When Kat Schrödinger opened her eyes and turned on the light, she could not see anything. Her husband, noticing her careful steps and outstretched arms, asked: “is there something wrong?” She wasn’t sure. They went to the hospital, where in quick succession, many things happened. Kat laid down on a clean, white table, surrounded by men dressed in blue. Breath, don’t breath, move, don’t move, how many fingers, what day is it. What do you do for living? “I’m retired.” The next day, Kat could see the fingers of the men in blue. A few days later, she was discharged to home. Her dilated hospital fees were paid for by the government in full. She needed many medications, all expensive, but subsidized by the government. She needed many doctor appointments. All were paid for by the government.
Kat laid in her bed, closed her eyes and slept.
When Schrödinger, Kat (SK) opened her eyes and turned on the light, she could not see anything. Her husband, noticing her careful steps and outstretched arms, asked: “is there something wrong?” She wasn’t sure. They went to the hospital, where in quick succession, a few things happened. She laid on a table, surrounded by men dressed in black; move, don’t move, how many fingers. What do you do? “I’m unemployed.” The next day, SK could see the fingers of the men in black, saying: “fingers, black.” She was then discharged. Her dilated hospital fees were not fully paid. She presented a government “voucher,” which covered a fraction of the bill. She needed many medications, but couldn’t afford any. She needed doctor appointments, but had no insurance. She called many health insurance companies, which asked the same question: “Age?” and had only one answer: “70? Sorry, you don’t meet criteria; thank you for calling Medikorp.” It took a while to find a doctor who would see her out of the goodness of his heart. But on the bright side, SK was presented with greater freedom of choice: pay for health care or pay the rent; pay for health care or pay the groceries; pay for health care or pay the car; etc, etc. And let’s not forget giving due credit to the great Science of Medicine. SK’s vision improved so much that she even started seeing the invisible hand of the market.
SK laid in bed and closed her eyes, but couldn’t sleep.
When I was a child, I was told by my father, mother, grandmother, teachers, priests, friends, neighbors, sages in books, etc, that being powerful means helping the defenseless. Courage means confronting something more powerful than you, not taking things away from people without power.
Kat Schrödinger lives in a place where laws, for the most part, derive from that premise. SK doesn’t.
Kat Schrödinger doesn’t remember the name of the politicians who created Medicare. They had many imperfections, but upon leaving public office, many of them thought that their job was incomplete. They had an ugly scar with the shape of Vietnam in their right hypochondrion.
SK doesn’t know the name of the politicians who ended Medicare. These men had many imperfections, but upon leaving public office, they thought their job was complete. They became corporate executives and episodically, were taken to Cali by billionaires, where they had a real good time.
The grandest discovery of ideologues is that Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are not written in the U.S. Constitution―a brilliant insight. And yet, anyone can appreciate that the constitution calls for a legislature endowed with the power to create laws in response to real problems, like poverty overburdening the elderly in the 60’s, or regular people being unable to afford health care today. But of course, this may not sound right if all you have ever read in your life ―besides the elegant prose of business contracts― is the Spark Notes of The Fountainhead.
Here is the fundamental challenge of democracy: spot the demagogue or suffer from the shortsightedness.
The welfare state did not emerge because of an accident. Millions of destitute people like SK made it necessary. A good government is an equalizer, not a king-maker― it persists through time following Virgil’s formula, conquer the proud and spare the humble.
“Truth is manifested without manifestos,” wrote Carlos Fuentes, adding: “Light is not announced ideologically.”
In a world full of lies, Courage is Knowledge. The opposite is called “The Path to Prosperity.”