The Systems

The Systems That Entrap You

 

I see a few major systems mainstream enough worth mentioning. These are systems designed to be complex, hard to manage once you are within them, easy to get in but hard to get out of, with multiple financial layers and usually aggressively advertised to you – appealing mostly to your subconscious. These systems are heavily backed by the government and there is very extensive infrastructure that supports them. Many large industries stand to benefit from these large systems and there are multiple players involved.

I realize this is reading like the beginning of a conspiracy model but when we become institutionalized by such things we forget what life is really supposed to be like – fun, adventure, excitement, experiences. All of a sudden another war fought to preserve cheap gas at the pumps becomes justifiable. It’s sort of like the guide dog that spent all its life living for the sake of a task that it has forgotten how to have fun, run around and wag its tail.

True, you may not be able to escape all of these systems but by being aware you can make small changes that keep your from being the victim of these systems. In my opinion if you plan it out well you can avoid quite a few of these systems all together.

So here is the list:
  1. Residential Home
  2. Healthcare
  3. Marriage
  4. Personal Automobile
  5. Mobile Communication Device (ok fine, cell phone but isn’t MCD so much cooler?)
Residential Home

This one is the finest example of all. The mortgage industry makes a ton of investors rich through irresponsible lending practices and sketchy bookkeeping and then throws its hands up and blames it on the loan officers. Then the government comes in and bails it out and masks the problems by keeping interest rates artificially low. Okay, okay, okay… that’s not what this is about but let’s talk about buying a home. What facets are there? Credit report (so that’s credit card companies), realtors, home inspectors, mortgage brokers, lending banks, mortgage insurance, home owner’s insurance, state property tax office, contractors, and city municipalities. You are given a tax break not just for owning a home but for financing a home. You get to write off property taxes but you also get to write off a portion of your mortgage insurance… how convenient. Wait, what about poor people who no way in heck can ever afford buying a home, isn’t that discrimination against them? Oh no wait, they get  affordable government housing. Yes, getting off track again. So you get a down payment together, you get a ‘doctor’s loan’ because… you have a noble profession right? Nope, because you make a lot of money and will statistically always make good money. The mortgage industry alone will see to it that you keep making good money because us doctors have our loans sold to only the finest of institutions.

If you haven’t owned a house before you may not appreciate every one of these factors. I’ve owned 2 and on paper made money on both but I won’t get into that here. Still, I believe a residential real estate that one uses as a living space is for the most part (read, for the most part) a bad investment. Don’t think of renting as throwing your money away, there really is a lot more to it.

Healthcare

Here you REALLY have no idea what you’re getting. You can get an ACL repair cash for like $2,700 but your insurance gets billed $31,000 and pays… $7,850. Well yea, makes perfect sense to us because we’re doctors right?? Um, not quite. You as a family doctor are measured by how well you control your patient’s A1C… right, because you can make people do things. Yes, you can have an influence on people but no way can you get your diabetics truly under control unless you hold them hostage. Woa Dr. Mo! Hostage?? This guy!… This guy is getting a little carried away. Oh I see what he’s talking about… patient comes in wants to talk about his low back pain and I spend 90% of the time talking to him about his A1C which he does not want to take care of, he is very aware of what the A1C is and what it represents but frankly he just wants to live a comfortable life doing the things he likes to do. Yes, there is some underlying depression but let’s be honest how many therapists are out there that truly have the time to help these patients really get to the bottom of their lack of health. So yea, I set my agenda and once the patient abides by that I’m willing to talk about their back pain (now, imagine being the patient on the receiving end of this).

As of this writing you are forced to carry health insurance ], even if you’re healthy. The reasoning is that other people abuse the system so you should be punished to. I mean isn’t that why we put the lil’ old granny with her cute little walker through the xray machine at the airport? Then there is the concept of a deductible which is so archaic. There is the drug prescription plans which may or may not cover what you need.

Marriage

When did this become a ‘legal’ thing? I get the holy matrimony part. No sex before marriage. ‘Til death do us part. Recognition of same-sex couple’s rights. Monogamy. A convenient label for a healthy environment to raise children. And if it is a legal system why is it harder to exit it than enter it. Why does it cost a nickel to get married costs thousands of dollars to end it. Yes, Dr. Mo has been married once and divorced once. Fortunately, my partner was a very reasonable and intelligent person who did everything possible to make the process as painless as possible.

I think a premarital agreement is important to mention here. It was one of my better decisions. My partner at that time didn’t agree with it but I think it helped both of us in the end. I realize this is a very personal topic but it can save so much headache later and money of course.

Personal Automobile

You know where this is going. You have the oil industry and the contractors building roads and highways. Purchasing a car isn’t hard, it’s made intentionally easy because the sale of the car isn’t where the profits are made. It’s the repairs, the insurance you purchase, the oil changes and tire changes. Then there are the taxes you pay. Of course car insurance is now mandatory and it ties into your umbrella policy and your job (the ‘professional’ discount). Parking your car, making sure it’s safe, getting speeding tickets and getting it washed. More so in the past 20 years cars are so poorly made that they have to be replaced after a short period of time. Just the thought that 4,000 lbs of metal/plastic/glass has to be discarded because it can no longer serve the function it once did is shocking and disturbing. I won’t get into detail here but want to just mention that a 1965 mustang that’s driven minimally is so much better for the environment/the world/your health than living further away from work and purchasing a 40 mpg vehicle.

Naturally, I believe it’s far better to escape out from under this system. Get rid of your car, move closer to work and commute by bike or public transport. Furthermore, I don’t see motorcycles or mopeds to be any different. They are a continuum of an unhealthy car culture that we have. I realize that it seems so insurmountable to take such a step but many have done it and there are fantastic resources out there if you decide to make the change. I wrote something about it here.

 

Cell Phones

Why is it that you can’t just buy a cell phone and have it come with everything you need right off the bat? Instead you have to purchase insurance from one company (of course, you should be self-insuring), purchase a cell/data plan and of course the phone has to be purchased as well. True, this has been streamlined a bit more. But phones are so over-engineered now that they become obsolete quickly. Cell/data providers change pricing and services constantly usually getting you into some sort of contract. You are pulled into so many different directions with a phone that you don’t even realize it until you actually step out of it for a while. For nearly 2 years I’ve had a company cell phone, provided by my work with zero expense out of my pocket except for charging it. It is amazing how much more mind freedom I have by not having to worry about data, talk time, text etc.

Ask your employer and find out under what circumstances they might cover your cell phone entirely. If that’s not an option then look into companies like Ting which offer the same quality service at far discounted rates because you will pay for what you use.

 

Have you found your own ways of manipulating these ‘systems’ to your advantage?
What in your budget do you think hurts you the most financially?

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