My wife, Carolyn, just got fired.
It was a crummy job with crummy pay.
But to Dollar General’s credit, they provided health insurance, albeit after six month’s employment. That’s why Carolyn worked there. And, quite possibly, it was the high cost of that insurance got her canned.
Now, like millions of others, Carolyn’s in that rock-and-hard place: too young for Medicare, too old to suit most employers.
I advised, “Run for Congress. It’s a dream job. With the best health insurance in the world.”
“Yeah, right.” She was underwhelmed.
I continued my pitch: “Pay’s good. About 160 grand a year. With guaranteed increases, an unlimited expense account, and a pension plan that beats the Sultan of Brunei’s. Not to mention an army of ass-kissers, a big office, limo, and government-subsidized everything.”
“Don’t you have to be a lawyer or something?” she asked.
“Heck, no! Qualifications for Congress are less than Dollar General demands for their minimum-wage jobs.
- Be at least age 25 and a citizen.
- Have two facial expressions: a smile for corporate contributors; a look of concern for constituents.
“No lifting. No stocking. No late-night robberies. Well, citizens get mugged, but that’s another story. And you can’t be fired for being too old.”
Carolyn shook her head. “Of course,” she replied, “it helps if you lack conscience and heart.”
She would have to work on that.
I’m so old I can remember when our representatives in Washington sometimes cared about citizens.
Hard to believe today, but back when we had a democracy in America, Congress often voted with their constituents in mind. Now, of course, with most all congressional seats gerrymandered safe, voters don’t count. Today’s constituents are the corporations that fund campaigns.
Rule #1: The Voter is an Idiot
“The beauty of the New Corpocracy,” I explained, “is even if no one runs against you, corporations give you tens of thousands of dollars. And all you have to do is vote their way.”
Carolyn laughed. “I guess if you’re going to be a whore, you might as well be a rich one.”
“That’s the attitude!” She might make Speaker of the House with that kind of forward thinking.
“What about real citizen problems? Carolyn asked. “Like medicine for the 14 million seniors without coverage? I’d have to be seriously sleazy to ignore that, wouldn’t I?”
“Not in today’s Congress,” I replied. “Congressmen once had to listen to seniors moan about how they must choose between eating and taking the medicines their doctors prescribe. As a representative of the people, they weighed the benefits of providing life-saving drugs to seniors against issues like budgetary restraints, patent policy on taxpayer-developed drugs, even free trade with Canada.”
“And today?” Carolyn asked.
“You wouldn’t have to bother your little Congressional red head with such complications. Instead, you simply apply Congressional Rule #2: ‘Give business what it wants; make it sound like a citizen benefit.'”
Carolyn seemed perplexed.
“In the case of drugs for needy seniors, there’s the ‘Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.’ Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Who’d guess that it benefits the pharmaceutical companies with a $300 billion windfall profit?”
Carolyn winced. “That’s terrible!”
“No, Honey. You’ve got to think like a congressman, and to him, that’s wonderful! Three hundred billion buys you and your party millions in legal bribes from the high rollers at Big Pharma. Everybody wins.”
“Except the voters,” Carolyn said.
“That’s the beauty of the system! Voters get frustrated, feel impotent, and stop voting. Already half the country has succumbed. And with every nonvoter, business and their Congressional toadies grow stronger. It’s the new America!”
“Sounds more like America Lite,” my wife grumbled. “By the way, what’s Congressional Rule #1? ‘When in doubt, pander’?”
“The voter is an idiot.”
“Perhaps. But what’s the rule?”
“That’s it,” I said. “Congressional Rule #1 is, ‘The Voter is an Idiot.’ Think about it. About the way Washington treats us.”
Carolyn moaned, “Geez! To run, I’d have to have any sense of decency and shame surgically removed.” She thought for a second. “Hell, if I do that, I might as well run for President.”
What a great idea, I thought. I’d vote for her. Think of the health benefits I’d get as First Guy.
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