About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Have We Really Come To This?


In the last blog post I posed the question “is the survival of mankind not an acceptable option if it cuts into profit margins?”  I hoped I was wrong about the supposition that it might be the case.

I was not.

Last night at the Republican debate, the line that brought out the most enthusiastic cheering was when the question was asked by Wolf Blitzer: What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a hospital and doesn't have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage? "Are you saying society should just let him die?"  The response from the crowd was to scream “Yes, yes.”  Ron Paul clarified it by saying that "We have given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves, assume responsibility for ourselves ... that's the reason the cost is so high."  He explained that this was a root choice for a free society.


It is a root choice for a free society to allow someone to die because they are not able to afford health insurance?  And understand here, it is not just a “choice” to not have health insurance.  My friends who are uninsured are not in that situation by choice.  They have no other options. 

My health insurance runs $815.00 a month.  I am 40, and if my mother was not willing to sacrifice in her life to pay for that, I would be un-insured.  I have a well paying job, but unless I want to live in poverty, with a good job, I can’t afford it.  I am healthy, at least relatively, I don’t smoke, I am not obese, I don’t have high blood-pressure, depression or any other condition that would make me a bad risk.  My only health problem at this point is that I’m getting older.  And 40, in today’s society, is not that old.  I worry what it will be when I’m 50.

To further hammer home the point, I have a friend who is staying in a disastrous marriage simply because she would not get insurance any other way.  Her employer does not provide it, and she has enough health problems that, if she could even find a company willing to insure her, the cost would be around $1,500.00 a month.  She is lucky to clear $2,000 a month.  That means, to have health insurance, she would have to live on $500.00 a month.

And, again, in this economy, she's lucky to have that.  She has a job, after having looked for over a year.  She may be underemployed, but she is employed.  She cannot look for a new job to be able to get insurance, so she stays in a toxic situation in order to be able to have insurance.

This is an unsustainable situation in America.

Where is the social compact?  Where is the glue that binds our society together?  Where is the thought of the greater good?

The Seven Deadlies rear their ugly head again.  Greed and envy are driving our society and fuck anyone who doesn’t want to play along, they can just die.  And good riddance, they are leaches.  At least that is the way we seem to think at this point.  If you can’t afford insurance, or housing, or food, it’s your own damn fault and you should have made better choices in life.

Right, I get it.  We don’t care about each other anymore.  The social compact that binds society together is broken.

There is no virtue in denying others the right to live.  Wait, I forgot, the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.  Once you are out of the womb, you can take care of yourself.  And if you happen to be born into a family that can’t afford to keep you alive after you come into this world, that was apparently a poor decision on your part and you need to be held accountable for that bad judgment.

I do want to be clear here, I am not talking about medical care to prolong a person’s life by a week, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, when the outcome will still be death.  I’m not talking about heart transplants for octogenarians.  I’m not talking about sticking feeding tubes and ventilators in a brain dead person.  I’m talking about basic, or even extraordinary, medical care for a person who has a reasonable possibility of recovering and leading a decent life.

As a society, we need to work together.  We must rely on each other, help each other.  We’re all in this together, and further, all of your money will mean nothing when you are stuck in the ground.  There we are all equal, the rich and the poor.

It is a shame that we don’t feel that way while we are still alive.

1 comment:

  1. Being in college and uninsured is horrible. My parent's coverage on me ended when I turned 22, regardless of being in college. They were still willing to pay, if I could be kept on their plan, not at $400 extra a month. Then my finger was broken and I set it myself due to lack of insurance. This was a bad idea. We-the United States- are the only 1st world country not to offer health care to ALL citizens. What does that really say about us?