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Sunday, May 22, 2011

We used to overcome hardship on our own

I remember as a kid my mom wanted to ride her bike three miles to her sister's house, and I was excited to go with her. I think I was about 8 at the time, and this was the first time I was ever allowed to ride my bike on the road.

About half way there I started to get bored, "How far now, mom?" I asked. She probably said it was just a little further, yet to a mom a mile and a half is not far. To an 8 year old it is a long way. To make the ride a little more interesting, I decided to experiment.

I started moving my front tire left and right real fast. This was fun for a while, until all of a sudden the front tire went a little too far to the left and the bike came to a sudden stop. I somersaulted over the front of the bike and skidded on the ground.

I ended up with a scrape on my hand. I cried to mom who had stopped and was now waiting for me to catch up. "Come on! Rick! Quit goofing around."

"Mom, I'm hurt!" I said. She never even got off her bike. She basically told me to be a man about it and go on. So I did. And that was the point I wanted to make. Back in the 1980s parents encouraged their kids to be tough.

When I was a kid I remember getting colds a lot. I also got the flu a lot. Yet every time this happened mom would let me lie in her bed all day and drink Brandy every four hours and gargle with salt water. The medicine tasted like crap, but we were supposed to drink it because that's what was to get us better.

I lost a job once, and instead of telling me to seek unemployment for 99 days my parents encouraged me to get another job. They wanted me to get a job so I could support myself and I didn't have to suck off them. They wanted me to have my own health insurance. They wanted me to be proud.

That's right. My parents new that people who get things for free, who have someone else making decisions for them, lack confidence. They give up. They become the bums of society. And people knew that. And now it's the opposite. We keep paying people to stay unemployed. We keep adding to unemployment thinking somehow that's going to help them.

We think them spending that money is going to put more money into the market. It's not. It's just taking money that's already been spent by you and me (our taxes) and giving it to someone else. While you and me might have bought computers or cars with that money, those unemployed are going to buy food and staples. Or so one would hope. How's that going to end a recession.

It used to be we'd say suck it up and get back on your feet.  In fact, one of our natural rights is the unalienable duty to support ourselves and not mooch off other people.

This doesn't happen any more. Now people are encouraged to treat every little cut and scrape and cold like it were the end of the world, and ERs are filled with a bunch of people who don't even need to be in there.

We don't give our kids medicine that tastes like medicine. The taste was supposed to discourage us from abusing it. Now we give kids medicine that taste like candy, and they come begging us for more every time they are sick, or are faking sick.  And then we wonder why so many people come to our ERs as medicine abusers.

Back in the good old days people didn't fake sick. If you did that you were the laughing stock of society. When I faked sick as a kid, my dad put me in my place. He called me on it every time. Now when someone is faking sick to get drugs or sympathy or whatever, we have to at least pretend to take them seriously because otherwise the liars will sue the honest folks.

It's a twist it is. To really help some of these people we should be honest with them. It's kind of like Simon Cowell on American Idol telling these people who can't sing that they can't sing, and then watching these people who can't sing wha wha about how their feelings were hurt. "Everyone tells me I'm a great singer," they say.

The truth is what Cowell would tell them. He'd basically tell them what their mommy and daddy should have told them a long time ago: that they suck at singing. Not anymore. Now we are encouraged to make our kids feel good. We are encouraged to lie to our kids. We can't keep score at T-ball games because we might hurt their feelings. We can't play dodge ball (one of my favorite games) because someone might get hurt either physically or mentally.

Yet in a capitalistic world people succeed and people fail. In order for newer and better and more productive companies who make more useful products to enter the market, those companies that are antiquated and have less popular products have to close their doors. It's a process called creative destruction.

Today we don't let people fail. We have banks giving stupid loans to people who never could afford them in the first place in order to give them a piece of the American dream, and then we are "stunned and surprised" when we learn what we should have realized all along: that the people who can't afford a home can't afford a home.

That's why we have all these foreclosures. That's why we had the housing bubble burst and the economy tank. Yet instead of allowing for creative destruction to take place we bail all these banks out. So instead of newer and better banks moving in, instead of better products, we now have the same old same old failed banks screwing more people.

I remember playing t-ball with my brother David who was a year younger than me, and the coach was hitting baseballs on the ground for us to field. The only ball the coach could find that day was a rubber ball, and when he hit it to my brother it bounced off the pitchers mound and hit David right in the mouth.

My brother was rushed to the Dentist by mom, and that was the end of it. My brother's tooth died, he now has to have it dyed white or whatever for looks, but he lives with it. It's not the end of the world. Yet today that coach would have been sued. That's right. What we used to suck up and live with we are now encouraged to sue.

I talked to a doctor friend of mine who worked in the 1980s, and he said back then the ER didn't even have 24 hour coverage. Basically if there was an emergency someone was on call to come in, yet otherwise there was no coverage.

And the ERs back then weren't packed either. Back then if there was an emergency, a true emergency, you went to the ER. Otherwise you stayed home. The reason was because there was no such thing as free health care. When something is free, people abuse it.

For some reason, when something is free, people lose all ability to think. When health care is free, instead of thinking people go to the ER even for things they should stay home with and suck up.

People don't question stupid orders either.  The other day I gave a breathing treatment to someone who came into the ER with a runny nose, and I gave him a treatment.  He was not short of breath, and never was.  Yet he never even once asked me, "Why are you giving me a breathing treatment?"

So here we are in 2010 with the Federal Government wanting to give even more people free health care, and you know what's going to happen. Swamped ERs are going to be even more swamped. And it's not going to be with more sick people either.  And there's going to be more order sets so every patient with a given diagnosis is treated the same, regardless of need.

And you can't tell me there are more sick people today than there were in 1980 or ever. The number of sick people hasn't changed. Yet our ability to suck it up has changed. We have become a nation of wimps. We have become a nanny state. "Oh, poor baby," is more commonly heard now instead of, "Be a man! Suck it up!"


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