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Friday, October 25, 2013

Gail Collins, "Roll Out the Health Care": Schadenfreude?


noun, often capitalized  
: a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people

- Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (

Struggling mightily, as always, to be funny, Gail Collins begins her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Roll Out the Health Care" ( by observing:

"If you’re a citizen who tries to keep up with current affairs, your latest responsibility is having a strong opinion about the troubled rollout of the health insurance marketplace.

Really makes you miss the government shutdown, doesn’t it? Try leading a lively dinner table conversation on software coding errors.

The Democrats are depressed. The Republicans enjoy pointing out that the Obamacare rollout has been a mess. But they obviously can’t pretend to be upset that people are finding it hard to sign up for a program their party wanted to kill, eviscerate and stomp into tiny pieces, which would then be fed to a tank of ravenous eels."

"Dinner table conversation"? Remind me never to have Collins over for dinner, unless I'm serving eels, i.e. never.

As someone who favors universal health care, but also sees the merit of ensuring (yes, pun intended) that such a system also be affordable to a government mired in debt, I take no pleasure in the failed rollout of Obamacare. At a time when America's image is being trampled into the mud by NSA spying against heads of allied states - if you're truly seeking mirth, kindly ask Jay Carney for a transcript of Obama's recent phone conversation with Angela Merkel - this fiasco hardly makes the case for American know-how and ingenuity.

However, seemingly unbeknownst to Gail, a much larger morality game is waiting to be played out by the Obama administration: Can a sufficient number of healthy young people be cajoled into paying higher health care premiums to offset the costs of the uninsurable?

I don't know the answer, but as a student of game theory, I am attentively waiting for the Obamacare website to be fixed in order to watch as this mystery gets played out.

Are there a sufficient number of self-sacrificing and/or gullible martyrs capable of transforming Obamacare into its intended zero-sum, no loss, game? Seventy-two virgins, male or female, do not await them in heaven.

Care to make a wager?

Awaiting the results, I take no pleasure.


  1. The transcript is now available. Burn after reading...

    Merkel: "Vee have reliable intel zat you have been lizening in on my handy calls. Vatt do you have to zay about zis Mr. Prezident?"

    BO: "Um, eh, look here Angela...I don't want you to take this personally but we listen to everyone's phone
    calls and as you're well aware, we watch what everyone is doing on the Internet for safe measure. By the way, speaking of clandestine, I had no idea you were into Victoria's Secret lingerie - my, my! You should have seen the look on Michele's face when I told her about it!"

    Merkel: "Zis is not a joke! Ze German media is all over zis Handyüberwachung scandal. Zey are now calling me 'Obama's b%#$h' und to be honest, my feelings are very hurt. I sought vee ver friends? Allies, you know? Vhy vud you even sink of spying on us? I'm already beginning to miss Bush und Cheney".

    BO:"Well, with things being so bad here at home with our economy and all, I thought we would be able to learn a thing or two from Germany. We also had information that your country was doing backdoor deals with some pretty nefarious folks in the Middle East and we didn't want you cutting in on our business."

    Merkel:"Vell, ven zanctions on Iran are lifted, vee don't vant to be ze last in line to zell our products. Ze Iranians like German products very much. Zey know quality. Did you know zat all zee police cars in Iran are Mercedes? Vat kind of automobiles do zee Vashington DZ police drive?"

    OB:"I think they drive Chevy Impalas, but we're getting off topic here. Look, Angela...I'll get Carney to make a statement to the effect that The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor. He'll say nothing about the past. Get it? This way, we all come out of this Teflon clean."

    Merkel:"Zat Snowden fellow haz cauzed us many problems. Can't you just zend one of zoes drones his vay?"

    OB:"We're working on it. In the meantime, Angela, be careful what you discuss on the phone. We may not be the only ones listening in. Auf Wiedersehen."

    1. You're joking, of course. I didn't see any of this in the White House transcript . . .

    2. Canadians have"free" healthcare that works i believe it started after world war 2 ended...and i know its financed by taxes which are much higher on consumer goods and sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. and the income taxes are higher but their health care works and most citizens are happy with the situation and believe the health care is a good thing...are there other countries that have free health care and if so i would enjoy an article from you explaining why it works for some countries but cant work for the USA Thank you

  2. "Hehehe," she giggled happily.

  3. Alan,
    I am all for universal health. Canada introduced her system relatively late (1973?4?), possibly because there wasn't such pressure as in Europe where the Nazi collaborating governments were grabbed and pushed by the population (frankly, also collaborating to a significant degree) and ordered: "Give us ... or." This "or" (uncle Joe) was happily smiling nearby, ready, ready, ready ....
    I don't know the details but I am afraid that there is a real problem with Obamacare, possibly because our strong, strong leader threw it under the bus before it was even born.