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Life Arts

Questons, questions

By       Message robert wolff     Permalink
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Why do very few people ask why... well, for instance, why should we not question the statement "Capitalism is the obvious and therefore only future for mankind. The only possible future." We seem to take it for granted that capitalism is the only system, or the only system for a democracy, or we don't know of any other. But we never question, although I would think there is a lot to question about how the world is run today.

When I look around, most of the people I know are poor and getting poorer. But they, too, accept that "of course" everything gets more expensive, more fouled up, service of any kind is harder to get and often ineffective, because service has come to be organized to serve the provider, not the one requiring service.

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That's just the way it is, they tell me.

The way to where, I ask.

Laughter. The future, man!

Many people I know accepted years ago that they probably won't get social security (and they are getting closer each year). Makes me feel guilty for my monthly $780 (I worked hard, and paid the max for many years). Many of my friends and family cannot afford health insurance for themselves; this State generously provides subsidized insurance for children. But the breadwinners can't afford to get sick.

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Would it not be a relief, I used to say, if this country--as all other rich countries--had universal health care?

That sounds like communism, they whisper, and communism is bad! Yeah, very bad that communism. Not democratic. No freedom.

What freedom? (You see I cannot stop asking questions).

Well, the freedom to... well, you know, the freedom to... go where you want, live where you want, and all that.

People who have been to Europe admit that it must be nice to be able to get good medical treatment for free--but they can't quite believe it. Or, they say, Over there they pay huge taxes!

Yes, true. But evidently they get their money's worth: good (almost free) health care, with an emphasis on prevention (and I know at least two countries were doctors make house calls again -- it is cheaper, they say), a less than 40 hour work week, six weeks paid vacation a year, good pensions, good unemployment pay, and so on. Gasoline almost everywhere in the world has always been more than twice what we paid, so they drive small cars that get fabulous mileage.

Not safe, my friends tell me. You're safer in a big car.

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Maybe in a country where "everybody" drives huge trucks and vans. Not when everyone else also drives a small car. And the auto magazines I occasionally read when I wait for my car to be serviced often write that it is not true that big cars and trucks are safer-- they may even be less safe!

We live by myths and half truths, or even lies, and when they are repeated often enough they acquire a certain obviousness. But... (A very useful feature of Hawaiian pidgin language, a sentence with a loose but at the end.)

From the perspective of Europe, or Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, it is unbelievable that 45 million Americans cannot afford any health insurance whatsoever.

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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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