This I Believe

Daniel - Round Lake, Illinois
Entered on February 8, 2008

As a child, I was pretty happy. Carefree, for the most part. I can’t say the same thing as an adult. My perennial state as an adult in America is one of fatigue. It’s a harsh existence we have as individual adults here. Should life be easy? Probably not; I’m more apt to agree with people who say you need to work for your due. But, as someone who’s worked hard both mentally and physically to get to a point of earning a slightly above average income, I’d have to say that existence in our economy is still a struggle. And after struggling for real independence for the past eight years, fatigue overwhelms me. Fatigue which is magnified by the knowledge that the struggle is not over, and most likely never will be. The struggle is on so many different fronts, that my paycheck is honestly the least of my concerns.

Let’s hasten to the point. I’m tired.

I’m tired of being insured by companies that are not interested in my health or my safety. Companies who spend more time, effort, and money on not insuring me. Companies who we all (those of us who are “lucky” enough to have employer-provided health insurance) pay to cover our health care, yet go out of their way to do the exact opposite of that. Why is it even an option for an insurance company to deny services? As it stands, we’re paying for a dice roll, not “insurance.”

I’m tired of the “fend for yourself,” or “what’s mine is mine” attitude so many Americans have. What is so abhorrent about investing in the community as opposed to investing in yourself? Yes, people should work for their due. Yes, people should earn what they have. In terms of luxury. What about necessities? Is our military privatized? Our police and firefighters? I’ve recently heard the following in discussions about socialized medicine: “Why should I pay for your healthcare? Why should you pay for mine? It’s only fair that everyone pays for their own.” Anyone objecting to socialized medicine on the basis of that argument needs to do some research; that’s how our system works now. You pay into your HMO or PPO, a fund which goes towards covering you and everyone else in your plan. In any case, I’m not advocating socialized medicine; I’m advocating finding a fix to the mess we’re in, whatever that may be. We’re a nation of individuals divided by our self-interest. We’re too concerned with what’s mine and not what’s ours. A gentle reminder–the motto of our great nation is E Pluribus Unum; Out of Many, One. We can admit we’re part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are not whole simply operating as individuals surrounded by other individuals, or we can be united only in collapse and failure.

I’m tired of being afraid. We have a culture of fear. There’s so much to be afraid of that I’m afraid to think about it. It’s not unlikely that a round of layoffs could land any one of us in the unemployment line. Getting sick, that’s terrifying. Even if insured, it’ll cost more than expected, and there will be a fight for the coverage. What about inflation? The collapse of the dollar? The ruins of Social Security? Will my generation even be able to afford to retire? Will I be in debt for the rest of my life? Where will the terrorists strike next? Frankly, the current administration and the mainstream media have done a great job of controlling us through fear. We make our decisions in life based on consequences that have been invented to scare us into compliance. What happened to hope? Has it been squashed out of us completely?

I’m tired of everything costing so damn much. Housing, utilities, gas, milk, bread, cigarettes. Inflation is out of control. In constant dollars, wages are going down. People are making less money than five years ago. Not because companies are paying less per se, but because the dollar is almost worthless. We don’t have buying power, we exist on credit lines, and are forced into debt to survive. Everyone I personally know carries debt, and not irresponsible debt. Debt to pay for education, housing, survival. It’s downright un-American to be financially stable.

I’m tired of not being able to fix any of it. The corporations that control our debt are the same ones that control our law makers. Futility is the word on Capitol Hill, and futility is the attitude of the people. Getting anything done that would in some way hurt industry, or have a perceived negative impact on industry, is impossible.

There’s nowhere else–nowhere good–to take this commentary. It’s a downward spiral. We need to fix these problems, and not just leave it to Washington to figure out. It’s our job, our duty to ourselves to think about this, and unify over our collective hope to survive. If nothing else, we need to unify in objection to the lack of control any one of us has.