I teach my students at Berkeley and Stanford that the foundation of psychology, what motivates all of us to do whatever we do, is self-interest. I explain that even soon-to-be saints, like Mother Teresa, who spent her life feeding the poor, caring for the sick, did so out of self-interest. Mother Teresa was not altruistic. There is no such thing as Altruism. It is a religious construct to motivate good deeds, to get people out of our own heads, even for a moment, to consider others…
I had a bike accident in my early 30s and smashed in my head and knee. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital, something I would have protested had I been conscious at the time. I was in Emergency for over two hours, laying on a gurney unattended, the curtain around my small area the only thing separating me from ten other people laying on gurneys in the large room. I watched doctors and nurses pass me without stopping to inquire what I was there for. When I finally got a nurse’s attention I asked if I could go, but she insisted a doctor had to sign a release before I’d be allowed to leave.
Three hours into my Emergency visit a doctor came in and examined me. He told me I had a mild concussion that would heal itself, but my kneecap had been crushed in the accident and would have to be surgically repaired. I had no health insurance as a freelance designer, and there was no way in hell I could afford surgery. He assured me if I didn’t have surgery I’d be unable to continue playing racquetball, be drastically limited in most any sport, and probably limp the rest of my life. I left the hospital five hours after arrival in a wheel chair since I couldn’t walk with my knee blown up from the impact with concrete, and crying, knowing I could never afford the surgery he recommended, thinking I’d be crippled for life.
My sister was on a ski trip with her husband the same time I had my bike accident. She fell going downhill and tore her knee up pretty badly, ending up in a private hospital room in Lake Tahoe the same time I was in Emergency down in L.A. While I was still recovering in my rented house a week later, choosing between paying my hospital bill and eating for the next month, she was in surgery having her knee repaired by a renowned orthopedic surgeon at UCLA Medical Center. My sister’s husband was a commercial real estate developer, a millionaire since his early 20s, and they were fully insured.
President Obama lost his mother to ovarian cancer in 1995, around the same time I hurt my knee. In Obama’s own words:
“[My mother] was 52 years old when she died of ovarian cancer, and you know what she was thinking about in the last months of her life? She wasn’t thinking about getting well. She wasn’t thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality. She had been diagnosed just as she was transitioning between jobs. And she wasn’t sure whether insurance was going to cover the medical expenses because they might consider this a preexisting condition. I remember just being heartbroken, seeing her struggle through the paperwork and the medical bills and the insurance forms. So, I have seen what it’s like when somebody you love is suffering because of a broken health care system. And it’s wrong. It’s not who we are as a people.”
Obama’s mother’s employer-provided health insurance covered most of the costs of her medical treatment, leaving her to pay the deductible and uncovered expenses, which came to several hundred dollars per month. Her employer-provided disability insurance denied her claims for uncovered expenses because the insurance company said her cancer was a preexisting condition.
My knee eventually repaired itself for the most part. I was able to play racquetball a couple of months after the accident, and I don’t walk with a limp today. I was lucky. I would have died from cancer, or extended illness, unable to afford any treatment at that time. I did get medical insurance soon after my bike accident from Kaiser HMO, basically the bottom of the barrel in health care. The individual plan cost me $350 a month, lower than anyone else out there, and I lied on their application about per-existing conditions since my knee was basically healed by then.
My sister was back to skiing a month after the surgery. She’s had two more accidents and two more surgeries since, until she gave up skiing as probably not her sport. She can choose to go back to skiing any time, of course, because she’s had the best medical care money can buy.
Millions of Americans aren’t as luck as my sister and her family.
ObamaCare was NEVER about providing medical insurance for the wealthy. They don’t need it. The rich take care of themselves, always. Sometimes, many times, off the money they make on the backs of everyone else, but the bottom line is they don’t need assistance taking care of their own. ObamaCare was intended to cover those who can’t afford medical insurance, or medical care, or pay the outrageous hospital bills whether insured or not, that come after every stay, regardless how nominal.
Read more: http://jcafesin.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-reasoning-behind-obamacare.html
My cousin has two children. Her oldest, 15, was diagnosed with ADD when he was nine and has been on Ritalin since. He’s failing out of the private high school he attends in Manhattan. He lies, cheats, and steals when it suits him. He is volatile (way beyond normal teenage angst), and often violent with his mom and sister.
Her daughter, 11, also has trouble in her private school. According to her mother, she too has learning disabilities. She has very few friends, and is often cutting and cruel. She also lies constantly to get what she wants, and does whatever she wants regardless of opposition from authority.
