Is Simplicity Political?

Living aboard a boat has never been solely about sailing for me. In my hopes it has always persisted as an avenue for diving fully into a new and uncertain way of life and by doing so, perhaps encounter my own ideology. I turned to the sea to look for an answer to some of the unease I felt when I first began exploring my country as an adult.

“A person who is going to make a fruitful inquiry into the question of the best political arrangement must first set out clearly what the most choiceworthy life is. For if that is unclear, the best political arrangement must also be unclear.”-Aristotle

My exploration of Simple Living has gone deeper than reducing stuff, spending less, and living in a small space. It is more than just enjoying nature, or taking time to smell the roses. It is not my manner to run up the flag hailyard any political party, presidential candidate, or policy. But, with all the friction in today’s political and social discourse, I find that I must view it from a simplicity perspective.

Simple living is not separate from politics. In fact, an interest in simple living has often been central to political discussion. Ben Franklin, The Nearings, Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, and Jimmy Carter are all examples of people who have inspired me toward simplicity, but have also brought that same discussion to politics.

“If we are seriously looking for approaches that will actually change the lived experience of mainstream life in this country, we have to go well beyond personal economies….we have to change social policies.” –Jerome Segal

When exploring a new ideology, the personal experience is always at the nucleus. I began by purging myself of my excess things, and fitting the rest aboard a boat. From that starting point, I changed the way I engaged in many other aspects of life; the books I read, the food I ate, where I shopped, even how I vacationed. And all the while I was creating a set of ideals around my lifestyle aboard Daphne.

At some point, I began to look beyond myself at how these values harmonize with the collective values of American culture. For simplicity to be possible to me, it must also be possible for other Americans who desire that path. It isn’t easy to live simply in today’s culture. I wonder if Simplicity needs to be more on the minds of our political leaders in order for it to thrive as a viable and sustainable option for most Americans. I took the opportunity during my TED talk to briefly introduce Simplicity in the context of America’s current public sector because I often question its practicality today.

I’ve heard it said that it takes a community to raise a child and prepared him for adulthood. It would seem the same would apply for nurturing a way of life and making its success possible for those that desire it.

 

38 Responses to Is Simplicity Political?

  1. Paul December 11, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    We are in “phase1″, of our journey to achieve simple living. Sold the house, sold our stuff, which you’ve probably heard many times, from many people. We live on our boat in the summer, and our tiny apartment in the heart of the city in the winter months. Soon, we will shed even more, and float our way down the coast for the winter, and back up in the summer. Living simply, for us, means freedom. Freedom from the typical American lifestyle, which is a consuming lifestyle. We are looking forward to this new way of life. However, there are some things that can trip us up along the way.

    When you ask if simplicity is political, the first thing that comes to mind is health care. Our health care costs are partially covered by our employer. This makes it affordable. When we are working part time, finding jobs here and there to keep our lives afloat comfortable, we will have this huge health care cost weighing us down. Tough to be free, knowing you need to maintain this insurance. So is simplicity political? Absolutely.

    Imagine the freedom, knowing that wherever you traveled, you would have free or affordable health care. Imagine if only a fraction of the the trillions of dollars our government spends on weaponry, well above and beyond defense of this nation, could go to caring for the health of it’s people. In my opinion, socialized medicine in this country would radically change our lifestyles. For us, we would have left sooner. We would have raised our children on a boat, we would have been more mobile, not trapped in our jobs for the benefits. I could go on about the impact this could have, but living simply would have been easier with a safety net, knowing the kids would be covered for the inevitable ear infections, immunizations, etc. Knowing that if my finger got jammed in the winch, I could get treated. If the boom whacked me in the head I would not go bankrupt trying to pay for the cracked skull repair.

    For us, simplicity is political, and we petition our representatives (some would call it badgering) regularly on the health care issue.

    Very good post. It gets my brain working :)
    Paul

  2. Pen December 11, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    I hear you on the health insurance and how that can be a huge block and/or “dictator” of how one runs one’s life. I’m not saying this in reaction to you, because you said “free or reasonable,” but am instead just thinking out loud.

