I am not a snowflake, but something about this phrase has been triggering me these past few months.
Concept – everyone pays in some portion of wealth/earnings etc for the greater good of society for x.
Problem – recipients of “greater good” are battling payees to determine “fair share”. Recipients want more money paid in by everyone else, payees sick of prices going up when they aren’t consuming.
Where I live, the “greater good” is commonly with school taxes. Whether or not you have a child, you are billed school taxes based on the value of your home to pay for local schools. The idea is you are helping all of society get educated. Whether you have 0 kids or 14 kids, we all benefit from an educated society.
I get it. I do. But something has happened in our society that really has my math spidey sense tingling these days. First, my local school looks like a goddamn $100 million castle and I felt that they could have done less and given me a break on taxes…but I digress…
20 years ago in college, everyone smoked. And we all binge drank. You would leave class, and walk outside to see groups of 3-8 in their fraternity/sorority jackets and you would migrate towards your collective hive, whether you were close with them or not. And you lit up your favorite brand of coffin nails. When we had parties, many of us would drink obscene amounts of beer or other spirits, and there would be a constant fog in the parties that would be sure to make non-smokers stink like they just entered an all-night poker tournament in some sleezy off-books New Jersey back room gambling operation with senior citizens puffing away on stale cigars. It would not be out of the norm to find me or one of 20 people puking somewhere in the bushes only to clear space to drink another 5-8 hours afterwards. Sometimes I might have puked 2-3 times over a 16 hour period to keep going because there was just no room for more booze.
To top it off, there were all night taco runs, pizzas being ordered at all hours of the day, and 2 for $2 at McDonalds, where you could ingest 500-600 calories of your favorite meat poison in seconds, only to be followed by a second dose and a side of fries – to be washed down with a monster bucket-sized Coca-Cola.
I gained roughly 113 pounds in college in those 4 years. We were not the pinnacle of health. But goddamn did I have fun. However, that fun may cost me decades of my life in the backend.
Just 5 years prior to my college experience, people were smoking in those classrooms during class. How I was soooo jealous of them. My mom would smoke in work, and people would complain. I didn’t understand it, as I’d be in the back seat while the windows were up in the car and they would puff away freely. I got asthma at 12, but I’m sure it’s totally unrelated. My parents’ generation learned from people who also ate lard with everything, smoked non-filtered cigarettes, and ate red meat and potatoes like it was their job. There’s no blame here, as everyone lived like this – no causation, it just was what it was. People drank and smoked while pregnant. It’s just how it was.
The overall point is that society, as a whole, was unhealthy. The old model led to most of this country either dying by heart attack, cancer, or stroke. The unhealthiest of us would just die off sooner. Social security was a great model because a lot of people just didn’t live long enough to collect after paying a lifetime into it. Now, we all expect to live to 100 and expect dozens or more “free” procedures when we are older just by paying in a couple hundred bucks a month for our whole lives. Well, it doesn’t really work like that.
Today….Houston, we have a problem.
The old model is….dead.
If you go back to my college and walk around a bit, you notice something much different. People just don’t smoke anymore. In the workplace, people just don’t smoke as much anymore. My college party days filled with umpteen amounts of parties has been replaced by guys drinking a few beers late on a Friday night and maybe having one or two at the bar. They are all kale-eating motherfuckers who do yoga and eat whole grains. They eat healthy. They go to the gym. They exercise, a lot. McDonald’s stock is going to shit because an entire generation of people raised on orange wedges during soccer have flipped the switch off to shitty food that will kill you. TV ratings are in the shitter because an entire generation as voted them off the island to watch fitness vlogs on youtube.
Our younger generation, for all of their whining, bitching, snowflaking asses, are the pinnacle of health. I am now jealous of this generation.
I’m an IT manager managing 70+ individuals currently. I have worked in the field for 20 years. 7 years ago where I was, I volunteered to play on our company softball team. It was HARD to find one or two more people on our floor to play. Today, the people who work for me in their 20s all look like they could play minor league baseball or were D1 athletes (one actually was a D1 player basketball player). This generation brings salads with them to work. They shy away from a company pizza party unless there are healthy alternatives. Donuts may sit uneaten. These people don’t go to bars and get wrecked on the weekends, they are training for a 5k or tough mudder or whatever the fuck race is that weekend. They work out. They eat healthy. They have listened to the mistakes of their parents.
