Friday, October 23, 2009

A Moment of Truth

You can pay one person a lot more for being the singular leader and governor of a society, but you cannot pay everybody the same for doing nothing -- or as little as possible, and expect the same good results.

That's basically what the problem in Hawaii is accelerating to be. You can not reward everyone equally well, while denying that differences in compensation, should be determined by "merit," and not just "seniority," regardless of whether one is doing the job well, or poorly. Societies based on that model, will come crumbling down -- when it is realized that the persons responsible for laying that foundation, never did so -- no matter how well everybody else did their jobs. That which was most crucial, was overlooked -- because nobody would notice once everything else was built up.

And so the clock has been set in motion -- to when it must ultimately fail, because those seeds have been planted. While one can create more high paying jobs, it must be while reducing total jobs -- and not increasing them by not getting the job done so that there can be even more high paying jobs. Then the whole purpose and reason for being of that compensation and reward, undermines the success of that success rather than creating the foundations for its ultimate and enduring success.

Very few societies are such stories of remarkable success; most end in failures. There are many more Haitis than there are Singapores. Most island-states particularly, are doomed to failure rather than the success garnered by being closer to the resources every society has to consume. The breakthrough societies, create new technologies and resources, while those that fail, mine and eventually exhaust the advantages they once had.

There is a reason for the geography and location of the great centers of civilization in the world. They had a natural advantage, and not a natural disadvantage -- that for a brief time in history, could be made to seem like an advantage -- of its isolation. That was before the realization that while being away from the madding crowd was often desirable, the great survival value lay in being "connected" -- not just geographically, but psychologically also, which is greatly influenced by the topography.

People who live on islands, or in rural isolated communities, cultivate personalities of isolation rather than community -- preferring their solitude, even when it is not advantageous to do so. That is also the dynamic of contention and struggle in the present time -- the public life versus the private life, and how those tendencies are resolved in the personalities of the evolving new world.

That is what every issue and controversy are fundamentally all about -- the private life versus the public life, and where does one end and the other begin? What is one's responsibilities to everybody else -- and what are one's responsibilities to themselves, if any, anymore?

In Oregon, a great fuss was made because a mentally ill patient died of natural causes and his death was not realized and reported immediately -- even by his own roommates, and became a cause for concern when he missed two meals, which was otherwise the joy of his existence since he was confined indefinitely for crimes of violence. Meanwhile in Hawaii, people will observe murders being perpetrated over ten minutes, and think nothing of it, or think to report it.

Where does one draw the line?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Don't Get Sick in the First Place

There's is a lot of discussion presently on health care insurance -- while completely ignoring the more vital discussion on the greater meaning of health (and all it implies) -- and if that is not well-defined first, there's no limit to the cost of health care, and therefore the problem spirals increasingly out of control.

If one is serious about addressing any problem effectively, one has to first to get to the root of the problem, and not just treat its symptoms -- which is a large part of today's contemporary health care problem. We treat the 400 lb. person in bad shape for their myriad of health problems, instead of addressing the CAUSE of most of these persons health problem -- in that this person is neglecting their own primary responsibility for their own health and well-being, and in the absence of that care and caring, the situation is hopeless and will consume all the money, time and effort into maintaining that problem -- rather than addressing and eliminating it.

The profit in health care, is obviously maintaining the lives of people in poor conditions and health -- rather than serving the healthy person who seldom, if ever, requires those services -- even to the insistence that one should have frequent, regular checkups.

I've fortunately had doctors who were honest enough to inform me that was not an ironclad requirement for maintaining health -- but told to come in if I got hit by a car or something seriously catastrophic, because there was very little medicine and health care could do to get me in better health that even they thought possible. "You obviously know what you're doing, and can take better care of your own health than we can. But if you get hit by a truck, we can help."

I've actually had quite a bit of exposure and even friends in the health care business because of a lifetime involvement in exercise and conditioning, and then my first job out of college was as a medical research subject as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war, and so I was more than intimately knowledgeable about my personal medical and health profile. I was actually released from that position on the mutual agreement that I was not suited for those studies because I had too many personal deviations from the norm -- including that I had an intolerance to the basic dairy formula before if was discovered that a person could actually have an intolerance to dairy products (lactose). They thought I was just trying to get out of the studies by getting very sick -- and so I spent most of the recreational time everybody else had, having extensive extra studies done trying to track done my other profile deviations, from the typical Mennonite population sample that mostly composed the "conscientious objector" population from which they extrapolated their findings to the general population -- who of course, are decidedly not the inbred population Mennonites generally are.