    I like good healthcare. I don’t expect it to be free. BUT, two main things bother me:

    1) Access to health care (or, health insurance) can be difficult and is often tied to an employer. So (as you mentioned), I might not be able to find health insurance (thence, affordable care) if I change employers, work part time, or try to start my own business. And if I do find it, it might be more expensive on my own.

    In the past, when I’ve questioned “why have it tied to my employer,” people have said “well, it’s a group, and groups help to even things out for the insuror.” Okay, but why THAT group. What about the group that is US citizens? Residents of a given state? etc.

    I have friends who hail from countries with more health-care assurance (UK, Canada, and others) and their whole outlook on life, traveling, trying things, changing things (business or otherwise) is completely different than mine. At first, they kind of laughed at me/were bewildered; after seeing how it all “works,” they are no longer doing that, and are simply thankful to have what they do.

    2) Profits going to the insurance companies, not to the doctor or the people who are developing/testing medicines and treatments.

    As I said above, I don’t MIND paying for health care. Tax me, sell me some sort of “vouchers” or whatever needs to be done, but let’s not have insurance companies playing games and raking in the profits. Where I used to work we would have to change companies almost annually. Apparently what happens is the insurance company starts the employer off with a more reasonable rate, and then jacks it up the second year, figuring you will move on and they can avoid future claims (<—- or something like that; I don't totally understand it, but it sure makes life difficult when you have to change plans constantly. Of course that's when you are lucky enough to HAVE one.)

    *****

    Just to add insult to injury, when I was looking for an individual policy a few years ago, I found that if I read the fine print, almost all of the companies forbade leaving the country (US) for more than two weeks. That makes it a bit hard to travel. I was able to take out an expat type policy, but that demanded that I be out of the country at least 6 months per year, so that's not useful for everyone (also, I have no idea how well it worked; I never had to make use of it).

    I know that every method of setting up a health care system has its minusses, and I know the US has great health care (if you can afford it), which (probably?) requires some profit incentive somewhere. But I have to wonder when our health care is so good that wealthy people from other countries come here to avail themselves of it, and yet a huge percentage of our own people aren't insured (can't get insurance?) and can't afford it.

    So yeah, does seem political ;D

  3. Katt December 12, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Having lived aboard my entire adult life, I’ve taken the philosophy of simply living to heart early on in my life as a departure from the mainstream material driven suburban life I grew up in. Core in my beliefs is a desire to live debt free, within my means. Working online for myself along with a PT job I fit into the ‘low income’ bracket, yet I still manage to put aside savings, take extended trips abroad and have far more free time to pursue my interests then most. I don’t hire out boat work but have learned to DIY. This has garnered me mechanical skills not often seen in a female. This lifestyle impacts a lot of my choices, from my fashion sense haha to the partner I pick. As I get older, health insurance is more of a worry as I don’t have it but all of these are sacrifices I’ve been willing to make for my freedom, however this is not something I see as the norm.

    You make a great point here:

    “At some point, I began to look beyond myself at how these values harmonize with the collective values of American culture. For simplicity to be possible to me, it must also be possible for other Americans who desire that path. It isn’t easy to live simply in today’s culture. I wonder if Simplicity needs to be more on the minds of our political leaders in order for it to thrive as a viable and sustainable option for most Americans.”

    It is difficult to live simply in today’s world. I love the water and sailing, and find this lifestyle suitable to me but if it wasn’t I don’t know how easily it’d be to find a lifestyle in which to live so simply. I don’t find that the majority of Americans embracing the values of simple living. Most often I see people striving for bigger houses, bigger cars, latest gadgets, etc…

    I worry that living aboard may at some point be outlawed and can’t help but notice how live aboards are looked down upon in some communities and is against the law in some places. There is a contrast clash between those who come down to their pristine washed and waxed yacht for the occasional sail vs. those living full time year round on their boat surviving on a modest budget. Or being pushed out of an anchorage somewhere because it disturbs the view of a megamillion dollar mansion. You don’t have to be a genius to know that those with money get a greater voice in American politics. As the economy weakens and as the gap widens between rich and poor more Americans will need to downsize, I only hope this will bring about a greater desire to embrace simple living.

