Monday, August 10, 2009

Fairness Among Friends by Tom Naughton



“Hey, Bob.”

“Hey, Tom! What’s up?”

“Not much. I just wanted to remind you to send me that health-insurance check.”

“Excuse me?”

“The check. For the insurance. You’re supposed to help us pay for our policy.”

Excuse me?!

“And I don’t want you to think I’m not grateful. I’ve got the girls making you a thank-you card as we speak.”

“What the @#$% are you talking about?”

“Good grief, Bob, I thought you followed the news. The Democrats have decided it’s only fair that people in your income bracket should help offset the high cost of health insurance for people like me. So they’re going to let the Bush tax cuts expire, then they’re going to slap you with an extra 5.4 percent on top of it.”

“Jesus H. Christ on a stick! I’ll be paying more than 50 percent in taxes!”

“Yeah, I know. Good thing you inherited all that wealth.”

“What?! You’ve known me since I was 12 years old! I didn’t inherit a dime!”

“Sheeoot, that’s right. Well, the point is, you’re rich and I’m not, and with the way health insurance keeps going up, it’s only fair for you to help me out.”

“Woah, hang on a second, Tom. You’re not exactly poor.”

“I guess that’s true. But with all my business expenses over the past couple of years, I made less than four times the poverty rate, so I get a subsidy to help buy health insurance.”

“Four times the poverty rate? What kind of dollars are we talking about?”

“Parents with two kids, four times the poverty rate comes out to $88,000. Sorry, Buddy, but I’m under the limit. So, you still have my address, or …?”

“Wait, wait, wait! Did you make close to $88,000?”

“There’s no need to get into irrelevant technicalities here. I shouldn’t have to explain that to a lawyer.”

“Okay, so I’m assuming you did. How much do you pay for health insurance?”

“About $350 per month.”

“What the … ? Don’t tell me you can’t afford that!”

“Well, yeah, I can … but it’s one of those high-deductible policies with a co-pay. It really pisses me off to have to actually pay a doctor when I go see one. So after we start getting your checks, I’m going to get a much better policy. Actually, the correct buzzword is comprehensive.”

“I don’t believe this $@%#. What do those idiots in Congress think they’re doing?”

“I believe they call it reform. And any proposal with the word reform in the title has to be good. I’m always in favor of reform. And fairness. They use the word fairness a lot, and we all know that’s good.”

“I see. So fairness means I get to start paying your medical bills?”

“Yes, that’s right. Because you’re rich.”

“Tom … remember when we were in high school, and we both said we wanted to go to law school?”

“Of course.”

“And then in college, I still said I was going to go to law school, but you decided you’d rather go to medical school?”


“And then after college, you remember how I actually did go to law school?”

“Sure, I remember. I barely saw you for three years.”

“That’s because nobody saw me unless they happened to be sitting next me to in the law library! Meanwhile, you decided to become a freelance writer, for godssakes!”

“Are you criticizing my career choice?”

Choices. Plural. Freelance writer, musician, actor, standup comedian. Anything you wanted to try, you tried it. Meanwhile, I’ve been working 60-hour weeks for the past 25 years. You get what I’m saying?”

“I think so. You’re acknowledging that you were blessed with the kind of discipline and commitment that allowed you to set a plan for your life and stick with it and work like a dog to achieve it, but I wasn’t. You’re right; that just isn’t fair. But you don’t have to apologize for it. You were probably just born that way.”

“That’s not exactly what I was - ”

“So, you figure the check will go in the mail today, or …?”

“Well, heck yes. Tell you what, I’ll send it FedEx so you don’t have to wait.”


“Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to call the guy who was going to build that addition on our cabin and tell him to forget it.”

“Well, be careful there. If you cancel on him and his income drops below $88,000 you’ll have to pay for his health insurance, too.”



“Bob? … Hello? … Bob?”

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