Milan Vodicka: Politics? Where rubber meets the road
The rubber of politics meets the road in our everyday life. Usually, we perceive politics in the background, somewhere in the far galaxy. Perhaps called Washington, D.C.?
Encountering U.S. politics in the domain of everyday life produced two unexpected shocks, events totally missing in my previous life in the Socialist Republic from which I escaped. The first shock was, “Do not plan anything for this weekend, we shall do taxes!” Oh yes, it was April then, too.
The second shock happened when I was brought to the hospital thinking I had a heart attack. While I was hardly conscious, someone stuck a piece of paper in front of me saying, “You cannot be treated unless you sign this.” I had to sign that I shall be responsible for all expenses incurred, or something to that effect.
Laws, regulations, policies. This is how politics materializes itself in our everyday lives. This is an undeniable reality, in spite of possible likes or dislikes for anything that smells of politics. Like government or taxes.
Where does this come from? What, if anything, can we — or should we — do about it?
The famous British philosopher of the last century, Bertrand Russell, stated that all motivation of human behavior has roots in three factors: desire for wealth, power, or sex. I think it is easy to recognize this motivation as a mirror of many current politicians. In order to cover the full spectrum, I would add apathy, ignorance, and hate as additional factors.
How do we and our everyday life fit in? Let us examine this closer. The three factors above are interrelated. Power can be wielded by wealth, authority, or influence. We, unlike some that I shall not name, are in the category of “influencing.” That includes me and why I am writing.
Vaclav Havel, former president of my native country (nowadays the Czech Republic) wrote a classic book titled, “Power of the Powerless.” The “powerless” are actually powered by statements like “this is the way it is,” “I cannot do anything about it,” “politicians do not care,” and so on. The result is silent compliance. “This does not bother me,” “I do not understand politics,” “it does not matter what I do.” In one word, apathy.
Do we see apathy around us? I had the pleasure of meeting a nice lady in line for services at a local bank and chatted with her. She related to me that she does not vote. She is busy with whatever she must do, and beyond — if she voted, what would it change? At the same time, she was not happy that her son had to wait six months for an appointment to have his ailing back taken care of.
According to transformative theories, in order to effect transformative change, event or a series of events called “disorienting dilemma” has to occur. This apparently did not happen to all of us yet. As a consequence, we muddle happily (apathetically) through our everyday lives, doing what is urgent and not necessarily important, perhaps ignoring outdated and indeed harmful circumstances.
Let me bring this home with my two shocks, health care and taxes. To simplify, consider only this: Health care, as practiced in our country, flunks the mathematics exam. Our taxation system is too complex, favoring some.
I stated many times the undeniable, unquestionable, provable and definitely valid “Laws of Insurance.” One, insurance means sharing the risk. Two, the larger the pool of insured, the smaller is the risk for any participant of this pool.
The logical conclusion is that the most effective health insurance is a national one, with everyone participating. I have an urge to capitalize “national” and “everyone participating” and scream to the ears of the ones who do not get that. Politics — wealth and power, with sex following, is a higher priority than to alleviate the suffering of fellow human beings and ourselves. If I need any healthcare in the European Union, I can go to just about any health-care facility, they scan my insurance card, I pay about $20, and this is it.
Here, if you would think that with the national insurance you would pay more than you pay now, you are mistaken. You pay for the “market driven” healthcare more, right now — through taxes or otherwise.
As the taxes go, you know! Only two things are inevitable. Death and taxes. Bottom line? Exercise any power you have to influence laws, regulations, and policies. Vote for the quality of our everyday life.
Milan Vodicka, Ph.D., has been a Nevada County resident since 1978.
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