I blog to you now from the porch, and will eventually get to healthcare costs.
The latest of the long string of unused devices which various friends have loaned/given to me is a wireless internet hub. This means I can now become dangerously addicted to playing Metroid Prime: Hunters online (friend codes to be posted later), but more to point I can connect to the nets from anywhere in the apt. So, as I sit here in the sun drinking iced tea and posting, the image goes in the rapidly growing bank of ‘ain’t-like-it-used-to-be’ topics.
I assume the question of whether or not the increasing influence of technology had made the human experience better has been addressed every year since 1800, so we’re going to pass on that today. Instead, let’s just assume that a simpler life could be happier. If I were to go Office Space and opt out of the life I have led up until now, what would my options really be? How does one go about getting off the grid?
I see three major approaches: Robinson Crusoe, My Side of the Mountain, and the Merlin archetype.
Crusoe: Find a desert island and live off them fruits. Forget that — hurricanes, man. And anyway, I assume all decent desert islands are no longer desert.
Mountain: Live a nomadic life in the uninhabited forests of the world. Survive off berries, acorns, roots, and the occasional trapped rabbit. In order to do this, I would clearly need to move south. I would pick a very large state park, put all my funds in a bank account in the nearest town, grab a knife and throw myself into the green. I would bury a set of decent clothes in a box somewhere, so when I needed to bo back into town to buy new shoes or something I could look semi-presentable. With no income and no possessions, I would have no taxes to pay. Legends of a pair of wild folk who would steal unwary campers’ supplies if a small tithe were not laid out for them at night would crop up.
Merlin: Buy a small plot of land in the mountains and build a shack on it. Have a wood-burning stove for heat and cooking, a stream nearby for water, and no electricity. Have a small garden, and sell herbs etc from it to the store in town, making just enough per annum to pay property taxes. Teach wandering young men the mystical ways of nature before they go out and change the world. Spend life fishing, hunting, gathering and meditating.
The Merlin approach certainly sounds the best, but here are the issues.
#1: Those property taxes. I’d have to have some kind of income. Maybe I could learn the violin and give lessons (though some kind of wooden flute seems more appropriate).
#2: Travel. In order to live as a hermit, I would have to cut myself off nearly completely from family and friends, as I would never be able to go and see them.
#3: Medicine. Gotsta have medical help now and then, and forget that homeopathic baloney. If it worked, Pfizer would be all over it.
And so we come to it. As humans, we have to pay taxes. If we want to survive, we need medicine. If we want medicine, we pretty much need insurance. I mean, if a bear chews on me, where would I get the money for the emergency room visit? Would I just have to save up enough to cover that kind of thing before I start? So here we are at the money issue again.
Just not viable. So, I guess in order to enjoy the luxury of medical attention and longevity, I need to continue selling out. And if I’m going to do that, I might as well have internet access from my porch.