A Tale of Adventure: Buying New Hearing Aids in the US

Yesterday, I purchased the new hearing aids I ordered 2 weeks ago. My first pair, 10 years old, were top-of-the-line ReSound (4200/pair). As I have a mid-range (called “cookie bite”) loss, it is particularly difficult for me to understand speech; most speech is in the mid-frequency range. In terms of understanding speech, the original aids were a disappointment. As well, the left one never fit quite right. Bottom line, I didn’t wear them as often as others thought I should have. They got tired of me saying “what”? The new ones at $2600/pair, are Phonak, "entry level"made in Switzerland. So far, they seem to be a great improvement.

Now, the story gets interesting because I arranged in advance to pay for these in cash. Interesting, isn’t it that one must ask permission to do so. Legal tender laws notwithstanding, many enterprises refuse to accept cash, or are required send in forms to tell the apparat they received cash from you. This office did insist I provide exact change. Not a problem.

Now, I must digress. Back in 2008, a trusted friend who understands the financial world far better than I, suggested I get some cash to keep on hand, lest there be bank closures. As I had previously arranged safe storage outside the banking system (they can deny access to safety deposit boxes and/or inventory them by fiat as well), I did so. So, I had this cash on hand for 14 years. Naturally, its buying power diminished. I was prepared to accept this at price inflation rates back then. No longer. Having sufficient savings protected by gold (safely in a vault in CH) as a substantial portion of the portfolio of a private equity holding company I trust and have been with for 25 years, I had thought it OK to accept some loss from inflation. Current inflation rates, though, have caused me to spend down a considerable part of this cash recently. As a practical alternative, I also have access to a bag of “junk silver” (pre- 1965 90% silver coins), which serves as a means of small purchases should the SHTF. So, to pick up my new hearing aids I had to drive about 10 miles to the audiologist’s office in an adjacent town.

Enter “civil asset forfeiture”. In the US, the “land of the free”, with “consent of the governed”, where Superman used to fight for “truth, justice and the American way”, you see, the police can legally steal any cash they may find you carrying! The highway patrol now do double-duty and act as the highwaymen of old! If, say, on some false pretext, I were stopped and searched, my friendly local police officer can simply assume that the cash was illegally obtained and legally seize it for benefit of… the police department!! I need never be even charged with any crime whatsoever. Much has been written on this abomination and there are many horror stories along the lines of cash wedding gifts of $10K being stolen by police and it costing more than that in legal fees (and several years) to attempt to retrieve one’s own legal cash. Small cash business owners on the way to the bank to deposit the day’s proceeds, have been especially victimized.

With this knowledge in mind and fear in my heart, I set out to drive to the ENT office housing my audiologist. I drove the speed limit. I stopped completely at every stop sign. I was prepared to record any conversation (surreptitiously, as this while likely legal, is a ‘trigger’ to authorities) with any police.

In short, here is one mundane example of the nature of neo-fearful life in the formerly civil, formerly-united states. Since I am retired, I needn’t fear losing my job, my license or my home by virtue of some verbal transgression (pun intended) (a teacher was just fired because she addressed her class - in an all-girls school - by saying “good morning, girls”!). It was not inclusive to say that, you see, and the class decided - in a cost-free signal of ‘equity & inclusion’ - they were ‘offended’.

In sum, as I am aware of the reigning complete absence of (or equality under the) law. In its place, we have the raw exercise of power, barely requiring even a pretext any longer for authorities to act as they please. I was, thus, afraid. The road to the audiologist is a well-known series of speed traps. Police sit in hidden cars where they can observe stop signs and give tickets for not coming completely to a stop. The fines are confiscatory. The threshold for an illegal search - which may mystically become legal later in a corrupt courtroom. BTW, civil asset forfeiture is so well-established that there are formal agreements among police and other “law enforcement” agencies for “profit sharing” of seized cash and proceeds from sales of seized property as well, like vehicles, guns, homes, boats.

This is, then, a tidbit of welcome to mundane life in modern America. Also, BTW, since “equity” (definition: radical leftists’ idea du jour, of what is “fair”), not equality, reigns here, it might be safer for caucasians to not appear in public while white; they are subject to both official sanctions as legal theft of cash. Unofficially, of course, whites are in season all year round. They may be beaten to the ground and stomped (an unconscious head, you see, is an irresistible sporting target for well-placed kicks in what the media calls “the knockout game”). The results of these not rarely lethal “games” are usually unreported by the MSM - if its occurrence is even noted at all. If so, the perpetrators are inevitably referred to as “gangs of youths”). My level of apprehension was somewhat reduced by the fact that my adventure did not require any walking in the city. I was thus only exposed to legal theft by authorities, as opposed to illegal assault by the “Biden Youth”.

It is thus apparent that in today’s US, the former repository of productivity and civic virtue and source of tax revenue - the caucasian male, unless granted an exemption by virtue of “identifying” as an oppressed subsegment of the demographic, has been functionally transitioned from a milker to a steer (definition: neutered bull) - who may be merely milked as heretofore, or whose flesh may now be taken officially by the state or unofficially - under color of “equity” - by the state’s newest accomplices, “gangs of youths”. Their brown shirts are on backorder from China.


