Point of View: They Were Tougher

Health care’s exigencies

David Brooks lamented the other day that Americans are tending to stay put, while in the past they moved about quite a bit, were more adventurous. The short answer to that, I think, is health care’s exigencies.

When you had Blue Cross-Blue Shield, it didn’t cost much, and you could change jobs and locales without worrying about that coverage lapsing. My father did many things, quitting and moving on, he told me, whenever he got bored, which he often did. I think health insurance was not the issue for him, or for his generation, that it is for us.

In fact, I’m not sure health itself was the issue in my parents’ day that it is for us. You took what came and didn’t expect that much. Life spans were shorter, but now, especially given all the improvements in medical science, we’re clinging more to life. (I’m always reminded in this regard of what the French woman said: “Do you Americans want to die of good health?”)

Also, I don’t think people, people in general, were aware in the past of the seemingly endless list of diseases, physical and mental, that can attack you. Every parent knows of them now, and they’re rendered all the more fearful and timid because of this knowledge.

So you stay put, and ante up, and hope that the antibiotics will work. Before we went to Mexico, I was almost put on them, having had a tenacious cold, which would have been a cruel irony inasmuch as, when on them, as you know, you have to stay out of the sun and cannot drink. In the end, I found the margaritas salvific.

Though while the climate there is far more, I think, to Mary’s liking, she’s always talking of moving to Canada, while I, who wilt in the heat, keep saying we should move to Mexico. She’s worried we might run afoul of the cartels, but I think frostbite would be worse.

Of course, we’ll stay put (this place being among the nicest places to stay put in), and ante up, and hope that the antibiotics work.