Transparency And Responsibility In American Life

You are blind to the truth.

I am blind.

We are all blind.

And our ears don’t seem to want to listen, nor do we seem to care that things are the way they are.

I am talking about the reality of American Life. And if it where just one thing and not pretty much everything, then you could fix that one thing, maybe. From Healthcare to What You Eat to Immigration to Wars to Startups.

I mention all those areas in this article and challenge to add a few more.

Everything we do right now needs to become transparent, where we take responsibility, because most activities and processes in America right now are not transparent, and there are forces trying to keep it this way.

So what am I talking about really?

Ok, let’s start with healthcare. What does a simple doctor’s visit really cost? Do you actually know? I am not talking about the payment YOU make as you leave the doctor. I am talking about what was really payed by insurance companies to doctors, clinics and hospitals. Ever end up in the hospital for a short stay. You may be paying $2000 in deductibles, but what was the real cost? It could easily be $100,000. What is the monthly deductible? Add that up yearly and see what you pay as a percentage of your salary. Doesn’t matter if you are liberal or conservative. This is a matter of transparency. Until we are responsible for a bill, where you say to the doctor “hey you billed me three times, now fix it!” And you personally are responsible… the price will continue to go up indefinitely. We all need to be responsible to change the system. By the way, half the time I figure out my own illness myself by doing a little research and have had doctors often be wrong. They are human. Don’t just accept a doctor’s opinion. Get another opinion and challenge that one. Find a home made remedy instead of a pharmaceutical if possible! Trust me, I have.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Chocolate. You like it right? I do. I like dark chocolate. You get it on Halloween, Christmas, Passover. I eat it at least once a week, somewhere. It is always on a desk somewhere for me. You ever wonder where it all comes from… Well apparently Americans don’t want to know. If you wanted to really know the answer, you would google where it comes from and find much of it is created from chocolate bean farms worked by dirt poor people, practically slave labor and child labor whether in Africa or China. Needs to say on the package what it really is about so we can understand what we are eating.

Sugar. Something changed in the American diet about 30 years ago when they started to use high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar in many products, especially fast food. I don’t know the science but it is something that you need to avoid. I personally think it causes moodiness, depression and obviously it will lead to being overweight. We buy things with high fructose corn syrup all the time, like pretty much any fruit drink. But do we actually look at the label carefully. It is there in plain site on products we buy. This one is transparent, but you were not looking! Better to start now. The real problem is at fast food restaurants where you get high fructose corn syrup and don’t even know you are it in your system.

Your checking account. I have not been able to reconcile it in over 15 years since online banking. Who really knows where that monthly charge comes from that I can’t seem to figure out? Having things be easier doesn’t mean you need to look at it less and less.

Illegal Immigrants. All this fuss about people who come here to the US to work. The reality, if you wanted to know the truth, is illegal immigrants are lured and invited here by all kinds of employers who get them to work for a lot less than minimum wage. Those employers make a bigger profit, save money or stay in business whether pickers, lawn service, child care or whatever they do. Illegal immigrants are part of the US economy. And somebody is benefiting from them. But what’s best for those who benefit is to not discuss what immigrants do, where they come from and why they are here (trust me some big farms and small farms really depend on the low labor rates), but next time you eat an orange think twice about the fact that oranges are hand picked by people who are willing to work for less. Make them transparent. That means give them an ID card, have them pay medical insurance fees (because we are all paying for them now) and do it the right way, out in the open!

Citizens United. This is the biggest tragedy in American life today. Now we are expected to accept the fact that a multi-billion dollar corporation has the same freedom of speech and rights as an individual. Sounds reasonable, but it is anything but reasonable. It is used as a guise to say that corporations can spend anything they want to influence the system. Now we don’t know who or what is behind buying ads during elections. Somehow that became law. wow. It’s a major problem of transparency.

Iraq war. A war in Iraq that nobody seemed to care it went on eternally. Nobody seemed to care about the cost. Nobody could explain why we were in the war in the first place. Nobody investigated all the military corporations who charged extraordinary amounts to run the war. There were trillions of dollars spent, yet nobody seems to want to go over how much was spent or how much they are spending. Of course they don’t want transparency. None of us are taking responsibility for this. It is always somebody else.

Startups. I have met with or heard over 200 startups pitch to me directly or at an event in the past 3 years. I have worked directly for 7 as a startup consultant, employee or partner. Do you really want to know how many times I have met with a startup that tells me they have already spent $100k, $300k, $600k, $1 million and still are not clear about what they are doing exactly. Can people be so focused on what they think the world needs and not be willing to go out and simply ask people if they are willing to pay for it! Just ask. Be responsible. If they say no, move on. I understand, people don’t want to look at themselves in the mirror.

And for whatever reason, it seems like the lack of transparency or responsibility has become our American way of life.

Let’s boil it down to this. Are you the guy or gal who purchases an exercise bike from a TV ad where they say for only $16.95 a month you can start the process of owning your own exercise bike? Well, they never said how many months you pay. That is not illegal. You could pay $170 or $1700. Did you find that ding on your credit card for the next 5 years? Huh. Shouldn’t it be illegal to sell something where you don’t know how much it really costs?

Well, I do think people care about all these things that are not transparent, but say to themselves “what can I do about it?”

But you can do something about it. At least talking about it is a start.

Well, at some point I started to track down those extra charges on my credit cards. I even turned off most of my credit cards to eliminate whatever it was.

As far as the lack of transparency. You have to start by looking at everything with a different point of view. Ask your doctor as you checkout next time what was the actual real final charge to the insurance company plus what you are spending? When people say to you, get rid of all the immigrants, ask them do you know what immigrants actually do here in the US? Does your community use labor that is illegal? Hmm, well you may be personally benefiting. Take responsibility for that. When you grab your favorite RedBull, coke or fruit juice check the label carefully for high fructose syrup. Don’t buy it! Change your credit cards periodically to get any crazy monthly charges off of it. I am probably missing a dozen other things where people don’t really know what is really happening behind the scenes. Be vigilant and ask questions and don’t just accept fluff answers.

If you live in South Florida, on April 20th at 5:30 there will be a tech startup pitch event with networking in Deerfield Beach at Seedtronic (yet another startup). Up to 10 companies will be pitching to a panel of investors and experts at this event. If you register through Meetup before April 12th, the event is FREE. After April 12th the event will be $15. Click Here for more information.

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