Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Ounce of Prevention
AJ Robinson

Some months ago, my wife started going to the gym for water aerobics. Her health isn't so good, she's on disability and paying the gym membership was part of her therapy. It turned out to be quite helpful to her.

My wife lost weight, her muscles firmed up and her balance improved. She's now facing back surgery. The doctor says that her gym activities will help shorten her rehab and recovery.

Eventually, she convinced me to join. Now, in my case, I had to pay for my membership and I was reluctant to do so. Since losing my job as an engineer two years ago, I've had to pay for my own health insurance and that ain't cheap!

My health insurance plan doesn't cover much. This is a common fault of insurance purchased by an individual. When you're not part of a group, either you pay excessively to cover everything or you save money by going with the minimum.

Given our financial circumstances, I had to go with the minimum. Our money stretched about as far as possible, I had to wonder about spending even a little on a gym membership. Yet, I had to admit, it'd done wonders for my wife.

I decided to join. After all, I'm now forty-something; with my fifties just around the corner, a corner that's getting closer and closer, I know heart disease, diabetes and a host of other health problems are also just around that corner! Going to the gym, a couple days a week, I lost weight, got a good cardio workout and firmed up the old flabby frame. I look at the gym as a necessary investment, an investment against major illness down the road.

That got me thinking, it's too bad that more people can't get to the gym, think of all the illnesses you could avoid or delay for a long time. After all, the US has real problems with obesity; some regular workouts could really trim the fat. Yet, what insurance companies are going to go for that? No, they'd much rather pay the big bills later or drop coverage on the person.

It also got me thinking about other, non-medical, issues in our country. Today, we have a major financial crisis and now we're trying to fix the banks. Now, I'm no accountant, I don't know who's to blame for this mess, but, I must say, doesn't the same message apply here?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If we set things up ahead of time to prevent banks from getting into such a meltdown condition, wouldn't that be better than bailing them out after the fact?

How about mining: recently, there was a major disaster in a coalmine. Once again, lax regulations, industry ignoring the rules that did exist, and the workers intimidated and afraid to complain - all of these combining to make a recipe for disaster.

Now, the ultimate threat is offshore oil drilling rig explosion and leak. If the rig had merely put into place the standard safety precautions, this probably wouldn't have happened. That would have cost money and time, two things that are in short supply in the business world. So now, we face an environmental disaster that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, at the minimum, and mar the landscape for decades, if not generations, to come. When you mix still more lax regulations with regulators who were "in bed," figuratively and literally, with the industry, disasters will continue to follow.

It all goes back to the rule: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

No one wants too much government or too many rules and laws, but we need some minimal regulations. We have to ask, do we want to pay a little now or a lot later?

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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