Or you could repurpose consumer electronics?


Yes, I considered this but decided to go with the much less-expensive (than top end hearing aids) entry level. Much of the extra expense is for more sophisticated processing goes to filter out unwanted background sounds in noisy places - like restaurants. Since I don’t need that, I figured the less expensive Phonaks would work. And they do so, admirably.

I seriously considered various alternatives as you suggest, since my first costly experience was unsatisfying. I went to the initial visit, all but sure I would not buy - until I tried them. As a prudent buyer of anything, I learned that the hearing aid business does include a good bit of valuable service in addition to the devices. For instance, there are sophisticated devices to measure the effects of one’s individual external ear anatomy on sound quality - both incoming and amplified. They actually insert a very thin tube into the ear canal beyond the speaker (called a “receiver” for some reason) to sample sounds. Factors like the degree of occlusion of the ear canal (and other factors) by the aid are critical to improving understanding of speech. There are numerous subtleties.

The audiologist programs the aids to specifically amplify various frequency ranges. Cheaper ones, like mine, have 8 frequency registers (like a graphic equalizer). They go as high as 24 registers. As well, I have a 3 year warranty against malfunction, damage, loss and all consumable accessories. Again, as a very careful and skeptical shopper, I have come away with the sense I have gotten my money’s worth. I can also return them up to 30 days after purchase with a 10% restocking fee. This seems reasonable, as I consumed over two hours of audiologist time for no charge. The aids connect to my iPhone via Bluetooth, so I can make and receive calls through them. I can control their function with an app, as well.

I also tried to find larger devices, in an attempt to avoid the high cost of miniaturization. I’m old enough to remember pocket hearing aids, where a device somewhat smaller than a pack of cigarettes was worn on a shirt pocket with a wired pair of ear-insertable earphones. If one is not vain, this seems to me a cost-attractive alternative - i.e. avoid the costly, extreme miniaturization.

Surprisingly, nobody makes this. I asked several audiologists if there were any large size devices with sophisticated sound processing for people like me who don’t care if it shows. Nope. Don’t exist. If I were entrepreneurial and electronically technical, though, I would surely try to make a line of large, wearable/visible devices at a much more affordable price point. I think there’s a niche there.


Sounds promising, anything for Android?


I am all but certain Phonaks are compatible with both. Made in Switzerland (which, as usual for Americans, the audiologist called Sweden).


My Senior Electrical Engineering design project was to design and build a hearing aid that had the ability to adjust the amplification of different frequencies. I still recall looking at the bread board and being amazed that what I was looking at was a hearing aid. We used a 5 volt power supply so the cost savings from not having to miniaturize the thing would have been offset by the inconvenience of needing to use an extension cord or a long USB cable. :slight_smile:


Asset confiscation, spying on US citizens, secret courts, banking regulations, imprisonment without trial, entrapment and the general disregard for the bill of rights… the cure is much much worse than any disease.

The boogey man is going to get you and there are a lot of boogey men. Drug dealers, terrorists, domestic terrorists, Branch Davidians, Russians, global warming and germs and bugs are just a few of the more prominent.

Edit: I forgot about those pesky insurrectionists. You know the people that participated in the insurrection. The world’s first insurrection where the insurrectionists just left without a fight. They penetrated the defense force, drove the ruling government into hiding. All without any firearms and then just walked away.


It might be wise to check with a Russian about the “safety” of gold in Switzerland. The world has moved on!

My simple-minded view is that, unless we have physical possession of that gold, we are still relying on the kindness (and trustworthiness) of strangers. What we actually possess is a piece of paper saying there is a piece of gold somewhere with our name on it – not too dissimilar from the despised piece of paper called “fiat”.


The difference is that with the piece of paper saying gold is held in your name, if the custodian is in a safe jurisdiction, outside the regulated banking system, and regularly audited by a long-established independent third party who has a great deal to lose if they are found to be untrustworthy, you have a high probability that the gold is actually there and that the custodian has on hand all of the physical gold, unhypothecated, to deliver on all extant claims. If the gold is stored outside any country where you have citizenship, residency, or other means of coercion, you have the option to escape when things become untenable where you are.

With fiat money, on the other hand, you are guaranteed that you have a piece of paper which represents a claim for nothing, backed by nobody, denominated in a unit which means nothing and which can be created in unlimited numbers by unelected commissars who have, since 1913, overseen the loss 97% of its value, and were so afraid of citizens’ having any alternative that in 1933 they confiscated all gold in their possession in order to put it in their own treasury, then banned the ownership of gold from then until 1975.

Everything involves some degree of risk. The question is, which sounds like the better bet?


The best bet is physical possession. Everything else is mere pieces of paper. As the Russians found out, you can trust Switzerland until you can’t trust Switzerland. We can trust Swiss banks until we realize we should not have been trusting a particular Swiss bank.

And it may be risky to trust in that “option to escape” when things start to go wobbly. The people whose help one needs to escape to another jurisdiction when the world is going pear-shaped may be quite happy to help us in exchange for some of our gold coins – but we don’t have our gold coins; they are far away across many borders.