  4. Katt December 12, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    I should also add that not only is simple living an economically advantageous choice for me but one also one closely linked to my environmental/political philosophy of treading lightly on the planet. The two go hand in hand.

  5. Peter December 12, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    I think politics plays a role in every decision and lifestyle choice we make unfortunately, even when it comes to choosing a life of cruising and sailing the world and giving up a lot to make that happen.

    But I think it’s very hard and ineffective to count on our so-called political leaders to encourage simple living and change the consumption culture of a country. I think the best way to change a culture is for private citizens like you to set an example and show people what a great life you can have by living simply. The best thing political leaders can do is NOT mess that up by passing stupid laws that hurt your ability to live that way (i.e. banning liveaboards or jacking up and distorting health insurance rates).

    Personally a huge draw for me with sailing and cruising has been the fact that you are so self sufficient in many ways. Where else can I generate my own power (even water in some cases) and travel the world with nothing but the wind to propel me forward? For me the appeal comes less from living simply than from living a more independent and free life. The last thing I want is my politicians coming in and finding a way to mess that up :)

    • Teresa December 12, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Unfortunately, I cannot be a model for how great simple living is. I live without a lot of necessities that others couldn’t do without. I don’t have health insurance, a reliable job, a house, I don’t own a car (but I do share one right now), community, even a shower. Even living without a car is difficult or impossible in many places in the US. I don’t think it is necessary for political leaders to encourage simple living, just make it a viable option. People will choose it if it interests them or when they don’t have any other choice. I don’t have a problem co-existing with people who do not like simple living. Each person should have a right to choose their own lifestyle. However, I do think its important and possible for our political leaders to encourage policy that makes simplicity a realistic option. In the past, the structures that our government created have encouraged our current way of life, our degree of consumption has been made possible, etc. So, it could be expected that the opposite could happen. However, you are right in that they do find a way to mess things up! I wouldn’t want them to pass laws like some of the ones you suggested. A few years ago I was offered a job in Savannah and nearly accepted until I learned that it is illegal to live on a boat in Georgia. Since when can the government determine what is a suitable dwelling?! Crazy.

      • Peter December 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

        Agree about lawmakers making simplicity an option, there are definitely a lot of laws and societal norms that prevent that from being as easy it should be.

        I live in Savannah at the moment, and I can tell you they did recently change that law, but even before that, it was almost impossible to enforce. I definitely know a few people here and there that stretched the terms of that live aboard law. That being said, who wants to live in a state that makes you feel like a criminal all the time, even if no one’s getting in trouble? Thanks again for the post

      • Don December 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

        I’m a lot older than most of your respondents (grew up in the magical 1950′s). The majority of Americans lived a much simpler lifestyle and almost all accepted it as totally normal. A home was 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1 car, maybe a black & white TV, 1 phone, and ONE car. All this was supported by ONE wage earner normally! As a kid, all my friends and their families felt well cared for, not deprived of anything necessary. Today, anyone satisfied with that lifestyle is considered underprivileged.
        At least at my age, I am able to look forward to medicare, and can expect to have the kind of medical security that you can only dream of. My wife has always said that the “system” in america has it all backwards: we should have 5 years of “retirement living” after we finish school, and then work until we die. At least that way you can enjoy yourself while your health is fine, not when you are so worn-out you have to live in some Assisted Living facility waiting to die.

        • Teresa December 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

          ” all my friends and their families felt well cared for, not deprived of anything necessary. ”

          Sounds wonderful!

