The cost of health insurance has once again worked its way into public discourse, due to the disclosure that the Affordable Care Act continues to mock its very title. While persons of certain political persuasions try to put lipstick on this pig to justify their own positions, the whole situation serves to illustrate one of the great absurdities of modern life.
There are cliches that describe it: Everyone wants to get to heaven, but nobody wants to die ... You can have your cake, and eat it, too. On the other hand: If you want to dance, you have to pay the piper.
Simply put, the only way to win in the health insurance game, is to lose. People are sold on the notion that it's worth x dollars now to avoid xxxxxx dollars later. No one wants to be tossed into bankruptcy by a devastating injury or illness, so we hedge our bets by buying insurance. The only way for this gambit to pay off is to have healthy people paying the bills of sick people. That's what health insurance does. It collects money from the healthy and (after paying the salaries for a few thousand employees, the bonuses of a handful of executives and the mortgages on a few state-of-the-art "wellness" palaces) redistributes the proceeds to the unhealthy. When the healthy balk at this redistribution plan, you get what the Affordable Care Act is today.
But in contemporary America, we seem to not understand this. We seem to think that we can fight wars in distant lands and fix roads and bridges while cutting taxes, pollute the air and water without consequence and dispense social justice by building more (privatized) prisons. And maybe the tooth fairy will take care of Social Security and Medicare.
We watch way too much TV here in the Slow Lane, but it's relatively inexpensive entertainment for this fixed-income couple. We usually pick up 2-3 new shows to watch each fall and this year is true to form. This Is Us and Designated Survivor have made it onto our must watch list this season. This Is Us is well-written, well-acted and the clever story lines seem (mostly) plausible to us. Survivor seems more like a miniseries to me, but it will be interesting to see if the writers can milk a full season out of what appears to be a one-trick show. My wife likes The Good Place, which is way too cutesy for me. Then again, I liked Brain Dead and she hated it.
We get lots of mail plugging local dental practices. Few dentists have basement offices anymore. New dental practices in the Des Moines area often are in spacious brick buildings with exotic fish tanks and cute little bonsai trees in the lobby. One local operation even touted the experience level of its staff. The eight staffers pictured in the ad had a total 15 years of experience, the ad said. Impressive.
For your listening pleasure:
Larry Lehmer is an author, former newspaper editor and keen observer of contemporary American life. He's also prone to curmudgeonry.