The ancient greeks had a saying: Every virtue is a median between two extremes. This is to a large extent , true. Americans can be over the top. Everyone can. After 911, we went over the top. We developed some of the most intrusive laws ever created - the Patriot act being the shining example. A government that already held too many ties to corporations - suddenly found itself with a former CEO holding high level meetings to define policy. How do you think they were driven? Do corporations act in the interest of a nation, or their shareholders?

And so it goes. Insurance companies hire people to draft legislation, and take elements of reform that were intended to finally end the medical industry insanity in our country, and instead expand a law - which will soon go into effect - to a level of complexity that defies perception. It's centerpiece: you are required to buy insurance.

And a few days ago, with rain approaching - I decided to head over to an indoor pool and go for a swim. But when I reached there, the pool was closed. Why? Because they heard one peal of thunder. And they have a rule now, that if there is any lightning or thunder anywhere - they wait until they can no longer hear it for 30 minutes. Why? Is it really, to protect me? Or is it because some insurance company decided that if they could meddle with their rules - they could decrease the net payout on their life insurance policy. "Liability issues" are just that - it's difficult to justify putting any small children in danger. But danger is also the essence of life. And when a building, with a steel reinforced frame - acts as a Faraday cage, a lightning storm happening in another city simply is not a threat. How many people do you know, were ever struck by lightning inside a safe building?

None? But there was one, somewhere. And the insurance company had to pay a policy on that date. And later, as in all corporations - the people who founded the company being long gone - the accountants within rise to the top, and look on their balance sheet and find a number. They have no idea the number came from, they don't care - they're looking at the bottom line. And so they activate a mechanism all major corporations seem to have developed over the past 15 years of our history - they call up their lobbyist.

Most lobbyists have some legal background. They know what they can and can't get away with. Their names and functions change with the wind. In general , they are hired on as consultants. The corporate interest they serve, in order to save their bottom line - will account their activities under several categories. In our case, the Insurance company will likely find a way to test the limits of what they can legally get away with - in issuing their policy. They pay to discover words that carry menace to their policyholders. But the worst part of it is - as soon as we begin to accept their role - a conductor begins to form within the network of our society - and the advisors of the building, who own the indoor pool - begin to question what they can and can't allow. And a place that was once meant to allow children to grow, goes dark for the simple fact that there exists a non zero probability.

So much of life is not cut completely clean. Kids who play outside get scraped, dirty and bitten by bugs. A mosquito could carry a form of virus and transmit it by a single bite. Hunting for squirrels with a slingshot can lead to a stray shot that takes out a window. There are non zero probabilities for everything, even the possibility that a waterspout could theoretically hit an area of the ocean, occupied by a feeding frenzy - and rain man eating sharks down upon an unsuspecting population.

Rules, however, hold a special place. Our founding fathers believed that the government which governs best, is one that governs least. Washington, in particular - would have lauded healthcare reform. His was a view that government was a central authority, and its function was to coordinate and act for the best interests of a nation. He would have loved the idea that we, as a people - finally took it upon ourselves to see to it that how we treat the least of us at their lowest , became our measure.

And indeed - when is it that you get sick? Do you ever know when you will fall? No. And it will always come at the time which you least expect it. You may have bills to pay. Insurance is a viable, and useful thing.

However, hospitals have slowly - over the past thirty years - changed the way they do their pricing. A visit to the emergency room, where a doctor will look at you for 20 minutes, and then glance at an X Ray - becomes a seven thousand dollar medical bill. Cups that contain aspirin become "oral delivery systems" and are billed out at 40.00 a piece. Then, since Insurance companies that pay claims for 300.00 worth of billing , for two days of aspirin and three paper cups - end up getting 40, 50, even 70 percent off. And each company gets a different bill. A hospital used to be a place where people cared for other people, and doctors were paid a fair wage. Now , teams of doctors hustle through someone's sick room - each "specialized" in one field or another. All circling around the concept of liability. Moreover, also adding to a long bill - engineered by the hospital - to price as high as it possibly can.

Insurance companies adapt, but still overpay. Americans pay many times over per person, for the same medical care -than any other country in the world. One out of every six dollars in America, is spent on medical care. Think about it. How often have you been sick, in the past year? Once? How many days work have you missed? Maybe, what. Five total?
How about this: what if, every single wednesday -for the entire day- you had to switch from your job, and do nothing but medical billing? That's what it's like right now - except that if you did that, it would be only one out of every seven days. It's one out of every six. We are all overpaying.

And so , they create rules. And somehow, we as a society seem to be adopting the principle that rules exist only to help us. Have we forgotten the stamp act, of 1774? Probably. I'm not even sure I have the date right. But the law was written to pay a corporation - the East India Company - more profit from the sales of their tea to the American colonies. And we suddenly realized, if we had a government that was of the corporation, by the corporation - and for the corporation - that we would be living in a world of taxation without representation.

There is nothing wrong with reform, nothing wrong with rules - these are two objects of inherent potential for good. But there is everything wrong forgetting that life is a journey - and along the way we take risk. If we are alive,
we are part of an organic system of interlocking tiers of life. As I write this, far off in the distance - an owl makes its final call before it falls to sleep. And the dawn breaks.

An acorn falls on a tin roof. My leg feels like it fell asleep. My workshop smells faintly of rain.
There is an old dead tree that towers over it. It could fall at any time.

And if I make a rule, that it won't. Nature will ignore it. Lightning takes the path of least resistance. But we, as a people - should not. We should draft rules that make sense, but allow ourselves to preserve our essential humanity. At least one of which includes the idea that kids should be able to play freely.

Let there be rain. And sure, one day - maybe our number will come up. We never know. We've made alot of progress since the days where a home had to have a medallion from an insurance company, or the fire truck would drive right past it. One home, catching fire - can burn another. We all live with that possibility - and so, we have socialized fire prevention. Why not reform? Into all life, a zombie apocalypse must come.

The owl sounds again - I am reminded that he calls as much for the safety he has won for himself - high in a dead tree that could fall upon me - as for his own ability to see each day as a challenge, and live by his gut. If tomorrow comes and his wide eyes do not find mice in the dark, he starves. And in the dark water of the river nearby, fish swim in the rain. We are a part of that world. There is a non zero probability a dark meteor can hurtle down from the sky, and end it all.

I know the owl will not call. I write through the blue hour. His is a world of darkness. Light comes, and he sleeps. Every virtue as a median between two extremes.