          • Jim Moorebaum December 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

            Hi All,
            Must say I love your video Teresa when you and Ben were sailing tandem- all the best on your single ship relationship!
            I am an old hippy of 71 and I guess what I would like to post is , as Thoreau? said , to thine own self be true
            and even better what Christ said
            ‘ dont worry about what you are going to wear or eat- the Father knows what you need
            and dont worry is another commandment
            they have all helped me and its all summed up in Psalm 23
            shalom and God Bless
            Jim

    • Chris Troutner December 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      Peter & Teresa,

      Have lines ever been drawn between simple living and self sufficient living? I tend to think they are the same thing. More to the point, I think that the level to which you can be self sufficient is a measure of how simple your life is (to you, personally).

      News stories abound in all states of how our (the US) government enacts laws which discourage self-sufficiency. While our governement encourages sustainable (eco-friendly) living, I think its easy to argue that they do not support self-sufficient living, and thus, it does not support simple living.

      • Peter December 12, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

        Chris,

        Agreed re: difficulty associated with self sufficient living. We might be playing with semantics here between simplistic vs. self sufficient living. I guess I feel simplicity is one of those things that’s a little more subjective with each person, whereas self sufficiency can encompass a lot of different degrees of complexity. With boats for example: do you have a complicated diesel engine and multiple electronics like radar that you maintain, or do you go the Pardey route and stick to kerosene lamps and no engine at all? I think you could argue effectively that there are a lot of boats that are simple compared to the norms of society, but how self sufficient you are with the systems you have on board is a little different. Good stuff man.

        • Chris Troutner December 14, 2011 at 10:18 am #

          I think that’s an excellent point.

          I haven’t heard of anyone trying to make clear distinctions between ‘self sufficiency’ and ‘simple living’. Also, I know that many simple living advocates are split on topic of technology (such as in the conversation below between Warren and Teresa).

          For my part, I embrace both technology and self-sufficiency. In fact, my personal style of simple living includes the restoration a Cruise-a-Home, including environmentally powered drive systems. However, it requires a lot of technology. I can fix everything on board, so I still consider it a means to voluntary simplicity as well as self-sufficiency.

  6. Mike December 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    As folks subscribing to the “Small House Movement” have found, many laws and bylaws interfere with living the simple life. While you can live aboard a boat with very litlle “liveable” space, most places will not permit you to build and live in a 100 sq.ft. home no matter how well designed. Big house = big municipal tax bills, small house = small bill, the calculus of living small and simple is a threat to the current economic models of the western world. Bucking the trend can be frustrating but thanks to brave folks like yourself, there are alternative lifestyle models out there that we can look to emulate should we so choose.

    Heard you sold “Daphne”. How do you feel now that you’ve taken that big plunge?

    • Teresa December 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      Wow, Mike, I haven’t heard that. I love the tiny houses and decided that when I live on land I want to live in a tiny house…with a big garden!

      I did sell Daphne and I do miss sailing her. I really think she was the perfect boat for me to solo sail and I will miss solo sailing. Sailing with someone else isn’t the same. Doesn’t even compare really. But in order for Ben and I to have the financial means to travel to further ports, and in order for me to really have the opportunity to write a book, we needed to reduce expenses. We are now down to one boat, one cell phone, one tool bag, one engine to maintain, one tank to fuel up, one, one, one…you get the idea. I’m sad about selling my boat but it really is time for new opportunities for me, so I have to keep looking toward the future.

      Teresa

    • Daniel December 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      I’ve been following a lot of the tiny house stuff for about 4 years now thinking it would be a fun project to build one. I like the idea of simple living and not going beyond ones means. More and more, I see myself looking at sailboats as a good alternative since being out on the water is a good way to stay off-grid with power and stay self reliant and still be able to travel around to some unique locations. I think I like the boats more and looking forward to getting my first boat.

  7. Paul December 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I haven’t followed your blog for a while now, since you arrived back on terra firma. It was nice to see your email update. It led me to your appearance on Ted and I watched it on Utube.

    I thought it was a good talk and it showed you to be contemplative in nature with a depth of consideration and reasoning we could only wish to have on Capitol Hill someday.

