Living in a Broken System

The system we live in is founded upon an individual’s health. An individual’s ability to contribute to society and make a livelihood is crucial to being able to thrive and success in today’s world. Without good health, the rest of the system becomes harder, or nearly impossible, to attain.

After health, education is a huge priority in an individual’s ability to success and increase their potential and future work income. Once someone has received an education, he or she can go to work and make a living for themselves and/or their families. If all of these can be achieved, the individual will have to balance these and their extracurricular activities outside of work in order to live a fulfilling life and “succeed” living in today’s system.

Each step of the system, pictured above as a pyramid, requires the success of the preceding step in order to properly function. An individual cannot work without good health. Nor can an individual find balance and satisfaction without working and earning a sufficient income to pay for their necessities (rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, etc.).

The foundation of this system is much more fragile than it appears. Each level of this system must work optimally, without overloading. It is based on an assumption that most people in our society have good health to begin with or that having good health is easy to maintain. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in today’s society and economic climate. Our system also exemplifies how most people, including society as a whole, systematically takes good health for granted.

The biggest problem with this system is when an individual falls behind. For example, when someone’s health begins to fail or suddenly fails, without any warning.

Some people who have been in the work force for awhile, may have savings for emergencies, or short-term funds available. Others have families and/or friends they can turn to for some support during a closed period of time. However, the bigger problem occurs when someone younger, without savings, suffers a hit to their health. Or when individuals, of any age, suffer from chronic conditions. When these conditions first surface, it is not usually easy to determine whether there will be an easy fix (short-term problem) or whether it will be lifelong (chronic problem).

Life becomes harder with chronic conditions. And even harder, when you don’t have support or the resources to improve your current condition.

With a chronic condition, it becomes harder for individuals to maintain the level of work they once produced. Employers aren’t supposed to discriminate against individuals with disabilities but who’s going to hire someone with a high rate of absenteeism and a low rate of quality output?

Who will hire someone with an inconsistent schedule based on their fluctuating health condition(s)?

The truth is that full-time work isn’t compatible for individuals with chronic conditions. Full-time work requires eight-hour workdays, five days a week, totaling 40 hours per week. These days, the desire to make a good impression at work and demonstrate strong work ethic requires working over 40 hours per week.

When an individual suddenly gets a chronic illness, the system starts to crumble. The system begins to fail. Individuals struggle to make it to work which adversely affects their health. Eventually, individuals with chronic illnesses have to take time of work and seek treatment. While this appears seemingly easy, if you slowly lost the ability to use your arms and/or legs, to the point where you had to leave your job, would you know where to seek medical care? Would you know where to start? How would you pay for expensive tests and treatments?

It is possible you would need a loan unless you have some money in savings. However, savings can only keep you afloat for so long. Without a job, though, you won’t be able to qualify for a loan. Your debt will start to pile up and you cannot get on emergency credit programs for some relief because instead of earning low income, you now do not earn any income.

You’re now too poor to help.

The more time that passes, the more the bills will start to pile up. Credit card debts will charge late fees and any loans you may apply for will charge higher interest rates. It becomes harder and harder to keep up with medical bills, credit card bills, and repaying loans and/or school loans.

Unable to find financial assistance, it becomes apparent that corporations, like banks, help those who are low-risk individuals, people with full-time jobs and the ability to pay back the money they borrow.

This isn’t simply a problem that’s occurring amongst a handful of individuals. It is becoming an increasingly prominent generational problem. With the rise of autoimmune diseases and a lower age of onset, the system is crumbling for a large number of young adults. More and more people are entering a position where they require public assistance and cannot work in a competitive work environment. This not only crumbles the system for numerous individuals but also for society as a whole. When there aren’t enough people contributing to the nation’s economic growth, the nation as a whole will start crumbling.

With the rise of autoimmune diseases, no currently available cures, and the nation’s faulty infrastructure, what is going to happen to society in a decade? In a few decades? The system, as it is currently functioning, will eventually crumble since it is unsustainable.

The system we live in is a broken system. It doesn’t work or help people when they need it, making it harder for individuals to recuperate and possibly re-enter the workforce. The nation’s healthcare system and work-life have to be restructured in order to prevent a crash.

Perhaps solutions will be discovered before the system crumbles. A new approach to the way we work, take care of ourselves and our families, and the education we receive. They are all interdependent on each other but perhaps the solution lies in only one step of the pyramid. The answer is yet to be discovered.