This generation, is, indeed, special with their health. And we need to listen to them, because they also have millions of votes.
And it pains me to say this, but this generation will not have the same future as their predecessors. I look at my parents’ generation, and, as a whole, I see a lot of medical issues ahead. My father died from lung cancer at 57, but not before going through probably half a million in medical costs courtesy of the state, because he was too poor to afford insurance. He smoked his whole life, and also was a welder around a lot of asbestos. I see an entire generation about to deal with heart disease, cancers, diabetes, expensive surgeries – as our technology to increase our average lifespan improves, so does the cost to perform these procedures on an aging population. While many of these people have contributed $40,000-$80,000 in their lives to insurance, this will cover the first of their 4 bypasses prior to the chemo, knee, and hip replacement – followed up with years on the dialysis machines and emphysema treatments with your full time nurse. So the problem now is a math one that is coming to a head, and quickly. While this generation may have amassed small fortunes in paying off their houses, second houses, 401ks – the truth is many of them feel their health insurance should cost what it costs the 22 year old, or something close to it. But it’s just not reality to that 22 year old today.
The old model suggests if this 22 year old gets out of college and pays into health insurance x amount of dollars, that a portion of x would be subsidizing the treatments of those whose x+y policies didn’t quite cover all of their costs. The problem with the old model is that an entire generation of people will not have the same problems as the current (my parent’s generation) and near future (my generation) sets of problems. If you look at places like Japan, they just don’t have the problems our country does with cancer and heart diseases.
I just thought we all died like that. Not true.
If you look around the world at the other health systems, you find something interesting. They just don’t have the costs per patient we do because they aren’t as unhealthy as we are. We can say that all of our fancy devices mean that we have a better system, but our patients are SICKER. Consider it massive consumerism leading to out of control obesity with a degrading quality of food being delivered to them. So if an 80 year old from Portugal came here to have a treatment with a new-fangled device to help him live 10 more years, yeah – that’s awesome. But we are needing those devices on patients in their 50’s and 60’s to sustain them until 80.
I see two parts to the “fair share” equation.
- The young people must pay into the system to benefit all of society
- The people in the system have a responsibility to live healthy to keep their costs down. If not, if they have brought on problems themselves, then they will have to pay THEIR fair share.
The overall problem is an emotional one. We all have people in our lives who will reap the benefits of a semi-socialized health care system. Someday I will be a future recipient. But I also see as being a member of number 2 above that MY FAIR SHARE is to not only pay more, but to proactively try my best to bring those costs down.
It has occurred to me, that we cannot tax our way out of this, because the younger people just aren’t going to get sick like we do. You know it, I know it, they know it. Yet we continue to point fingers at them and say “pay your fair share”. Well…they are – they are paying their fair share in keeping their costs down for the next generation.
We cannot just keep raising the revenues to pay for ever-rising costs. We need to collectively reduce the costs by looking in the mirror, and understanding OUR fair share.
I am not the billboard for health. I am fat. I smoked off and on for 20 years, and maybe someday this kills me sooner than I want. I have contracted issues as a result of my binge drinking which increases my likelihood of getting throat cancer. However, I made the changes needed in my life 9 months ago to increase my lifespan on my own. I’m now down 57 pounds and feel better by the day. Had I not acted, I was looking at major medical issues inside of 1-3 years. These costs would have been passed on to you and the next generation. Instead, I ate better, fixed my problems, exercised, and hired a trainer. In those 9 months, I have not even had one cough – where all of the unhealthy people around me have been sick multiple, multiple times. I have been directly exposed to these sick people dozens of times, and my immune system just laughs it off. Eventually, I’ll be taken down, but I am just amazed at how these changes have paid off.
“But I can’t afford to eat healthy”. Bullshit. You don’t need organic this or that. You can make a pile of chicken, rice, and broccoli up for dinner for a week for about $10.
“But I don’t have time to exercise”. Bullshit. Turn off the TV. Walk your dog. Get into a habit of walking 10-20 minutes each night after dinner. Buy second hand exercise equipment from Craig’s list, which is littered with exercise devices bought and used twice before collecting three years of dust.
