Civilization: It Really Could Work

I had a fascinating experience today, which mainly involved going to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine.  It came through the grapevine that I was now eligible to get vaccinated.  I have been looking forward to it, and when I heard of my opportunity, I wasted no time pursuing it.

The pursuit led to a series of revelations a bit later.  First, was the VA process for getting the vaccine.  Being a service veteran, I was told that all over 55 years of age could now just go and get it.  Now, I have never used VA medical insurance, so I would have to spend some time getting signed up.  Fine.  A vaccine that would protect me and those around me further from the potentially deadly virus that has been everyone’s daily worry for the past year seemed well worth the sign up process.

I have had few experiences with government services since my time in the Marines, so my impressions of them basically remained from that time.  Well, things have changed, and not for the better.  I did the process on the phone, and in that time I spoke with 2 women, and 1 man.  They were all very nice, and helpful.  What was really lacking was the service itself.  The phone system was terrible, and in so many ways.  But, who cares?  I really didn’t.  I was going to put up with this, make an appointment, and just be done with it.  I had plenty of things to do, so I just went about my other tasks, including driving, while I went though this process, and I almost never talk while driving.  

I could go into details about how getting lost on their automated system made it a bad experience, but you can imagine that.  It was quite bad.  The first two options ask if you have a medical emergency, or if you want to commit suicide.  Clearly, not much has been invested in this system.  And to make a long story short, once they found my military record and verified my eligibility, they asked me my income.  To my surprise, my income vastly disqualifies me for their medical service.  The last man I spoke to asked me, “well, if it is not by much, maybe your medical expenses will bring you back into…”. No.  I was past it by multiples.  

I was fine with that.  I thanked him for his time, and that was it.  Later that day, it was clear to me why some Americans resist the type of universal medical care that I think all Americans should have.  I’m pretty fortunate.  I can get medical care without going through mind numbing phone systems.  I have doctors who form associations with me, and make my routines easy.  My experience with medical care vastly outpaces what I experienced today, and it all became clear.  It is not that America can not afford the care that we need.  Those Americans who oppose care for all, it is that they want care that they can buy and others can’t.  Why?  Well, in my moment of clarity, those who would oppose care for others feel that they can trust the care that they can buy and others can not.  It is a certain sort of faith.  They believe in a dollar, and those who have fewer believe in those dollars.  Each one is worth 100 cents, and not even Fox News will tell you differently.  It is not disputed.  And the more of those you can pull together, the better result you will receive.  That is basically true in the US, in most of the commodities that we seek.

Conversely, universal care is a sort of system.  The more who buy into it, the better it is.  It is most especially so when the wealthier pay into it.  The Social Democrats in Scandinavia and even Canada do much better in health outcomes than we do here in the US because they’re is broad buy in.  (I’m preaching to the choir here). The Americans who oppose these do not trust systems.  Wealth means control, and wealth disparity is the litmus.  Those who oppose systems would rather control their outcome even at the risk of a worse result because they lack the trust of what can be done systematically.

That is the big part that just keeps expanding like a chain reaction.  The more systematic something is, the more diverse it is, the less trusted it is…by those who lack such trust.  This creates strict tribalism.  Who you know becomes much more important than what you know…or what THEY know.  You never have to trust what they know.  

This thing that I think I realized, has helped me to understand how Trump’s supporters, as one example, continue to follow him.  It even helps me to understand how some of his previous opponents like Lindsey Graham can become and Ted Cruz can become such strong defenders of him.  The evidence based group is easy enough to understand.  The epiphany came with the non evidence based.  Someone like Trump can be proved wrong, and it is of no consequence because facts never mattered to begin with.  They don’t trust those.  They trust their connections.  Connections can be manipulated and controlled.  Outcomes matter.  Systems, models, and sophisticated knowledge does not matter.  The Constitution doesn’t matter.  International laws don’t matter.  The Periodic Table of Elements doesn’t matter.  Neither inductive nor deductive reasoning matter.  

Any lie will work as long it is said by your guys.  Any success by your opponent is either a fraud or the greatest failure in the history of failures.  Evidence doesn’t.  It is not part of the picture.  Qanon should have disappeared after January 6th when the mass arrests that were part of the myth did not materialize.  And for some followers, it ceased to be a thing.  But, as we all know, Qanon continues.  Again, it should have disappeared after Trump was not inaugurated on March 4th, as the recent pivot myth predicted.  It isn’t disappearing because they do not require trust from their people.  They belong.  And no matter how quickly the Biden administration makes order out of the chaos that has reigned, those opposed to him will never acknowledge it.  They don’t trust science, vaccines, medicine, government, or mainstream media.  It is all how they define trust, and about whom they invest it in.  

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