    What a world this could be if all children were taught first to build the inner qualities, as I believe you refer to them, and let the other outward attributes fall where they may. Personally, I look hard to find the inner qualities of a person and if I find any of value then their outward qualities are translucent and unimportant. If there are no inner qualities, then the brightest of the outward attributes will not endear them to me.

    Wishing you fair sailing and good journeys,
    Paul

  8. Wes Clemschildt December 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Peter & Teresa,
    You get the chance to follow your dreams no matter your economic background. It’s strange that some people feel the need to comment negatively about someone’s dream! I believe people’s jealousy can surface in unintended ways, what most feel is amazement that anyone can fulfill their dream!
    I thank you for the message that your putting out there about simplicity.
    My wife and I are finishing our boat and will sail from SF to follow your example in 1-2 years.
    Good luck in everything you do!

  9. Warren Palmer December 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Following your voyages on your website has been interesting and entertaining. Inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing, I lived the “simple life” for a decade prior to attending graduate school and becoming an economics professor. Someday with children grown and launched into the world, life will become “simpler” once again, but even the Amish cannot escape the complexity of the modern economy and neither will I, even as I tend my garden, go bicycle tripping or sail my small boat. Almost every object and service we use is the result directly and indirectly of a complex and complicated social process of production involving workers and organizations all over the globe. The rich complexity of modern economies affords some of us the choice of simpler living, or is it the illusion of simplicity? How do you reconcile the pursuit of simplicity and writing about it via this extraordinarily complicated and enriching world of networks, and computers?

    • Teresa December 13, 2011 at 1:08 am #

      You are absolutely right in that we cannot escape the complexity of the modern economy. But I never believed that simple living means “easy” or “not complicated.”

      Even Helen and Scott Nearing lived a complicated life, full of challenges. I lived on a farm for several years and it isn’t easy!

      But is this really about my computer? If I didn’t have a computer, would you ask how I reconcile having a propane stove, or bicycle, or watch?

      To answer your question, I have a computer because I like to write, learn filmmaking, and stay connected to my Grammy and niece. These things enrich my life. I do not have running water, a TV, or central heating. At this point, they are not necessary to enrich my life. Although, someday I might change my mind.

      Its only about choices. Simplicity is unique and personal. It is as varied as the people who explore it.

      Thank you for your comment. It is interesting the complex networks our world is made up of. Did you perhaps also become an Economics Professor as a result of Scott Nearing’s writing? He was certainly an inspiration and great thinker.

      Teresa

      • Warren Palmer December 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

        No, it is not really about your computer, anymore than it is about a ball point pen, which in fact is a remarkable piece of engineering and manufacturing that requires a complex division of labor for its production. Because of technological innovations and economies of scale, ball point pens are very inexpensive. I often devote a class period in introductory economics to the economic history of pens. I quite appreciate your conscious creation of an ongoing conversation about simplicity. The topic is fraught with contradictions, but I think embracing the contradictions enriches the conversation. I am sure you wrestle with these all the time in your conscious choices. One of those contradictions is that low cost products resulting from the modern industrial economy can make possible the pursuit of simplicity by those who desire it, yet a large scale retreat from the modern economy toward a pastoral, simple, de-industrialized existence is likely neither possible nor desirable.

        • Teresa December 16, 2011 at 9:40 am #

          Yes! Totally full of contradictions, but I do see a general theme centered around values based decisions as opposed to doing things for monetary gain or status. However, you could be rich or poor or anywhere in-between and still choose simplicity in some or most areas of your life.

          I think was you are talking about is a little bit like the comment I made above in response to Peter.

  10. et December 13, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Here’s a community you might find helpful:
    http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/

    Lots of info on simple/cheap living, for example this discussion on healthcare:
    http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/topic.php?id=369#post-4343

  11. Luke December 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    I am planing to make a short film on surviving the canadian winter off the grid on a sailboat.. eating what i catch or hunt…growing my own food and becoming completely self sustained.

