Nota Bene to Millennials (and the Rest of Us): Focus on Self-Sufficiency

ALPERN AT LARGE--We just had one of the most important elections that no one paid much attention to, and which moved the LAUSD towards reform...and moved Angeleno parents and their children towards self-sufficiency. So here's a Nota Bene for you Millennials and post-Millennials (and even pre-Millennials!):  learn to take care of yourselves!

  • To start ... what does Nota Bene mean?  It's Latin for "take note" or "take good note" or "take heed".  And why does so much in law, medicine, economics, etc. have to be in Latin, a dead language if ever there was one?  

Because the Roman Republic/Empire was and is directly or indirectly the example of how good government and the willingness to take in and accommodate foreign ideas allowed far-flung regions to enjoy civilized Western life (yes, there was slavery, butchery, and the like, but this civilization extended and inspired Western thought to our present day).  

So knowledge of the old still matters, which leads us to our present day, with a young generation of stressed-out kids facing increased drug addiction, suicide, and overall stress levels not seen in "the new Rome", unique in that it was founded on the example of the Roman Republic, and not the Empire that followed it: the good ol' U.S. of A.

  • Yes, you DO have the right to be angry and stressed out.  The controversies surrounding the "Thirteen Reasons Why" about a young and promising adult, Hannah Baker, are both sobering and timely.  As this VERY important article details, our educational and governmental bureaucracies are psychologically and financially destroying our youth.

And the rest of us aren't doing too much better:  about a third of us don't have $500 set aside for even a car/house/health emergency expense. 

So let's cut the lying and nonsense:  too many of us are hanging on by our fingernails, and we're getting tired.  We're not lazy, but it's awful hard to be optimistic at times.  Even the bountiful optimism of youth has its limits...and this is all worse in the Golden State of CA.

  • How to cope?  First, if the rules of the game are set against you, then don't play that game.  Bail.  Hit the road.  Go to a location that's affordable and offers you an economic future for you, and a better quality of life.

Second, be independent:  I fought like hell--for no pay, and with lots of scorn and opposition--for over ten years for an Expo Line that offered a light rail opportunity for students, seniors, and others to avoid our messed-up driving world.  But what a surprise (!) that Uber and Lyft would come along with the result of higher rail boardings, and decreased bus boardings.  Certainly, Metro has every obligation to make a better bus system that draws more riders but this confirms my suspicions that light rail and rapid bus lines enhance mobility and independence.  

And there will ALWAYS be a need for cars, just as there will ALWAYS be a need for buses, in the big city.

  • Stop being tooled about "global warming" to the extent that it ruins your life.  Is there global warming, with a man-made component?  Of course!  But do NOT let profiteers make money off of guilting you into living inefficient, unhappy lives.

Population control and economic enhancement of the Developed and Third World are much more tied to women's rights and reducing income inequality than it is to an endless stream of regulations that are more tied to controlling your thoughts, actions, and words instead of fixing the environmental challenges of a human-populated world.

Similarly, look at how much money and control our state and local governments had over our lives because of the drought.  Now that the drought is over, are they letting up and lowering utility prices?  Or are our governments finding new ways to control and tax us out of our hard-earned dollars...and for what?

Are there more universities to accommodate the brilliant high-schoolers who don't have a 5.0 GPA and walk on water?  How about trade-schools for the high-schoolers who are brilliant with their hands and minds and don't need to learn about philosophy and art history to make an excellent living and serve our most vital needs?

This state budget/pension thing isn't something to be ignored.  Puerto Rico just declared bankruptcy, and while California is nothing like Puerto Rico or Greece, it sure as heck isn't self-sufficient!

  • So fight, and move, and do what you must to both enhance our world and give yourself a future!  But while Bernie Sanders did a great job of declaring the problems, did he derive the right answers?  Is socialism doing well in Venezuela, Cuba, and other failed political/economic experiments?

Even Canada and Britain now have private health insurance options for those willing to pay more to get better service. So while the Republican "fix" for the "Affordable Care Act" (ACA) has its problems, that same Democratic-only "affordable" health care measure is going bankrupt right before our eyes!

You want some insurance?  Then GET some!  Get an extra job!  Did the ACA ever have the requirement for able-bodied adults to work 8-12 hours a week to be eligible for health insurance, even if that work was government-mandated or provided?  Wouldn't THAT have allowed states and the federal government to afford the ACA?

(And I'm a dermatologist working three jobs for years in order to meet my family's needs, so I've earned the right to tell you a thing or two about working harder to get more.)

So be tough, and be demanding ... but be civil.  I'll take the example of civic debate made by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez any day over Pete Aguilar.  Those in other political parties are suffering just as much, and are just as angry, as you are.

We've all got a city, state, county, and/or nation to save...but we've all got our own lives to save, too!  Whether it's moving or working harder, be self-sufficient!

Because there's no greater pleasure in life than being able to point to something you did, or something you created, and say, "Hey, look at what I was able to achieve.  And I didn't let ANYONE stop me from doing that."


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)