If for a brief and strange interlude all people could behave rationally, and if we could take a long view of the future of our country and the future of medicine as it affects our people, our society, and our culture, many things which we do would be stopped and many things which need to be done might at least get started. Some such theme is central to Alan Gregg's searching and compassionate view of contemporary society as the patient and "Greater Medicine" as a much desired form of specific therapy. The first penetrating question he raises is how dear is life? That is, what is it worth? The implication is that human life may be looked upon as losing some of its value in a time of vast and increasing material prosperity, a difficulty illustrated in the Chinese proverb "To share poverty is easy; to share wealth, difficult."