The three of them live on the 10th floor of a posh apartment complex, in a huge flat overlooking the Hudson River in Battery Park. The Statue of Liberty, holding the torch of truth stands boldly in the bay and can be seen from almost every room of their home. My cousin and her ex-husband are very successful in their careers. She broke the glass ceiling only a few years out of graduate school and is now a top executive at the New York Stock Exchange. He is an architect. His style is distinct, and sought after, and can be seen all around Manhattan. Since both claim to be busy professionals, the maid of the month raises their kids during the long work week.
Every time we get together they virtually drop off their kids to my care. Dad, before and after the divorce, has always been a marginal part of the scene, off to work, or squash, or rollerblading along the waterfront. Mom stays with us, but she’s not really with us. She’s on her Blackberry texting her secretary, or on her cell phone chatting it up with some high powered executive about market trends, or on her laptop writing reports. She goes out for a two hour run, or off to the store for diet soda. The entire time we’re together she has little to no contact with her children.
My sister also has kids, a boy and a girl, a couple of years apart. During their formative years she was a stay-at-home mom, sort of. Her husband, a successful real estate broker who used his limited free time for cycling, skiing, rock climbing, provided his family a McMansion with all the trimmings in a desirable suburb north of L.A. He hired a live-in maid to clean house and handle the mundane aspects of child care so my sister could pursue her many muses. And pursue them she did. She played tennis several hours a day. She went out with friends; shopped, and shopped; redecorated her house every year. She took classes in cooking, massage, religion, exercise, went to music camps back east for the summers, and left the kids with grandparents, or the revolving housekeepers. She was one of those soccer moms who sat in the stands and gossiped, or read People or Jane, or was on her cell phone every other minute, attending the game but not really there.
Unable to manage her son’s disruptive behavior, my sister took him for counseling when he was ten. He was diagnosed with ADD. He took Ritalin from 12 until he was 20. Now 27, he smokes pot every day, pays his rent and bills with poker winnings and a small stipend from an inheritance trust fund, has not gone to college and has little prospects for the future. Her daughter, 24, is still only a junior after six years in college. She’s had few friends over the years, even fewer dates, and only recently her first [very] short term relationship. She lives on the money her parents provide without a clue how to make it on her own.
These two sets of kids struggle in life because their parents consistently catered to their own needs over those of their children. In doing so, they abandoned their kids to their own device, and left them to strangers, relatives, and society at large to raise them. Restrictions on behavior came from teachers, religious leaders and caretakers as commands—discipline imposed without love. Their parents didn’t bother to invest the staggering amount of time or thought required to help their kids decipher feelings, or examine abstractions like morality or values, or why they are important, or impart to them the seemingly endless list of rules we all must follow to get along.
The other day I was at the neighborhood pool watching my kids swim and play. All went well until a well-known rowdy kid arrived with his mom. She stood with her back to the pool and chatted on about her job, the upcoming hundred mile extreme run she was training 20 miles a day for, and the third Bruce Springsteen concert she and her husband had been to that week. She did not notice her nine year old son shoving kids into the pool, holding them underwater, pouncing, splashing and causing general havoc. Most everyone agrees her son, and six year old daughter, have severe ‘discipline’ problems. Though their mom labeled them ‘passionate,’ she admitted she was seriously considering her colleague’s suggestion to have her kids examined for ADD, or the latest variant: ADHD.
Even Wikipedia, can not state without dispute what ADD actually is, though a wide cross section of sources seem to agree it’s a behavioral disorder. Symptoms include Hyperactivity—like working all day, everyday, never putting your cell phone or Blackberry away; Inattention, the lack of ability to focus for an extended period of time—like creating multiple distractions such as tennis, classes and vacations for your entertainment instead of following through with any one thing. Impulsiveness is also an indicator, like going to see Bruce multiple nights in a row instead of doing the responsible thing and being at home with your kids.
Though they possess the symptoms, these parents do not have ADD, have never been diagnosed or even suspected of the disorder, even though most have had at least some experience in counseling. Their kids did not inherit their lack of focus. The Attention Deficit Disorder they ostensibly suffer from by and large comes from parental neglect, adults who haven’t figured out that once they produce children, most of their own priorities must become secondary to the needs of their kids.
Rich or not, working—having to or not, parenting is about paying attention, being attentive and present— being there when you’re with your kids. Certainly, rules need to be continually taught and enforced, but also discussed at length, not handed down as edicts from on high. Kids need detailed explanations, reasons to partake in our code of ethics, and out of desire, not disdain. Society is not sustainable filled with resentful children who grow into parents that never mature beyond self-interest. Children can not raise themselves above solipsism without example from those who have.
Or any higher power, no matter what you say on Numb3rs. Shame on you for saying he did, especially as a self-proclaimed atheists! http://jcafesin.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-morality-of-atheist.htmlhttp://jcafesin.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-morality-of-atheist.html
What is your idea of the good life? Are you living it now?