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A Loaf Under Each Arm

Yesterday I went out early paying visits, with a loaf of bread under each arm.
No, I wasn’t crying about my financial circumstances. I just hate visiting empty handed. I arrived at the family home of a friend to find that he had left already to return to the east-coast. I had missed seeing him for Christmas. What ensued was one of those heart-rending moments I often have around the holidays, ….and the rest of the year.
His father was resting on an overstuffed chair under a blanket, trying to keep his badly aching knees from aching. We talked about warmth and furnaces, and then I mentioned I had bought a new one, and then the conversation went to tax write-offs, and how I was determined to give this government as little money as possible and, “Say, Juan,” asked my friends father, “tell me about this new health bill! What’s this law going to do for me? How’s it going to help me and the Mrs.”
Ah, I had the sad job. I could smell fresh coffee brewing down the hall. “Well, it’s not,” I had to tell him. “It’s not designed to help seniors. In fact, it’s more likely to hurt seniors in more ways than one…”
“Yeh? How?”
“Well, first it will actually cut money to Medicare, under the idea that they can make Medicare more efficient. They’re just redirecting some money from Medicare. Worse, it’ll raise the cumulative effect of Federal, State, and local taxes… some people say… as though your Federal Income tax went up 10%. Remember, the government only has one way to raise revenue to pay for such things…. That’s to raise taxes.”
He pulled his pajama top closer at the top and buttoned the open button. “Well, why are they doing this? Who’s it going to benefit?”
“Well, it’s supposed to benefit people who are simply not on insurance, can’t get it or choose not to be, because it will force them to buy insurance and present proof of it, sort of like if you own a car, and it will force insurance companies to cover everyone for a prescribed rate. You know what that will do. It will make insurance companies raise the rates of everyone else to cover the people it ordinarily wouldn’t cover. You’ll be paying higher rates, along with higher Federal taxes to cover this trillion dollar program and the interest on the loan from the Chinese. ”
“Oh, my goodness.” He shifted his position to glance down the hall, “Say, how’s that coffee coming?”
“Also,” I continued, ” in order to pay for this program and the Mega-stimuli, the Feds will have to scale down some programs that the states are beneficiaries of, so you can pretty much count on your state taxes going up too.”
He looked at me stunned,”well, how did this get passed?” Such Christmas cheer and good news for the new year.
“Well, unfortunately Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency are all controlled by the Democrats, and, well…. it’s usually a bad thing when one party controls everything.”
“Well, what did the Republicans want to do?”
“Well,” I started slowly, ” they wanted to keep insurance costs down by limiting the amount of money people could sue doctors, hospitals, companies that make tools that people injure themselves with… This would have kept down premiums on malpractice insurance, and other forms of liability insurance. Also, they wanted to provide companies and other organizations and individuals greater tax benefits for providing insurance to their employees and members. This way, the government wouldn’t have to create this huge bureaucratic addition, the new Federal Health Care Agency (or whatever they’ll call it) with tons of employees sitting around…”
“I know, I know, and eating donuts… For Christmas sake…”
My friend’s sweet old mother toasted some of the bread I brought and it smelled good. “Have some, Juan.” She returned to the kitchen to get the coffee.

“Now tell me about this new furnace you bought…” He was rubbing his knees.
“Well, my energy bills were going through the roof”
“Mine too, they were $400.00 a month last year!”
“Well, then you might want to consider looking into a more efficient furnace. You see, with this cap- and-trade that the government passed, our energy costs will be going way up…”
I could see through the front window that the snow had started to fall again. We ate warm bread. We talked some more about NSAIDS and pain relievers. My friend’s father periodically rubbed his sore legs. I knew I had to be leaving. It was coming down in clumps now, the coffee had perked me up, we had confirmed the madness of the magistrates, and I still had 2 loaves to deliver…

copyright 2009 by Juan Zapatero

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