2 min read

Suffering, Inc.

Suffering, Inc.
Kohala Koheiji by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Ukyio-e style illustration of the Japanese legend of a ghost haunting people for revenge.

While I was up in Seattle the past few weeks, my uncle died. He lived in a multi-generational home with my aunt and his son, my cousin, and my cousin't big blended family.

his many kids on a family homestead southeast of Seattle, so I was able to spend some time with them all before he passed.

My uncle was a famous fuck up. He once crashed into a parked police car while on heroin. My aunt told me that she slept with her purse under her pillow for 30 years, because he would steal her money.

My uncle divided my family and caused serious strife, but he had an incredible passing.

As my aunt said, he brought us together as a family again. He buried the hatchet with many people, and went out surrounded by people who cared about him. He even apologized to me on his deathbed. The whole thing was amazing.

I’m on speaking terms with my cousin again, who’s been mad at me for more than a decade for reasons I don’t even know. Very glad for that.

My uncle been sick with a host of issues for a long time. Whenever I spoke with my aunt, she was always in and out of the hospital dealing with his many, many medical issues. He suffered tremendously for a long time, and I wonder if all the specialists actually increased his suffering by slapping a band-aid on one system without looking at the man as a collection of holistic systems.

This always mystified me… why did the medical establishment invest so much money on this person who wasn’t adding much to society? It just didn’t make sense to me.

But as I was visiting with my aunt, it all suddenly clicked. My uncle had half-decent insurance. He wasn’t a burden on the medical industry, he was an ideal customer.

Companies want repeat customers who visit frequently. Repeats are more valuable because you don’t have the costs associated with acquiring a new customer. And my uncle had an incredibly high lifetime value for them.

They poked and prodded him and put him through hellish procedure after hellish procedure. Then they billed his insurance.

Rest in Peace, Gary. You’ve earned it.