Sep 25, 2023
Sep 25, 2023
The other day I was taking a stroll near my house and suddenly the ground opened up beneath my feet. I wasn’t reading Salman Rushdie and like Clinton, I don’t inhale. I am not named Persephone or Sita and while I have many faults, I don’t live on top of them. I suspected that I was a victim of Obama’s infrastructure stimulus. He was following Keynesianism and must have started an infrastructure project, but like his fixes for mortgages under water and rising home foreclosures, he had probably given the stimulus money to his favorite bankers who do god’s work, instead of unemployed construction workers and the government and the bankers omitted to put up a warning sign for us common pedestrians, because it was a matter of national security.
A good Samaritan Republican told me before he pushed me into the sinkhole that I was unfair to Obama. He had ordered a sinkhole to be created by digging at government expense and intended to combat unemployment first by digging up such holes and then repairing them. That is what Keynes had recommended to fight depression and resultant unemployment. It seemed logical to me, as in my medical career, I had frequently come across academics who published a paper on flimsy facts and then wrote and published another paper rescinding the previous erroneous one. The Republican who pushed me in, told me not to worry and assured me that he was not on any death panel and that I would be richer by sinking into the hole.
I slipped through a tunnel like passageway and landed in a large subterranean chamber which was filled by a group of well dressed mostly white men and women. I apologized for my intrusion, but was welcomed and informed that I was at a tea party meeting. I asked why they were not made up to look like American Indians to escape any adverse consequences of their vandalism in the form of a protest. They laughed at my misunderstanding of US history and informed me that they were mostly Republicans gone underground for a Halloween party. They had dispensed with their hoods and masks because of unpleasant childhood memories of having frequently experienced the punishment by their teachers of long hours of facing the walls in their classrooms wearing a cap with a label. The robes they considered Southern Democrats’ uniforms and thus forbidden to their upper caste.
Many of them were waving placards calling Obama names, demanding repeal of the healthcare bill, cutting taxes, eliminating government regulation, cutting government spending and balancing the budget. I thought that it would be a good idea to pacify them before they did something violent and crazy, so I told them that Obama, despite the promise of change, was still waging two Bush wars, continuing rendition, keeping Guantanamo and Bagram open, rewarding crooked bankers, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, but in passing the health bill had assured that no one could be discriminated or dropped because of pre-existing medical conditions. An elderly couple shouted at me that it was going to lead to death panels denying them necessary treatment like cystostomy (bladder tube), gastrostomy (abdominal stomach tube), colostomy (defecating tube on the abdomen), respirators and intensive care, if they were in a nursing home at government expense after they gifted their assets to their children and were suffering with Alzheimer’s , strokes and inoperable cancers. We don’t want to be denied treatment to prolong our life even for a few hours, so that some poor child, man or woman can get basic preventive care.
I said that if we had to balance the budget there would have to be some rationing of unnecessary, ineffective and excessive medical care. They screamed that there should be no cuts in medicare. If any cuts have to be made in healthcare they should be in medicaid, whose recipients were freeloaders. A younger couple spoke up that the government had no right to mandate health insurance as it was uncostipational. I explained that it would lead to people not buying any health insurance until they developed a major illness and then using the law to demand guaranteed health insurance at cheaper rates and becoming freeloaders.
A couple of persons said they were owners of small businesses with fifty employees and would now be compelled to offer health insurance and that would cut their profits. I explained that they would get tax credits for their expenses but they were so incensed that they said that the government had to eliminate the minimum wage or they would move their corporate headquarters to Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Mexico or China to reduce wages and avoid US income tax. I addressed the cut expenditure, balance budget crowd that the major items in the budget were medicare, medicaid, social security, military expenditure and interest on the debt. Balancing the budget could only be done if they accepted cuts in entitlements or cut military expenditure. They insisted that the Pentagon budget could not be cut and any cuts they would tolerate would be in the benefits of others.
I pointed out the inconsistencies and incompatibility of their combined demands and remarked that they had not used reasoned thought and rational analysis. At that point a chorus broke out calling Obama a Nazi. Once again I said how can you call him that? He has won the election, not engineered a coup, not indulged in a holocaust and cannot be labeled a racist. The chorus accused me of being an Asian Indian Hindu and thus assured of repeated rebirth to fulfill my desires, while they were single life Jews and Christians and they wanted their money now, like in the advertisement song by a company called J.G.Wentworth. An intellectual type quoted Hobbes,”It is better the whole world be destroyed rather than I lose my non-dominant hand little finger’s tip”.
I realized that I had landed in the mad hatter’s tea party and there was no benefit in staying on to determine whether their mental status was a result of inhalation of toxic fumes or due to development disaster. For my sanity and safety, I threw them bait to distract their attention by asking them if they would like tax cuts and as they salivated in ecstasy, I whipped out my Star Trek transporter and urgently ordered Scottie to beam me up without proclaiming that there was no intelligent life in the realm of the Mad Red Queen who was taking them for a cool hundred thousand for each pep talk. I did not have my GPS so I don’t know whether this underground chamber was in Dover , Witchita, Zombieland or Hades. I have also started using a cane to poke the ground before I step on it, lest I have to say,”One small step for man, one giant fall for mankind”.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD