Monday, August 24, 2009

Hunger Insurance From Dmitry Orlov

Our longtime friend, author of Reinventing Collapse and numerous helpful pieces on the differences and non-differences between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the impending collapse of the US Empire, has a screamingly funny post up on the US healthcare system. Here it is in its entirety:

"I would like to sell you some hunger insurance. Are you insured against hunger? Perhaps you should be! Without this coverage, you may find it impossible to continue to afford feeding yourself and your family. With this coverage, not only will you be assured of continuing to get at least some food, but so will I. In fact, thanks to this plan, I will get to eat very, very well indeed.

Here's how it works. You buy a hunger insurance plan from my hunger insurance company, or from one of my illustrious competitors in the hunger insurance industry. The hunger insurance market is very competitive, offering you plenty of consumer choice. You can even decide to go with a hunger maintenance organization (HMO); that would make a lot of sense if you are on a diet.

Whichever company you choose buys up food in bulk on your behalf. Then, should you come down with a case of hunger, you can file a claim, pay the copayment, and get some of the food. Certain feeding procedures, such as breakfast, are considered elective, and are not covered.

The company is in a position to demand lower prices for food from the food providers, and can even pass some of these savings on to you. (But the fine folks in the hunger insurance company do have to eat too, you know.) Of course, the food providers try to make up the difference by charging those without hunger insurance much higher prices, but how can anyone blame them? That's just market economics. There may also be some food-related benefits, such as lower rental rates on bowls, spoons, napkins and feeding tubes (check the details of your plan).

There is just one more twist: you should try to arrange your hunger insurance plan through your employer. You see, it is much more expensive for companies to do business with consumers directly. It is much cheaper and easier for them to deal with other companies, and this allows them to, again, pass along some of the savings. In fact, many hunger insurers may decide not to sell individual hunger plans because group hunger is much more profitable. This is just Business 101: nothing personal. Plus, how can you afford to pay your hunger premium every month if you are unemployed? It goes without saying that if you want to keep your hunger insurance, you better try to keep your job, whether they pay you or not! And if you are currently unemployed, then, well... why am I still talking to you?

I am sure you will agree that this is a damn good system: it offers you consumer choice, a healthy diet, and, most importantly, peace of mind. But, as you may have heard, some people have been clamoring for a so-called "single-feeder system" run by the government. Now, that sort of thing may be very well for those miserable communists, but let me ask you a couple of questions.

First: Do you want to get fed the same as everyone else, even if you can afford to pay a little extra? What if you, say, win the lottery; wouldn't you want to upgrade to the premium plan, and dine on filet mignon, foie gras and truffles like I do instead of the corporate-government-provided Happi-Meals?

But even more importantly, who do you want your children to be when they grow up: lowly, overworked, underpaid government bureaucrats, or fat-cat capitalists like me? Isn't this compelling vision of hope worth tightening your belt for? To be perfectly honest, those jobs are reserved for my children, but yours might still be able to find work as their personal bathroom assistants, if they are docile and pretty... let's pretend you didn't hear that.

But ultimately it is still all up to you, because it is you who, every few years, walks into a voting booth and pulls a lever. And then I have to work with whoever you elect, and bring them around to seeing things my way. We are in this together, you see: you get to pull the lever, but I get to write the checks, with your money. Politicians have to eat too, you know, I am there to help them, and they know it.

Is that your stomach growling, or are you just happy to see me?"

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Rules (Apologies to Bill Maher)

Well, it has been quite some time, and of course Chaos would apologize to any remaining readers (assuming there are some to begin with), but really, it all seems a bit much these days. It pains Chaos to be right about the US health care system, but what purpose does it serve, after all, to know that if one remains in this country, any medical issues will involve much more funds than one can afford? To know this and remain, it seems, is a willful act of negligence, if not blindness.

At any rate, Chaos now has a few new axioms to live by, having studied multiple issues of massive importance for the last few years, and here they are:

1. Any problem which requires the vast majority of the public to "wake up," "come together," and act in any sort of unified fashion will fail. E.g., peak oil, peak water, peak resources, global heating, driving slower, etc.
2. Any problem which involves disabling or diminishing the influence of large corporate entities will fail. E.g., health care, agricultural reform, regulation of large financial firms, etc.
3. Any problem which requires more than a modicum of understanding by the public (and most especially, the US public) will fail. E. g., all the above examples mentioned, plus drug policy, gun control, and legalization of homosexual rights.
4. Population control will not be mentioned, outside of China, and some doomer blogs.
5. Discussion of the effects of and the eventual exhaustion of exponential growth in use of finite resources is strictly taboo, in all circumstances.
6. Humans will not change unless forced to by changes in circumstances. Changes in actions will always precede changes in attitudes. E.g., we didn't stop overconsuming and borrowing money for same because we figured out it was a good idea, we just ran out of money.