More Government Goodies

TO WIT

October 24, 1993|By DAVE BARRY

Health-care reform, NAFTA, "Reinventing Government" -- these are issues that deeply concern you, as an informed American, in the sense that if you read one more word about them, you are going to puke. Nevertheless we intend to address them today, because we are a professional news commentator, and we feel that it is our responsibility, from time to time, to refer to ourselves in the plural.

Health Care Reform

This is an important issue, because many Americans are not receiving adequate health care. We certainly are not. We haven't been to our doctor's office in several years. Don't get us wrong: We love our doctor, whose name is Curt. He sits right behind us at Miami Heat basketball games, and we're deeply impressed by the wisdom of his observations, such as: "He's a bum!"

But the last time we went to Curt's office, he suddenly, without warning, put on a rubber glove and did something to us that we cannot discuss in the newspaper. So now we're afraid to go to Curt's office, because we don't know what he might do to us next.

Thus our only option, if we developed a serious medical problem, would be to do what millions of other Americans must do: Go to a Miami Heat basketball game. Our plan would be to get Curt's attention by dropping subtle hints. ("Hi Curt! By the way, we have a large lesion!") Then, during timeouts, Curt could diagnose our condition by asking medical questions. ("Could you try not to bleed on my nachos?")

But this is not a long-term solution. What we need is reform that would require doctors to return to the old type of physical examination wherein they don't actually touch you, but instead just ask a bunch of questions, to which the correct answer is always "no." ("Have you ever had the plague? Eyeball worms? Any trampoline-transmitted diseases?")

Also, just to make sure, doctors should be required to wear a restraining device like the one Dr. Hannibal Lecter wore in "Silence of the Lambs." This would make all Americans feel more comfortable about medical care, and free them to think about the important issue of ...

NAFTA

"NAFTA" is an antonym standing for "North Atlantic Treaty Organization." This agreement, hammered out by the United States, Canada, Mexico and Belgium, would enable the nations to trade freely with one another. For example, the United States could trade North Dakota, Kansas and a state to be named later to Canada in exchange for Toronto and Montreal; many economists believe this would create jobs in the moving industry and guarantee that Canada would never again win the World Series.

Leading the support for NAFTA is President Clinton, who favors it because it is a humongously boring government thing that only he understands. Leading the opposition is "H." Ross Perot, the maverick billionaire space alien, who believes that the real purpose of NAFTA is to disrupt his daughter's wedding.

Which side will prevail? We frankly haven't been paying much attention to NAFTA, because we're so excited about ...

Reinventing Government

This is a brainstorm from Vice President Al "Mojo" Gore, who, while carrying out his vice-presidential duties as stated in the Constitution ("The vice president shall wear a nice suit") noticed that the government, in performing its many functions, demonstrates the brainpower of a sponge.

As an example of bureaucratic inefficiency, Gore noted that the government agencies go through an absurdly complex procedure simply to purchase ashtrays.

"It's ridiculous," he pointed out. "The agencies should just steal them from motels, like everybody else."

So the administration has a bold reform program under which the government would take such radical steps as -- get ready -- requiring federal agencies to answer their telephones. Of course this would require intensive employee re-training programs. Also, there would be some health risk to the thousands of elderly people who dialed the Social Security Administration as far back as 1975 and have been hanging on the line ever since; many of these people would suffer heart attacks if they were to suddenly hear an actual human voice. Fortunately for them we will soon have health-care reform, so they can all be treated, regardless of income level, at the basketball game of their choice.

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