“But I can’t afford a trainer”. Bullshit. I paid for my trainer immediately by no longer eating out and cooking everything myself. I watched my monthly food bill go from about $800 a month for me and the wife down to $400. How much is the open heart surgery going to cost you….50k? I used to buy a pack of smokes every day – now at $6 a pack here…for a grand total of close to $200 per month. Back in my twenties, I probably spent $400 per month on going to the bars and partying. So, the cost of being an unhealthy asshole was $1400 per month as opposed to the cost of eating healthy and having a trainer at about $600 per month. I learned from my more unhealthy days that you could rationalize anything with yourself. ‘But I’ll better tomorrow’. Do better today…now. Stop rationalizing shit.
So “Fair share” has me wanting to look at those who are waving their fingers at “fair share” and wanting to challenge THEM to do THEIR fair share.
- Put down the cigarette – you are paying $6 a day for the right to die decades younger.
- Reduce your drinking – no one needs the extra calories.
- Put down the soda/candy and excess sugar. Diabetes is getting to you more than you know. You don’t realize how this is killing your joy of life until you start to reverse the effects of it and realize how sugar has affected you.
- Start moving – turn off the DVR and just go for a walk
- Start planning your meals – it is easy. In the time you can cook one meal, you can cook 5.
- Avoid fast food, at all costs. Do not buy the salad at the drive thru. You know at the last minute you will change that to quarter pounder when you smell that grease. Stay the fuck away from these places. Think about when you drive up to these places that you are indeed ordering a heart attack, stroke, or cancer – and paying for that privilege. If you think of it like that, you might be less prone to try it.
- Consult experts to tailor a plan for you – as I mentioned above, a trainer is not that expensive when you cut out other shit in your life
- Stop eating out – or significantly reduce this. Not only are you looking at a meal that costs 5-10 times what it would if you made it at home, but you can’t control ingredients like butter, cream, oils that can significantly increase the calories – AND portions are WAYYY too big.
- Go for walks – start with 10-20 mins a day and build from there.
- Make your health your top priority. Everything else needs to be secondary. It’s like what you hear in the event of a plane crash, you need to save yourself so you can save others. If I don’t save myself now, I won’t be there to pay for my son’s college, or be there for his wedding day.
If you are having problems understanding this, let me paint a picture for you.
The diner – a parable (by ME)
Assume you normally go out to a diner with your friends. You all normally get food that comes out to about $10 each. One person here and there might get something for $12. Your bill is then normally just over $10. You figure one time you might get something that is $12, and let it slide.
You decide then that the best choice on the menu for your health costs $3. Still, you enjoy going out with all of your friends, and maybe one day you might order a $20 filet, so you keep paying the $10. Suddenly, you notice your bill going to $11. Then $12…then $15. You look around the table and see that half of your friends start ordering double and triple portions. They are eating unhealthy foods. While they are getting $20 worth of food, they are only being required to pay $10 or $11….still, as the bill is going up, they are still consuming more and more and getting a deal because other people at the table are splitting their check evenly.
But some of the people at the table have no intention to ever, ever get double/triple portions and start to think to themselves…
I look down at my $3 salad, and look at the $15 bill weekly and decide I don’t want to split a check with some of these friends anymore. I look across the table, and three of my friends have been ordering salads as well. We decide we will split our check 4 ways and each of our bills are $3. We are happy with this, and we realized our healthy choices will help us live a lot longer. Occasionally, one of my salad friends might forget his wallet, so maybe my bill occasionally spikes to $4 because the other friends all chip in a dollar more to pay for the person who forgot the wallet. Still, this is a much better deal weekly than the $15 we were paying before!!
My other friends see that our “healthy pool” are no longer willing to contribute to their check. They look around, and see lobster tail, bags of cheeseburgers they are taking home, and now they are each stuck with a $25 bill. They realize they cannot afford $25. They now want to blame the other friends for not giving them money anymore.
