Fake News: Health-care reform brings a new era

With Sunday night’s passage by Congress of the most sweeping piece of  social legislation in decades, America awoke Monday morning to a new day. Health care reform had become the law of the land, and socialism had become our new way of life.

When the alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. in America’s house, the nation leaned over and mashed the snooze button.

“This new system is going to be great,” the people muttered as they rolled over and went back to sleep. “‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ My ability right now is zilch, so I’m going back to sleep. This socialism stuff is going to be so cool.”

The U.S. slumbered peacefully until almost 8 a.m., when the utopian ideal of people working together for the collective welfare of society suddenly morphed into an age of totalitarianism. The phone rang and America’s boss was on the other end, and he was mad.

“WHERE ARE YOU?” the overseer shouted threateningly. “You need to be in this office and you need to be here NOW!”

The nation hopped out of bed and gathered up its clothes. Well, it muttered to itself as the coffee brewed, you have to make compromises sometimes for the greater good. Life isn’t suddenly going to become some type of paradise.

When America arrived at work, it found that the office had been rearranged over the weekend. Gone was its modest but comfortable cubicle near the window. In its place was a so-called “open floor plan” where all the actuaries would be huddled together in one cramped corner. The totalitarian state unveiled only 45 minutes ago had now become full-blown Stalinism, with the workers confined to their gulag.

As the people settled into their daily routine, they momentarily forgot about the new and oppressive environment. Guard towers may have replaced water coolers, but there was still the matter of completing the PowerPoint presentation in time for that 10 a.m. meeting with the new client from Italy.

When America walked into the conference room, the client was already waiting, his face pinched, his arms crossed, his gaze aimed dismissively down his Roman nose. The age of fascism had arrived.

“You must make my deadline of April 3rd!” the client shouted. “All within this date, nothing outside this date, nothing against this date!”

After the meeting, the nation got a chance to catch up on a few e-mails and sneak a quick look at Facebook. Noon wasn’t far off by now, and America’s stomach started to grumble as it thought about what kind of lunch might be available under such a radically new system of government. It didn’t have to wonder long as its supervisor arrived and announced the whole department would be going out together.

“We’re going to that new Ethiopian restaurant across town,” he proclaimed. “And because it’s such a nice day, we’re going to walk.”

And so began the era of Maoism — a forced Long March that would end with a cultural revolution consisting of a washcloth-like sourdough flatbread and a berbere-flavored stew.

By the time the meal was finished and a dyspeptic nation limped back to the office, it was becoming increasingly clear that America had changed for the worse. As the actuaries entered the lobby of their office building, fellow workers from the finance department had gathered around the railing of the second floor, angling their arms skyward as they waved a greeting.

“Seig Heil!” they sang in unison, and the age of Nazism was upon the land.

Back at its desk, the afternoon unfolded uneventfully for America. There was time to work on its performance review and several routine phone calls to answer before the 3 o’clock seminar being staged by the quality improvement consultant.

Walking into the small training room, the nation and its co-workers were pleased to find a large-screen TV monitor at the front of the room. The consultant was wearing funny horn-rimmed glasses and a fake moustache, and written on the whiteboard was the phrase “Laughter = Creativity”. As the group settled into their chairs, the screen flickered to life and the Marx Brothers’ classic film “A Night at the Opera” began.

Just as opponents of health care reform had warned, America was now living under a Marxist regime.

The movie took up the rest of the afternoon and was followed by a brief discussion session of how it would impact the way new ideas could bubble up through the corporation, and how improved quality didn’t have to be expensive.

The consultant summed up the afternoon’s activities: “The workers of this seminar have nothing to lose but their chains,” he said. “Workers of the sixth floor, unite! Unite to come up with a way to cut costs in each of your departments by 10%.”

It was now close to 6 p.m. and a tired nation headed home from work. America was hungry again, but didn’t want to spend a lot of time and money on dinner, so it stopped at Burger King.

The cycle of tyranny was now complete — the United States had been transformed from the most vibrant democracy in the history of the world into an icon of monarchism.

On top of everything else, the Whopper Junior must have turned because the nation got a really bad stomach ache. But at least it had universal health care and could afford to get it taken care of.

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