    I am currently getting ready to install a small wood stove in my boat..It will provide #1 heat…much needed here in our Canadian winter..#2.i can cook on it and it has a oven.Check out the halibut marine wood stove by Washinton stove works.#3 hot water…heat coil on the back with 30 gallon tank.#4 temp glass door for light .

    With solar and wind power i will to have more than enough power to run all my electronic needs.
    I live in one of the most abundant marine rich seafood areas of the world…with deer ,moose ,elk…everywhere and good growing season for fruit and veg….with a smoker and canner you can set yourself up for many months
    Thousands of islands offer the most beautiful protected Rent Free moorings or anchorages up and down the coast.
    If i need to travel i just pull anchor and set sail!

    • Chris Troutner December 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      Sweet! Keep in touch with me. I’d love to do a feature of your off grid electrical system on my blog, as well as stay tuned to your adventures over all!

  12. Rich December 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    I believe you have inspired more people and done more to promote simplicity by living and writing about it than government directives ever will. People have to want the life and they will seek it out. If it is imposed through government or society it will not last. -- just my humble opinion.

    • Teresa December 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      Thank you very much for your kind words. I hope the government never imposes a certain way of life. I just hope and believe they can help make it a viable option for those who choose it.

  13. danville December 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Miss T,
    being an old fart, its really hard for me to embrace most of your “political” ideas on simple living, for example “free” health care… its not free, someone has to pay taxes, earnings, or insurance premiums to pay for treatment… if people want the freedom of “free health care” someone else will have to pay for it… or maybe we could just take better care of ourselves(stop smoking, lose weight, excercize) funny… those are all parts of simple living… i guess what i am trying to say is with freedom comes some risk, accept the risk as part of the price & don’t expect someone else to pay it for you… i admire how you live but most of all i admire the complete honesty in your blog…
    kindest regards,
    danville

    • Sailing Simplicity December 20, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Danville,

      Thank you for your comment!

      I don’t recall every writing anything on my personal stance on healthcare. In fact, I actually haven’t even made a decision about it. I do, however, often question our current system because I think it has a lot of flaws. There are a few different ideas out there about government regulated healthcare, and right now I’m just trying to understand exactly how they would work. Privatized healthcare, public healthcare, regulated, who knows……

      One thing is for sure, if they come up with a system that makes it a safer place for Americans, and one which eases the debilitating burden of worry even just a bit for my neighbors, then I think it would be a good investment. I would gladly pay into the pot for that one, and I’m sure I would also benefit from it at the same time. Even if I never used healthcare, I would still feel the benefit from it. I feel the same way about schools and education. But right now it seems like there is so much fighting among our policy-makers that we’ll never have a smooth system. Its a hot topic!

      And just the fact that we are having this conversation makes simplicity political! 25 comments already! One of the more discussed posts on this blog. And its good too because I’m learning a lot from my readers.

      Teresa

      P.S. You said “most of your political ideas on simple living”…what are my other ones? I hope they are good!

  14. ray.s December 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    you had me right up to the point where you listed jimmy carter ,you are probally to young to really remember his terrible presidency ,he is a nice man but was a terrible president .
    the economy was a wreck ,the whole country was in the dumps and he left those americans in the hands of the iranians for all that time .
    i like his work with habitat for humanity but he was not a good president .
    remember odd and even gas days ?
    p.s you guys and angels travels are responsible for me going out and buying a 23 ft sailboat a dream i had packed away for 30 years

    • Teresa December 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Jimmy Carter eh?!! Well, I also listed Thomas Jefferson, who was a racist. He fought for the freedom of slaves, but also thought they were lesser than whites and not worthy of co-existing on an equal level. I find him a fascinating man, and I agree with a lot of his ideals, but most definitely not his racist ones. Then again…not a single person is perfect. There will be something about every leader that I will disagree with.