The unhealthy pool of people then point their fingers at the healthy pool and demand they pay more. The healthy pool looks right back at them and asks them to stop ordering lobster and triple portions to reduce their costs. Still upset, and unwilling to accept responsibilities for their actions, the unhealthy pool now demands the government subsidize their check. The government says they don’t want to pay for the lobster either, but they will pay for the filet. The government turns around, and puts a “special tax” on the healthy pool for $2 to help pay for that filet. While the healthy pool is upset at the $2 tax, it’s still much better than $15. The unhealthy pool is still upset, and have to pay $20 by digging into their savings account to get some of those dollars to pay for their meal. Their preference was that healthy people and the government pay for part of their check rather than ordering less and tapping into their savings account.
What is “fair” here? This, in a nutshell, is the macro of our healthcare problem. Yes, there are exceptions to this. But statistically, they are rare.
Simply put, there is a battle going on now between a generation who didn’t care for their bodies versus a generation who have taken care of themselves and are asking those who are unhealthy to “do their fair share” back to lower costs.
Now, I pitted “healthy” versus “unhealthy” against each other. If any of you have bothered to read this far, it’s actually more of a triad of people put together:
- The consciously unhealthy (this was me for most of my life, and the team I left 9 months ago)
- The consciously healthy (this is the team I signed up for 9 months ago)
- The statistically unlucky (this group cannot help their issues, and the “special tax” the healthy pool is willing to pay for in regards to this group).
Now, in category number 3, you have a myriad of issues. You have those who were born with problems, and those who statistically develop problems early in life as a matter of genetics or environment. What you WANT to do as a “healthy person” is to try and minimalize environmental damage the best you can. For example, a 7 year old contracting cancer is horrible and I cannot even imagine what that is like for a family – statistically, it’s rare. A 22 year old developing cancer is also statistically rare. But when you get into your 40s, 50s, 60s, – it’s less rare, and certain types are very common due to certain exposures. Smoking, red meat, lead, asbestos, etc, are more common to cause issues as you get older. But the extreme rareness of younger people getting these types of things is where the “healthy” have ZERO issues (for the most part) contributing a few pennies more than their check to collectively help this group.
The overall issue now is….
Older unhealthy folks wanting younger people to defer their checks to, and younger, healthier folks wanting the unhealthy folks to be more disciplined in their lives.
This now bleeds a little into politics – where one of the core republican values is “personal responsibility”. They are compassionate to those who are in need (mostly?), but they want you to exhaust all means of YOU helping YOU first, prior to asking for help. If you look at this last election, you have a very vocal socialist group under Bernie wanting to split the check for everything against a very vocal group of somewhat republican/libertarians saying “take care of you first”.
It is essentially:
- diffused responsibility with no accountability versus
- personal responsibility with direct accountability.
Neither side is “perfect” (economic sense) in their position, but this satisfies the Venn diagram of where they are on the playing fields. The needle for 20 years has been on the socialist end, to the point where the republican end came out on top this go around to try and curtail expenses. The left has met this with fire and brimstone, and “fake news” and “fake memes” about coverage being denied with “TrumpCare”. The TrumpCare side of this is simply wanting to divide the check between the healthy salad eaters and the unhealthy side wanting double/triple portions and lobsters. And there’s a very vocal group trying to smear this message into letting people dying. The problem is, most at that table have done the heavy work on that end already.
This is not to remove compassion for those with pre-existing conditions. It is simply meant to identify groups for how things are paid for. Those who can’t afford their checks and can’t do anything about their status will have means of assistance. Those who are healthy will see substantial reductions in their plans from now.
This was the crux of the Obamacare/TrumpCare debate.
And what you need to know is more people across this country went away from the more socialist ideals to try and force the hand with those who are unhealthy to “help themselves”.
I was one of them. One day, I decided I just needed to do better. I have been. And I’m hoping to do “my fair share” by reducing medical costs for all…for now…for the near future…and for the long term.
I just feel that overall, those who have consciously led an unhealthy life must take steps to improve their situations because the consciously healthy didn’t want to pay for their check anymore.
And that’s how ObamaCare got repealed. Not because some evil Republican wants people to die. It’s because they want them to live longer, at a lower cost to all. And a great majority of them need to look in the mirror and take accountability for their health in order to reduce their costs, because those jacked 22 year olds will be voting en masse for many years to come.