Searching for Their $500 Toilets
June 23, 2010
I remember in the 1970's when there were news items about the military paying $500 for a toilet seat and maybe also $500 for a hammer.
Everyone seemed to me to be shocked by this and said "This kind of thing has to stop! It'll ruin the nation!"
Full stop. Period. (I'm old enough that I've received a telegram.)
It seems that today that many folks out there -- maybe most Americans? -- are searching as hard as they can for their own $500 toilet. ...Some way that they can bill a huge amount for an ordinary item. Some way to get ahead, if only to cover their own overhead.
It seems that many in the various professions have found out just how to perform this exact miracle.
Our neighbor just bought a new Saturn car. Something went wrong with a wheel and it had to be replaced. It cost $500.
I've heard a few stories recently about emergency room bills that boggle the mind. Like, someone went in for a few hours and it cost $30,000. That kind of thing.
I just went in for my first physical therapy sessions. My hip went bad last summer and it was still sore and crampy so I finally asked the doc what it was and he gave me a prescription for PT. I went in for a half-hour consult and the guy said it was a muscle that needed reviving and others that had overworked so he gave me a few stretches and exercises to do and said I should come in for a few sessions. I told the guy that I had a high-deductible policy so I'd likely be paying all my own cash so I'd need as quick of treatment as possible. He said, Oh yes, this should be a quick and easy fix. I left, came back and did a PT session where they had me do a few more stretches and exercises for a half hour. Because I have a high-deductible insurance policy I thought to ask how much this had cost. It was $360 for the consult and $260 for the visit to stretch. My steely jaw dropped. I could've easily done all the exercises at home if they'd given me a hand-out. They had wanted me to come in for at least 6 jiffy stretching visits. And they'd never mentioned cost. I'd told the secretary also about my insurance and cash-basis situation.
We plan on camping up north in our travel trailer for the summer in support of Martha while she does seven art fairs on the weekends. Public campgrounds with their $15 no-hook-up sites are completely booked up until autumn. But private campgrounds these days charge $50-60 a night for a simple no-hook-up campsite! Thankfully there appears to be a way to get public sites by showing up the-day-of. Not all sites are part of the online reservation system. And not everyone shows up. So a bunch of sites are always available on first-come basis.
The reality is that folks don't go camping anymore as a way to be thrifty and save money. It must be part of some vested-interest middle-class experience. Folks take their new $30,000-300,000 trailers and RV's to "campgrounds" and spend a chunk-a change. ...More money than middle-class folks used to spend by far. I say vested interest because the only people who can afford $60/night for no-hook-up camping are those who are charging someone else $260 to stretch for a few minutes...
To sum: The people who refuse to play any sort of racket at all have to create their own alternative society. I suppose they also have to get used to doing without. They'll have to make their own fun. Maybe they should start developing their own campgrounds out in empty state forest land. You can camp out there for free for 2 weeks at a time.
The sad thing there, of course, is that so far only the criminal element cares to do that kind of free-form culture. Around here, anyway. Seemingly.
It's a bit like how more private campgrounds around the country are banning tents. Tents mean bums. Drunks.
When you free-camp in the nice places in state forests here in Michigan -- say, on river-bluffs high over the mighty Manistee river where there are a dozen nice spots along a mile of two-track -- all you hear is drunken screaming all night long as the groups of partiers try to out-compete each other around their huge trash-and-gas based bonfires. Fireworks, gunfire, mufflerless midnight ATV racing. There are usually permanent party tents left standing, with half-burned sofas next to them -- at these nice overlooks to "hold the place" for the weekenders.
A friend and I recently tented along the Pine River in an area where it's all state land and only one private cabin along several miles of river. The approved tenting area is a quarter-mile back of the river since it's designated "Wild & Scenic." We picked our tent area and went fishing. We saw the one cabin a quarter mile away and no one was there. Ah, bliss. We'd biked the upper 2-track earlier and no one was camping there either. It was autumn but before hunting season. As it got dark we heard sounds at the cabin. We figured out that one guy had driven in. After it got dark we started hearing some rock'n'roll. Then the screaming started.
It only takes one.
Maybe he hadn't found his $500 toilet. Maybe he had and he was paying the price.
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