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Life Arts    H2'ed 8/30/12

Strange, very strange, dangerously strange

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Message robert wolff
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There are strangenesses, situations, concepts, words, that make me sit up but that few people, if any, even question. Americans think of health care as insurance through private, for profit, companies, that is strange enough. But nobody to my knowledge has noticed that teeth and eyes are not included in health insurance. Isn't that strange?

True, Medicare is a Government, program, something that a large group of people rant and rave about because they think private for profit companies could do it cheaper or better. That makes no sense to me, because the private companies have to make a profit. We pay them more than what they pay us when, if, we need it. Isn't that obvious?

I am more than old enough to have Medicare. Medicare is wonderful if you are in a hospital. Medicare pays for every bandaid the hospital charges. But Medicare pays only a portion of visits to a doctor, obviously also a part of health care. Here, Medicare pays about half of what it costs to see a doctor, who makes 10 minute appointments, sends me to private, for profit, companies, called labs, that do X-rays, test urine, blood, etc. I am very lucky because my union pays for my various insurances -- yes, plural. One for teeth, one for eyes, one for tests, one for X-rays, and one for all that Medicare does not pay when I see a doctor. And a most important insurance that pays for most of the drugs a doctor prescribes. Recently got a prescription for eye drops to clear conjunctivitis. I paid $5 at the pharmacy, one of the insurances paid the rest. A month or so later found out the real cost for this tiny, tiny plastic squeeze bottle was $105. The print on the tiny thing is so tiny that I cannot read it but my guess is that it holds less than a quarter ounce. And yes the Government pays for Medicare, but it is administered by six different private companies. Here, when making an appointment to see a doctor the first question is always which of the six administrator companies pays the doctor for my Medicare. Most doctors will not accept two of the six because they do not pay for six months or more. All that is very strange.

The most strange of all, of course, is that this country pays twice what any other industrialized country pays for "health care" and yet, according to the statistics of the WHO (World Health Organization), we are far from being number one in "health." We are number 18. Strange squared. 

If you want to drive a car you have to have insurance. Yes, we can choose a company and the cost will depend on age, driving record and who knows what else. It is the law, everybody has to pay and as far as I know nobody has every questioned that. But when the government makes a law that requires almost everybody to pay for health insurance the other party loudly proclaims that that is against the Constitution and the first thing they promise to do when/if they come to power is scrap "Obamacare" -- leaving 50 million Americans without any health insurance. The new Government health insurance plan (not fully going into effect untll 2014) still is through for-profit health insurance companies and therefore expensive. If the clause that says (almost) everyone has to havei insurance is removed that of course will make health care much more expensive. All strange, strange.

What we call health care is really medical care. Not the same thing. Health care would be if thre were in every neighborhood a very cheap or free clinic where a doctor or nurse practitioner has time and inclination to get to know a person, her or his life style, circumstances. For less than $100 an overweight boy of 13 can be helped to change his diet. If the boy gets to be a 31 year old man who has never seen a doctor, now even more overweight with advanced diabetes, it will cost more than $100,000 to treat him. I find it very strange that those who plan what we call health care don't know that.

If we would cut the Pentagon's budget in half and stop making wars all over the world we would solve the debt crisis that all reasonable people tell me is the consequence of fighting two unbelievably sloppily waged wars. Do we really think that occupying a country wins the hearts and minds of people? I lived through five years of the German occupation of the Netherlands, and I am convinced that any occupation by a foreign country makes the occupied hate the occupiers. That we cannot figure that out is very, very strange.

And does anyone believe that we can create a stable and friendly democracy by training soldiers and policemen? Is that what makes a democracy? Too strange.

I have never heard anyone wonder why a cell phone network makes money at both ends of a phone call. I have no control over who calls me. During this election year many politicians call cell phones. Whether we want or not we must pay. Strange or wrong?

I read somewhere that there are now 29 (?) companies that filter all our phone calls and emails and do exotic things for our "security" by preventing "terrorists" from attacking us. Isn't it strange that not one of them could foresee the horrible slaughters of Americans by Americans? Shouldn't they have looked into the actions of a man who owned three or four guns, including an assault weapon, who ordered 600,000 bullets over the internet? How many millions of tax money these companies with thousands of employees get is of course a secret. I find that dangerously strange.

The year of an unusually warm winter, almost no snow; a summer with weeks upon weeks of 100 -+ temperatures, wild fires out of control. An election year --and neither party has said one word about climate change. I find that very strange. Frighteningly dangerously strange.

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robert wolff lived on the Big Island, called Hawai'i

his website is He passed away in late 2015. He was born in 1925, was Dutch, spoke, Dutch, Malay, English and spent time living and getting to know Malaysian Aborigines. He authored numerous books including What it Is To Be Human, (more...)

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