winter, being sucked dry by insects in the summer, while I destroyed a brand new F150.  I had gone from living on my own, to living at home with the parents, having the money to do what I wanted with a little savings, to not even being able to spend an extra penny on so much as a beer.

So, I like so many others, was sold a bad bill of goods.  But hey, I am not going to complain about not earning a ton of money because of a degree.  The experience alone was worth the price.  I met a ton of people, got to think about many different subjects, meet people who help the polar opposite views, and engage in some very worthwhile discussions.  I remember when I graduated, nearly a year before my Dad took ill and passed, that he was crying for joy.  I had done something that only one person in his entire family had done, something that only my Mom had done.  In that moment, he had the greatest happiness I have ever seen.  New cars, rebuilt muscle cars, homes, his own great achievements at work were eclipsed, they no longer mattered.  In his mind, at that moment, the good ole days were here again.  In hindsight, I took it as par for the course, I mostly applied myself, had good results, I put in time and effort, and received the desired results.  For him, oh man, for him, you would have thought I had become president of the United States, came back a conquering hero.  He beat that horse to death, and then kept beating it with the family.  No matter who else followed me, they would always be second in his book, that was his pride.  I do believe that most people are like that when their kids graduate from high school, and college should they go.  If and when my eventual kids get there, I will probably be the same way.  But I digress. 

You see, education at every level is important.  From the basics of reading and writing, to a decent understanding of mathematics and science.  But we also need to remember critical thinking, and reasoning skills.  Without those a person is sunk before they even get started.  Yeah, it appears Carlin was right once again, people are wanted to be educated enough to run the machines, to stock the stores,be the fry cooks, but uneducated enough to be pacified, to not see just how bad things are.  Then people are told, if you work really hard, you'll make it, you'll be happy, but only if you work really really hard. Yeah, and people would told for centuries that if they prayed really really hard, they would go to the good place (heaven) and not the bad place (hell).  But when people are better educated, they tend to see through the BS.  Sure, it doesn't have to be a textbook education, the real world can educate most people really quick, but I am all for giving people a fair shot to figure it out before they get eaten alive.

Otherwise the merits of education in a school setting still stand.  The prospects of making more money, to getting into a profession that they love, to be able to own a home, a car or two (maybe), to do the things they want to do without having to worry about life caving their skull in like a baby seal.  But nope, we are constantly cutting educational funding on a state and federal level.  We have states that want to "teach the controversy, let kids make up their minds."  We have schools using textbooks that are not a reflection of real history or science, and in one state, they actually fought and succeeded in getting away with not fact checking them.  Education declines, the standard of living declines, a vicious cycle, in which everything continues to circle the bowl.

But lets move on from education, and talk about healthcare.  So, here is how this is going to go.  I do not like the PPACA, I never have, I likely never will.  To say it is a bad bill, not in its entirety, but as a first step to something better, it will have to do.  Honestly, the thing is over complicated, the mandates and fines for not carrying insurance are not good things to have.  But to be fair, there are a great many exemptions included, had a utility cut for no payment, exempted.  Been homeless in the last two years, exempted.  Did an immediate family member expire?  If you said exempted, you are our winner.  Okay, I said I don't like the PPACA, but I don't hate it either, it has its moments, and it is a decent attempt to make sure that we start making healthcare something more than a required luxury item. 

I said previously that to be happy, one needs to be healthy.  If you are sick all the time, or your body (including your mind) is broken down, you are not going to be a very happy person.  You are not going to be a productive person either.  Sure, I can get around on a bad knee and ankle, most of the time, people really don't realize just how bad my knee really is.  Of course, there are people who have it a great deal worse than I do.  I know people who are younger than me, who have a lot more serious physical conditions that make it very difficult to work, and the fact that they can now get healthcare, and do not have to deal with lifetime caps is a great thing.

But the fact is, we really need to get into a single payer option.  Yes, I am going to beat that dead horse, because it is one that needs beating.  If we have a single payer option, we could make sure all people have insurance, no need for fines or exemptions.  To make sure that people are secure in the knowledge that no matter how sick they become, they will not have to worry about medical bills. 

I will go further, we should have a government option for auxiliary insurance (think Aflac), and life insurance, to ensure that should the worst come to worst, you aren't sitting in a position like my own.  Look, those things can wait a bit, right now lets get the single payer option going, then get into these things.  But the hitch.  At this point, the GOP is only concerned with repealing it, and Clinton is only concerned about a tax increase of around 8% to cover this single payer option (depending on the source), while we currently spend roughly 15% to 18% (again source dependent). 

Again, to find happiness, you have to be healthy.  The easiest way to solve the healthcare as a problem is a single payer option.  Ensure that people are not being bankrupted by medical bills, and yeah, it still happens.  From there, we create an government funded auxiliary and life insurance policy to cover some of the loss (I'm not saying a cool million for everyone, but enough to ensure that we don't have people becoming homeless because an immediate family member dies), and that at the very least people can have the knowledge of knowing that if they were to die, family members would have a chance to come up for air before all hell breaks loose.  To find happiness, you need to be educated enough to realize that you are not happy.  To be able to get into the jobs that afford you the ability to be happy.