I traded in my dreams for safety and got neither.
I wanted to be an actor or director when I graduated high school, but as a safety net I went to college to make sure I could fall back on a good job in case that didn’t pan out. Then after college, I sought the safety net of a job to make sure I was climbing a ladder while I worked on writing screenplays on the side. Only the writing happened once a week, if I was lucky, because I was too busy working. But a funny thing happened with both of these “safe” actions… No one ever cared I had a bachelors degree. And the company I climbed the ladder in, went bankrupt. Two seemingly safe decisions in my life, became obvious only later that they were not safe at all. Ultimately my dreams have shifted over the years and I don’t have any regrets, but the point is, my youthful dreams were never even attempted because I was chasing safety instead of what I really wanted to do.
By seeking out safety in economics/politics, we become less safe.
I think in today’s society we’re constantly looking for safety nets. And the more we reach, the more we destroy the very thing we’re looking for. We inherently want freedom, but we sacrifice freedom for a false sense of safety. From some of the most damaging policies of FDR like social security, medicare and medicaid, to the Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks… we sought safety in these programs only to completely backfire. So in trying to “fix” something that affects a very small percentage of the population we have created enormous problems for everyone. Social security is a huge tax from each person’s paycheck and their employer, because we supposedly weren’t capable of saving for our own retirement. Meanwhile the US government hasn’t saved a dime of those taxes… and is in fact 26 trillion in debt as I write this article. Does anyone think they can live off of social security alone? Social security has not only gone broke, but it has created more poverty than its original intent which was to have a safety net when we’re too old to work. Even worse, as pensions were swapped out for 401k’s in the 70’s, every person was responsible to cover the shortfalls of social security by gambling in the stock market with zero experience or financial education.
A very quick look at healthcare
The US was once the best healthcare in the world because it was purely a free market system. The point of the original system was to pay for non-emergencies out of pocket and you held insurance for catastrophic illnesses or accidents. So that would mean you would go to the doctor if you had a cold and pay nominal fee for the visit out of pocket, but also pay a small amount per month for catastrophic insurance if something major happened. Just like your car, you pay out of pocket to maintain it, but if a major accident happens, your insurance covers it. The problem is that the very poor couldn’t afford the catastrophic insurance or the doctor visit. In this case, people would collectively come together and help these people out or a doctor would write it off as charity. There is no perfect system, so in order to try to make it a perfect system, politicians have gotten in the way by trying to promise safety nets for the very small fraction of the population that were deemed as “left behind.” Tax credits for employers offering healthcare benefits started in the 1960’s and slowly broke the price discovery mechanism you normally have in a free market because no one cared anymore about the cost of healthcare if they weren’t directly paying for it. Because of this, the population has come to expect healthcare as a right and the costs have spiralled out of control because the market has been broken by government. In Canada, you have a government system where you walk into the general practitioner for a cold and walk right back out without paying directly. So on the surface it seems great. But then when something major happens to you, you get bogged down in the system. It took me 6 months to get an MRI on my knee, where as in the US it was same day service. To go into the history of healthcare of the US, there is a great book on why the original free market system was the best way known to man called, The Primal Prescription.
My experience with 2 systems, and another confirmation that the old system is the best way (even if its not perfect).
My wife was visiting her dad last month in the US because he had crashed his motorcycle… then a few days later she had a major stroke at the age of only 43. There was an amazing emergency response from the medical staff in Wyoming to remove the blood clot, but then we soon became trapped between 2 countries and 2 systems. The major difference was, I had to hound the insurance company and the hospitals to communicate in order to get her back to Canada and into rehab quickly. When we got back to Canada, she sat in a hospital bed and it was hard for me to get anyone to answer my calls as I was stuck at home quarantined. Then when I did reach someone, I got wildly different answers on what was going on with her and the progress to get her to a rehab facility. Finally 5 days later, a doctor calls me to tell me its going to be another 3 weeks while they test her for a super rare bacteria before they can get her to rehab. I saw this as a death sentence and flipped out on the doctor and how the system doesn’t care if she ever walks again. At least the insurance company answered my calls and acted on the information I gave them right away… the Canadian system was majorly broken for an illness that required expediency for quality of recovery. Well, 30 minuets after I flipped out on the doctor, the tune was changed and suddenly a bed was available 2 days later. I continued to call to ensure that actually did happen. There is a clear difference in quality and care between the 2 systems, even though the US is highly broken too.
The focal point I want to make is the hidden safety net that I found in all of this. The amount of love and support that surrounded us from all angles was truly incredible. From fellow peers in the movie industry, to our friends and family… everyone around us propped us up with different kinds of support to get us through this. I honestly had no idea how large of a support group we had until this happened. It was an unseen safety net that was always there, we just didn’t know it.
That goes back to the original premise, that we seek safety nets in political regulations or job security, etc. But it is the unseen that is truly special and what actually makes us safe.
In the movie contact, Ellie travels to a distant planet where an alien disguised as her father tells her, “You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
To me that says it all. Through all the chaos and turmoil that we’re witnessing this year, what really matters is that we have each other. I would bet all the nightmares we see on TV are a fraction of the beautiful dreams that happen every day that never get reported on. Thats why I seek real news by real investigative reporters and not the news that sells chaos for ratings. The reality is that when we come together, beautiful things happen. And if we learn the truth about the money system, that truth will set us free.