Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Crazy, Dumb, and Cruel

It was the kind of thing that could happen to anyone.

A moment of clumsiness, the error that happens every ten-thousand strides.  A momentary tumble down concrete steps.  And the result?  A broken hand, meaning a badly fractured metacarpal.

That happened a couple of months ago to our twenty year old son, and it meant a trip to the ER, followed by imaging, followed by the recommendation for a minor surgery to repair a hand that wasn't going to heal well on its own.

It got done, because it needed to get done.

Now, of course, the bills come in.  They're not small.  Doctors.  ERs.  Hospitals.  One after another.  We're insured, and so the bite is manageable.  He's insured, because, well, the Affordable Care Act mandated the extension of care to 26.

And he's got insured parents, and we do well enough, and it's more an annoyance to us than a punitive burden.

But I'm reminded that it is insane that it works this way.  Twenty year olds don't always have insured parents.  They often have parents who are struggling.  They're adults, and if they were working on their own, this kind of thing would be catastrophic.  I'm not talking the five figure bill for the surgery.  Just the "patient's share," the five hundred here, the thousand there, times three or four?  That's more than many young adults could manage.  How many young adults living on their own can drop five thousand without it taking a bite?

For most, it'd mean taking on debt, piling borrowed money on top of student loans, and taking a young life and laying a deeper burden onto it.

Again, this is insane.  There are ways to do this better, ways that every developed society figured out fifty years ago.  But we forge on, doing it the same way over and over again, the way that just doesn't work.  Madness is expecting different results, after all.  Or maybe we're not insane.  Maybe it's something else.

Maybe we're dumb, in the stubborn way that genuine dumbness inflicts itself on a life.  We spend more, and get less, and shatter lives in the process, and then come up with reasons why that's the way it needs to be.  It's unacceptably stupid.

But we're so good at rationalizing our failure.  So very good.  Dumb isn't anywhere near as good at rationalization.

At a certain point, it becomes simply cruel, the bitter cold malice of the blind ideologue, who resents and despises the reality that won't bend itself to their control.

Given the bankruptcies and stress and suffering that we inflict unnecessarily on millions of our fellow  citizens?  Perhaps it's all three.