OPINION: Not feeling well? Have a beer with the prez

With the success of his recent “beer summit” with Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley, rumor has it that President Obama is considering using the same approach to convince a reluctant Congress to pass his health care reform package. It could give new meaning to having a “round” of talks with your opponents.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming. Does everyone have a cold one now?”
“Yes, Mr. President, thank you. But why is the vice president always at these get-togethers?”
“Free beer. Now let’s get started. I especially want to thank you Blue Dog Democrats for joining us. This, of course, is domestic beer. None of that imported stuff here. There’ll be no Red Bull here, either. The problem we face is making sure all Americans have access to health insurance and health insurance is one of those things most of us don’t really understand. I mean why do they call it a co-pay when I’m the one who has to pay it? Shouldn’t it be a you-pay? Maybe we should include that in the bill.”
“Mr. President, I think we need another round of beers.”
“Sure, here you go. To explain health insurance, I’ve asked an insurance expert to join us.”
“Thank you, Mr. President. Well, health insurance is like a pyramid. All of the folks at the base of the pyramid, which is larger, of course, buy health insurance hoping they never need it. That money, in turn, goes to pay for those at the top of the pyramid who are sick and really do need it. So a few get a return not only on their investment but on all of our investments while the bulk get nothing.”
“So it’s just a large pyramid scheme? Well, I think we all know someone who’s an expert in running those. Get Bernie Madoff on the phone. Tell him he’s pardoned and to come and have a beer. Another round for everyone! I think we’re off to a good start here. Yes, congressman? Second door on the right. You’re welcome.”
“But the real problem is that not everyone can afford health insurance and to provide a government-run plan could cost as much as a trillion dollars over the next decade.”
“Exactly, but only if things stay the same. We’ve got to cut costs even if it means going back to the old days of allowing bartering, when people exchanged things like chickens for their health care.”
“You mean COBRA for cluckers?”
“Something like that. But the real savings can come from preventing people from getting sick in the first place. How do we do that?”
“Well, Mr. President, they say no known pathogen can survive in beer. Maybe we should just do away with all those expensive medicines and penicillin and just buy everybody a beer.”
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38655 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.

Marty Russell