Have you ever wished you could fly? I have, and it is a frequent source of my dreams. While in slumberland, I have a secret ability, when the wind is right, to soar aloft and to look down on folks and the terrain below. I've never thought to measure how high I am as the weather and wind conditions are precarious. Yet I don't ever recall crashing, either. Mostly, it is the soaring, that uplift, the freedom "to slip the surly bonds of Earth."
I picked a good time to get sick: during the 2018 Winter Olympics. What a treat to observe these athletes proudly representing their countries and giving their all — a display of humanity at its best with physical prowess, mental toughness, and sportsmanship amid intense competition. And with the familiar logistics of ice, snow, and cold. Unending story lines have emerged, including repeat winners, surprise winners, disappointments, and smaller countries like Norway and the Netherlands producing impressive results. Who would have expected a joint Korean women's hockey team?
Events this past year were truly unsettling: Las Vegas; North Korea; hurricanes; floods; fires; and the U.S. executive and legislative branches' inability to deal with health care, taxes, national debt, and more. Worse, the public mood is unhealthy. Divisions among government officials and common folks persist and are genuinely uncomfortable to observe. What might be the origins of such widespread and passionate disagreement? It may sound trite and simplistic, but consider the following: Lost in all the clamor and posturing has been the role of values.
Once upon a time a label was something attached to a consumer purchase. It was a price tag or an explanation of the food, clothing, or whatever the item. Unfortunately, we now see labeling extending to an exploitation of judgment over facts. Labeling now entails people and events. It includes spin, distortion, name-calling, hype, even "fake news."
I just finished reading J.D. Vance's best-seller, "Hillbilly Elegy," as part of a nonfiction book club assignment. The author cited his upbringing in poverty-stricken Appalachia and his struggles to emerge from such a backward environment. As a U.S. Marine, Yale graduate, attorney, and, now, successful author, he indeed has "emerged." His book recalls both the negative and positive influences in his development.
Is profit a bad word? It seems to be if you're listening to Sen. Bernie Sanders and too many others of the progressive persuasion; they contend businesses steal from exploited workers to boost profits, thereby increasing business owners' wealth. Let's stop and examine further some pertinent considerations surrounding profit.
What would it take to craft a bipartisan health care plan, health care Americans could embrace and actually feel good about? The Democrats in 2009 drew up Obamacare, egregiously mislabeled the Affordable Care Act, with all 60 Democrats voting in favor and with zero Republican support. In 2017, the Republicans are mirror-imaging that same strategy, worrying now that if more than two senators defect their plan could perish.
How meaningful was it to grow up in Duluth? How might I have turned out differently had I been in a different city? Better? Worse? Unchanged? A cold snap last winter combined with some health issues found me exercise-deprived; walking was prescribed, but nothing strenuous such as stretching or lifting. Reading, podcasts, and Netflix temporarily filled the workout void. It was during this interlude that the above questions arose.
What's not to like about Canada? I have visited there many times to fish, hunt, watch hockey, and go sightseeing (often alone, less often with family and friends). Recently, I traveled to Canada to attend a relative's funeral. Each time there I have been reminded of a simpler, lower-paced lifestyle — the way the U.S. used to be. Canadians are friendly, courteous, and seemingly less complicated in their pursuits. Life seems less hectic and more serene in their country. There appears to be more civility and less divisiveness.
With Obamacare fraught with problems, and with Republicans unable to responsibly respond with something better, we hear increasing calls for single-payer health care, stating it is not unlike Medicare. After working with health insurance over 40 years in business, now retired, I have some pro and con observations. For starters, there is no perfect health care system.