  15. Amy December 23, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Hi Teresa,
    Simplicity has been a theme in my own life for a long time and one that is challenging because it seems as though our culture itself does not support this. I also believe that politics is merely a reflection of the current consciousness. Let’s face it, if every one adopted simple living,
    our economy, which is based on consumption not services, would crash in an even bigger way. Only until an individual goes through a process and finds that the accumulation of material goods does not satisfy an inner longing will they search for what feeds their soul.
    As more and more people go through this process, gradually our politics will change as well.
    I also have a relatively simple boat and as my husband and I are in the process of returning to the cruising life, we wrestle with the decisions on what to include and not to include on our boat, it is all a matter of personal needs and wants. I have 2 daughters in college that I want to keep in contact with as much as possible, so how far do we go with the array of communications available? Not an easy answer of decision! All the best and keep up the positive message!
    Amy

  16. Brian January 2, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Personally, I feel the government needs to be less involved in our lives. This even goes with the whole healthcare debate, social security, etc. The problem is the more that government gets involved, the more things get screwed up. Healthcare is expensive because we are separated from the costs. Insurance companies try and game the system, doctors then bill for services they don’t provide or treatments that aren’t necessary, the governments try and regulate costs of drugs, drug manufacturers increase costs, so and so forth. The whole thing is out of whack. If people had to pay out of pocket for a doctor visit, doctors would only bill for what they provide, they would only test what needs to be tessed for, and competition would decrease costs. I’d love to go back to the day when doctors made house calls. How about going to a doctor when you have a cold? $20 visit, $20 anti-biotic and you’re done. Last time I went to the doctor for a cold, I saw they charged by insurance company $800 for tests and treatment!

    Government and politics just needs to stay out of our personal lives in every aspect. I can’t think of one thing the government has done better than we the people can.

    • Teresa January 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      Brian, You hit the nail on the head for a lot of things. It may be because of government regulations that make simplicity so difficult for many people. Unfortunately, the truth remains that the government seems to be more powerful in our lives then in the past. Maybe its just because I’m getting older and paying more attention! But, they are involved, so all I can hope for is that they get it right!

      Teresa

  17. joey April 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Just a story about the government -- a certain agency needed receptacles and data jacks in their oversight trailer . They ended up asking me (the person, company, they are regulating) to do it “because”, they simply said, “we are too bureaucratic”. I wonder if I would get in trouble for specifying the agency.

  18. Jeff May 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    The system is not designed for simple living because there is no money in it for those who run things. Governments of all nations are not at the top of the power pyramid. When things don’t seem to make sense, remember the phrase “follow the money.” You will almost always find your understanding of a situation will become clearer when you ask who stands to make money off of whatever is happening. Power and money are more or less the same thing and our best hope is that the recent, and ongoing, collapse of the current system will require people to live more simply while depriving the funds to force the people back into line.

    I know this sounds simplistic & pessimistic, but if you will learn to trade “who makes money off of this” for “why would they do that” you will, like it or not, realize that so many things that you couldn’t make sense of before fall right into focus. The beauty of living simply, especially living aboard, is that you can often maintain your freedom by staying below the radar.

  19. Jeff May 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    The system is not designed for simple living because there is no money in it for those who run things. Governments of all nations are not at the top of the power pyramid. When things don’t seem to make sense, remember the phrase “follow the money.” You will almost always find your understanding of a situation will become clearer when you ask who stands to make money off of whatever is happening. Power and money are more or less the same thing and our best hope is that the recent, and ongoing, collapse of the current system will require people to live more simply while depriving those in power the funds to force the people back into line.

    I know this sounds simplistic & pessimistic, but if you will learn to trade “who makes money off of this” for “why would they do that” you will, like it or not, realize that so many things that you couldn’t make sense of before fall right into focus. The beauty of living simply, especially living aboard, is that you can often maintain your freedom by staying below the radar.

  20. glenn packer October 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Simplicity does not require dramatic action.
    Simply stop consuming as much as you can.
    You will find it really requires very little money to get by.
    Now this level will vary depending on “needs” but its all relative.
    I used to require a lot of spending to keep me going.
    Mostly because high stress/paying job allow it and you feel you “deserve it”
    Consumption sends you down the slippery slope.

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