So I developed a rare insight into the validity of the medical information -- and the methodology and conclusions of studies and research. A generation later, when I thought I had that experience safely behind me and had gone on with life with as minimal contact as I could without a heavy exposure to the health care system, I got involved with "caregiving," and actually was involved in the early labor organizing discussions of that group -- and their issues which would become increasingly critical and even explosive at some future time.

It was clear to me that the increasing reliance on others, including the health care system, was a dead end, and not the solution -- if each and every individual first and foremost, did not become their own primary caregivers -- of that much, I was certain. There is no future in a society in which it takes twenty to care for one -- and that was all that health care system was designed to support.

It had to be one to one, and each doing for themselves as much as humanly possible (what else are we here for?), before even the best designed health care support system could be effective.

That is the reason, I haven't been enthusiastic about better supporting the present health care system -- with their primarily financial concerns. As many have already pointed out, it's all about the money, and very little about health -- and what we are supporting, except the status quo of increased dependency and lack of accountability. There is no money for health -- only health care, and that can become infinite, depending on how many people we wish to support to do so -- unless we can define the terms of health to mean self-sufficiency and accountability.

Then we can talk about these things meaningfully.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Value of Everything

The more choices one has, the cheaper things get.

About a year ago, I started recognizing that I’d run into incredible pricing that I had to be prepared to recognize as “too good to be true” bargains immediately, and be prepared to seal the deal, or the next time I came in, the deal and all traces of it would be gone — carted away by the whole inventory by whoever could recognize that opportunity and was prepared to act on it immediately.

The famous fall in the stock market of one year ago, was the official marker of this disruption and discontinuity from the past — in which everything that used to be true, no longer was, and things that were not available before, now existed but most people, were still rooted in their conditioning of the 20th century — in which things just got more expensive — for the conventional and traditional things.

But then, towards the 21st century, many things that were prohibitive, actually became free — like online news, information, publications, youtube, etc. There are houses to be bought for $1 — somewhere, under certain conditions, but it probably won’t be prime real estate that is otherwise highly valued by most people. It is a niche market, in which you are the right person, at the right place, at the right time — and you have to recognize that opportunity and act on it.

Many people can not, because they’ll think unbelievingly, “This is too good to be true, there must be something wrong.” But the seller is not going to stand there convincing you what a great deal that is; he really wants to sell you something with a higher profit margin — to which he will expend all the time and attention you want — selling you on that fact.

He is honor bound to sell you what is “On Sale,” but you have to be the person who sells yourself on “the bargain,” because you’ve done your homework, and know all the offerings in the category, and the pricing, and can recognize it as such, because nobody else can, usually because they don’t have the confidence in their own judgment.

The deciding factor is not money but information; the best, can often be the cheapest now. Products and services go in and out of fashion. Some communities have a stubbornly high cost of living, while others are the new now places to be — particularly when people are now shopping the world, for best communities to live in. In the old mass media market, that was likely to be the same for everyone — but now they are niche markets, and so not all marketplaces are equal and the same.

Fortune and Money magazine constantly rate places on their desirability, depending one whether one wants to make more money, and differently, if your objective is to spend the least amount of money, for those on fixed incomes. One of the major developments, has been the rise of the status and value of fixed incomes, because obviously, during uncertain times, those with a small fixed income are actually better off than those who can boom or bust.

Right now, the frugal lifestyles are king, and those who are self-sufficient and self-sustaining, have a major advantage over those utterly dependent on others for everything — which is likely to be highly urbanized living, in which one is trapped into a high fixed cost of living, because one has limited or no alternative options. One simply has to pay whatever the full retail price is.

Meanwhile, if you go to the discount/clearance stores, they may have the last of the luxury items before everybody stopped buying them.

So to generalize the truth for everyone, everywhere, becomes much more problematical. The great value, is deciding for oneself, what has the greatest value — which means more freedom and choices, and not less.