The World Is Not Ending unless I’m a Kastanza

So much of my life has been built on the suggestions of others. Not the least of which (actually, almost the greatest of which) was that the world as we know it was going to come crashing down. I’m naive and gullible. I believe it when people I love or respect say things – even … Continue reading “The World Is Not Ending unless I’m a Kastanza”

So much of my life has been built on the suggestions of others. Not the least of which (actually, almost the greatest of which) was that the world as we know it was going to come crashing down. I’m naive and gullible. I believe it when people I love or respect say things – even when I should know better. Things like the big California earthquake is going to destroy us all (1975-1979) nuclear war is going to destroy us all (1980-1988) AIDS/HIV is going to kill everyone (1984-1994) there is going to be a huge race war (1976-1988) the Russians are going to invade like Red Dawn (1984-1988) Saddam Hussein is going to use chemical weapons and WMDs and destroy the world starting with the Middle East (1990-2003) Al Queda/ISIS is going to destroy America (2001-present), Y2k is going to destroy the world economy and create chaos (2000) Ebola (1994 &2011) Zika (2016), the Mayan Prophecy is going to destroy the world (2012) Obama is going to get assassinated by right wing hate-holes and a race war will rip apart the USA (2008-2012) and now Donald Trump is going to turn the USA into Nazi Germany or start a nuclear war with North Korea. I realize I’m late getting to the party, but I’ve finally reached the conclusion that the world is not going to end in my lifetime or any time soon. So I’m sharing it with you.

The problem is that in my naïveté, I was so sure that the world was going to end that I didn’t bother making preparations in case the world didn’t come to an end. I’ve lived my life in such a way that I could feel good about making the most of the time I have been alive and not worry about what will happen when I become old and unable to take care of myself. Oops.

Of course, I might just be a George Kastanza in which case now that I am preparing for a world that won’t end – it might just.

The Problem with Van Living Today

You can still do it – I’m sure of that. I’m not doing it though. I’m glad that I lived in VW vans back in the 1990s before there were 80 million retirees downsizing into their $100k RVs. As with most things, I blame the baby boomers. Huge numbers of them decided to stop living in houses and in typical baby boomer fashion, they screwed up living in vehicles for everyone else. They ruined the campgrounds with their RVs and generators and satellite TV noise, they drove up the prices in the campgrounds, they took up all the free parking and necessitated municipalities putting up ‘No Overnight Parking’ signs, and since most of them kept their home while they were doing it (just taking a break) they helped drive up the cost of renting or buying a home. I’m glad I was able to live in a VW in the 1990s – that may not have been as sweet a time to do it as back in the 1960s and 1970s – but it was pretty sweet. There were still lots of free campgrounds, the National Parks weren’t very expensive yet, the community of van-dwellers was small enough to be inclusive and large enough to be anonymous but not large enough to make people nervous about vehicles parked on the streets in residential neighborhoods. Unless I have to, my days of Rough Living are behind me. It’s been a long time since I lived in a VW – and I sincerely hope that all the van living I will do in the future will be for short term camping trips with my family. The solution is not to move into a vehicle any longer – if it ever was at all.

Insurance

We have insurance – just in case. Life insurance in case we die – that’s $60 per month. Auto insurance in case we have an accident in the cars that’s another $150 per month. I have health insurance through the VA and my wife provides coverage for all of us through her work – that’s another $200 per month (would be more if she didn’t have the job) – and then we have AAA towing insurance (which is the one that has provided the most value to us through the years) which is roughly $12 per month. We have other forms of insurance, but they aren’t labeled as such so I’ll just stick with these for now. These add up to $422 per month which comes out to $5064 per year. Now, let’s assume that I was a $10 per hour worker – my insurance needs wouldn’t change – so that would mean that I would be working 506 hours per year for insurance. Let me break that down – that’s slightly more than 63 days each year that I’m not getting paid but I’m working for 8 hours. That means that I’m working for the insurance companies for two months out of every year in return for the insurance.

Granted – if we need the insurance, it’s money well spent. However, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way this is done. I can see why there are so many people who go to great lengths to get disabled status (yes, there are people who are disabled but there are many who must make a big stretch to be classified as such). And yes, I could reduce our coverage and pay less. We could cancel the life insurance and AAA, we could sell our cars and use bikes and public transportation, and we could drop the health coverage to the bare legal minimums – but I’m not likely to do that – the society we live in offers too many opportunities for financial ruin – it sometimes feels as if the structure of our society has been constructed BY the insurance companies in order to harness us and force us to work (or to show ourselves unfit to be workers).

Homeowners will be quick to notice that I didn’t include homeowners insurance – we don’t own a home. We probably would own a home if we had been able to keep that $5k per year because then we would have the down payment of $20k but of course, then we would have homeowners insurance on top of the other insurance – which, frankly, to me, always makes it feel a bit like you don’t own the home at all – even after you’ve paid the bank back for the loan you had to take to get the home. After 2007, there were a lot of people who quickly discovered they didn’t actually own the home they called their own – the banks did – and still do.

There are other insurances I do not own. I can’t afford more insurance because I need to work the other ten months to pay rent, electric, water, gas, repairs, food, and to buy the things that we need to live. I appreciate the benefits of insurance, but I hate insurance.

Reality TV and Social Media

I think it’s too bad that reality TV came before social media. Before there were social media stars, there were reality TV stars and unfortunately, they were mostly assholes who became stars because of their bad behavior – and I think they may have shaped the way social media stars went about getting the spotlight.

Imagine if social media had been an opportunity for kindness and altruism to be rewarded instead of just more assholes grubbing away for attention.

But maybe that’s just a fantasy. About a decade ago I started a website called NiceHuman – the idea was that people could submit stories about nice humans – they could nominate friends, family, community members, or just point out a story where a human was nice.

At the same time, I had a website called TerrorSuspect – guess which one got all the traffic? The nice human site got so much hatred spewn in the comments section and so little traffic (not to mention people taking the time to say that someone was a nice human) that eventually, I shut it down.

We play life these days like it’s a game of Survivor or like we are all in the Big Brother House. It makes sense in a way, we are on camera most of our lives now in one way or another and our society seems to reward bad behavior while at the same time decrying the bad behavior and rewarding more.

We’ve all become selfish assholes. Or maybe the camera has just cleared away the illusion that we weren’t always selfish assholes. Either way, you are on your own. I’ll see you at tribal council.

What is a baby boomer?

I’ve mentioned them in a lot of things I’ve written about – they are the cause of virtually all the problems in the world. In case you are wondering what a baby boomer is, here is what I am talking about when I mention a baby boomer. Baby Boomer = White (non Jewish, non Hispanic) American born between 1941 and 1961. I realize that many definitions make them from later or earlier – but essentially they are kids born during or after World War II but before Vietnam to white American parents without Jewish or Hispanic heritage. There you go. Note: There are good baby boomers, but they are very rare.

special note before baby boomers leave comments: No one cares