Two Pi Day Thoughts

Today is Pi Day. Most of my readers will understand that. The “holiday” is basically a nerdy inside joke. It is a celebration of superior intelligence. We were taught two lessons over the past few years and I fear our leaders learned neither. I’d like to briefly discuss them today.

The first is exclusively American and it deals with a lesson the pandemic taught us with relation to our health care delivery system. Namely that it is inadequate.

We found the need to have the capacity and delivery system with which to vaccinate the bulk of the population in short order. It did not exist. Other than last minute emergencies (often when it is too late and certainly not via the most cost effective route), we only allow access to health care to a portion of our population. Our system discriminates based on employment and economic status but viruses don’t – they are equal opportunity infectors.

I currently have good health care access and have for most of my life. Yet, I received all three vaccinations other than via my health care provider system. I am far from alone. We found we had to “recruit” a lot of people to do the mass vaccination including loosening some rules on who could do what.

This issue is much more complicated than what I can cover in a few paragraphs but it illustrated the need for America to have a cradle to grave, single payer health care delivery system for all residents. Outside of a very, very few left wing circles I don’t even hear a conversation about this.

High (by American standards) gasoline prices are the parlor game topic de jour in America. The war in Ukraine has caused a spike that may well have yet not have reached its apex and it is anyone’s guess as to how long it will last. Unfortunately, we have seen this movie many times before. Occasionally it is met with some rhetoric about energy independence, (not much as of yet this go-round), but there has been no action and I’m not holding out much hope for this time.

Forget the negative impact of fossil fuels on the environment for the moment. I just want to talk dependency and good vs. bad global actors. The least costly extracted petroleum supply is largely controlled by Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Pick the “good guy” out of that quartet. One of the few relatively effective ways the West has found of somewhat keeping them in line is by sanctioning their oil. By that very act we lower our supply and simultaneously increase our costs. We cut off their revenue but not without a significant cost to ourselves.

I’m not among those who want to see petroleum entirely done away with. Well, maybe I’d like that but I realize it is not practical in any relatively near future I can envision. However, we certainly have it in our power and have the technology to significantly lessen our dependence on petroleum.

This crisis is far from the first involving oil. How many times will we refuse to learn?

My last point will be a “marriage” of the two situations. There is no doubt that America would be in a better position to endure the current gasoline crunch if it were less dependent on gasoline immediately. Actually, the pandemic taught us a lesson that is a partial solution. To date I have only heard one person even discuss it. (I forgot who it was or I would gladly cite them.)

What is that strategy/partial solution? It is simply to do more telecommuting. It doesn’t work for every job but we made it through the pandemic that way (in fact, some people are still working from home). The profit motive is a huge factor in our economy and I predict even after the all clear is legitimately sounded on the pandemic, (and that is certainly not now!), many companies will do at least partial telecommuting because it has proven to significantly lower costs while not decreasing revenue. Regardless of how you feel about it – and there are certainly both pros and cons – it reduces gasoline demand.

Happy Pi Day. Nerds of the world unite; humanity desperately needs you.

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