I was out for lunch on a Sunday afternoon in Chinatown. The restaurant that my group went to was mostly full, but we were able to get a table in a back room. It wasn’t ideally placed since it was awkwardly positioned relative to another large table, but it was definitely better than having to wait. I sat near the large table with my back to it and at some point later on in the meal my lunch mates indicated for me to look behind me. Lo and behold there was an elderly Chinese woman sitting with her chair positioned so that I could not move back any further. This wouldn’t be a problem if that’s what the proximity of our tables required, but she was so far from her table that she couldn’t touch it if she wanted to. In fact I’m not sure if she could have touched the people who were sitting at the table! She had taken it upon herself to reserve as much space for her table as possible. Oh fantastic.
As we concluded and left our lunch, my group discussed this. What amazed us most was the fact that she would make herself so uncomfortable to do what she did. In the end, she was able to reserve some extra breathing room for her lunch mates even though she had put herself out of sorts. However, the extra breathing room is pretty useless if you already have plenty of breathing room! Ultimately I am losing, she is losing, and her tablemates are not really gaining anything of use.
In a small personal context this doesn’t make sense. Nor does it in a larger social sense. Getting cheap/free healthcare is going to cost all of the rest of the people more (whether reduced benefits or higher cost). For you to get more, others must get less. There is no magic fountain of money and benefits. Would you pursue more if ultimately getting more meant that everyone got nothing? What if everything collapsed because everyone was getting something for free? Was it worth it? Is your pension worth it if governments go bankrupt? Is it even worth anything at that point?
Take what you’re doing and think about the consequences. You might not like what you find.