Two Modest Suggestions

Column by Paul Hein.

Exclusive to STR

A long time ago, in a different galaxy, I offered a suggestion for the relief of the financial problems of the airline industry. My advice went unheeded, and today we see the sorry mess that constitutes that industry today. I told you so!

My idea, as I’m sure you remember, was to enhance the profitable aspects of airline operation, while reducing the operating costs. I suggested the formation of a new airline, which I named NoFly, which would sell tickets, but not be encumbered by such expensive accoutrements as airplanes, crew, maintenance, fuel, etc.

Predictably, there were some who found the idea ridiculous, for which I blame myself, having attributed to my critics a degree of sophistication which they evidently lacked. I had thought it unnecessary to point out that for my idea to get off the ground would require the active assistance of government, as is true of many, if not most, large industries today. Specifically, government would need to declare the tickets of NoFly a “legal tender for air travel,” so that they could be presented to any other airline, operating in the traditional fashion (with airplanes, etc.), and be transported thereon. Once used, however, the NoFly tickets would not be cancelled, and could be sold by the traditional airline again and again, thus enhancing their acceptability.

In addition, the traditional airlines could purchase the desirable NoFly tickets inexpensively, directly from the NoFly discount window, thus enhancing their profits, and, ultimately, making the issuing of their own tickets unnecessary and undesirable. It was even considered a possibility that, eventually, the NoFly tickets could be used by the airlines to buy fuel, pay for maintenance, insurance, etc.

What ultimately doomed my idea, however, was the scathing comment that using tickets of an airline without airplanes is as absurd as using notes of a bank without money. What could I say to that?

Undaunted, however, I am now turning my attention to a different problem: namely, medical care--especially the question of medical insurance.

No great amount of research is necessary to uncover the fact that sickness has become a way of life in America. In my youth, with Galen and Hippocrates, good health was the norm, and sickness was an aberration. Only a few people took medicine.

Today the situation is reversed. Everyone is sick and seeing doctors regularly, and every medicine chest is stuffed with pills, capsules, suppositories, inhalants, salves, and drops. There are myriad drugs for every disease, and some for which no disease has yet been found. This enormous demand for medical care and drugs is supported by insurance, which, in turn, makes medical care and drugs more expensive, triggering the need for more insurance, etc. It is a vicious circle--but not to worry! If you become depressed, there are plenty of drugs for that--and if their side effects sicken you, there are drugs for that, too. And you can sue the drug company!

My concern is for those people who, through no fault of their own, are healthy. Anticipating the worst, they have paid health insurance premiums for years, but to their dismay, have never needed to use it. This, it seems to me, is a situation crying out for a remedy, which I propose to provide via an un-health insurance company which I will call Malmed, which will do its best to provide sickness for those unfortunate enough to be robust. Policy owners could specify the sort of illness they wish to enjoy—perhaps metabolic, or infectious, or nutritional, and Malmed would do its best to see that the customer got his money’s worth with the appropriate mal-treatment.

Some have recommended that, for those maladjusted individuals on the fringes of society who do not wish to enjoy even the most popular of diseases, a refund of a portion of their health insurance premiums be provided. That, however, could only come from their medical insurance companies, who, with a vested interest in disease, might understandably be unwilling to subsidize wellness. This opens the market for Malmed, providing the anticipated illness that the payers of health insurance premiums so richly deserve for their thousands of dollars of premiums.

Anyway, I plan to develop this idea, whose time, I believe, has come. What, after all, is the point of paying thousands upon thousands of dollars for medical insurance, and then remaining well? It’s not only economically unjust, but downright un-American. Just look at those crowded parking lots at the “health” center, those jammed waiting rooms with patients patiently waiting for the medical services to which you, too, are entitled by your health insurance premiums, but which, cursed with good health, you are denied!

Once I’ve got the health insurance problem solved, I’m going to see what I can do about those poor Irish orphans.

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 150


Glen Allport's picture

Great satire, Paul! Funniest thing I've read in weeks, yet . . . strangely infused with truthiness, as Colbert might say.