Visions of Glory
Perhaps the one skill the British will never impart to Americans is the knowledge of how to fight bad guys while dressed up in a nice suit. Every actor who plays James Bond can do it. Why, even Jason Statham can do it. Most of us want to be like that, even though we've no clue how or even if it is possible at all. Still we dream. But there are days when reality pulls us back to terra firma. Today The Washington Post administered yet another unexpected dose of reality. "Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It’s not our fault."
That's the insurance company's way of saying the young are basically going to expend their youth stuck in poverty, in bondage to their health care premiums. And get a Death Panel at the end of it.
The nation’s insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Obama’s health-care law....
Aetna chief executive Mark T. Bertolini invoked the term at his company’s recent annual investor conference, cautioning that premiums for plans sold to individuals could rise as much as 50 percent on average and could more than double for particular groups such as the young and healthy.
The result: Older, sicker people will pay lower premiums. Younger, healthier people will pay higher ones to make up the difference. The price of a policy for a young, healthy man in, for instance, Milwaukee, could triple from $58 per month to $175, according to a survey of insurers released by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, a center-right think tank, and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Insurers argue that such increases could prompt many healthy young adults to opt out of coverage, skewing the insurance market so heavily toward the old and sick that it implodes.
The future wasn't supposed to be that way. It should have worked out with us all cool, carefree and flip. Whatever happened to that future? The one where we were all going to be guru-like and rich?
Someone remarked in an overheard conversation that the problem with modeling your life after Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is that most people aren't ever going to be like Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates, just as most women are never going to look like movie stars however many of their cosmetic products they adopt. It just doesn't work that way.
But the ad men understand the power of fantasy and know that nothing sells a candidate better than the endorsement of the cool and hip person who you imagine you are like, with whom you fancy a kinship. You vote like that person because you think you are like him or her. This despite the sad fact that you have almost nothing in common with said celebrity. Not the baloney sandwich you will inevitably have for lunch; not the clapped-out Hyundai you drive. Nor the track pants in which you will have to fight the muggers for the possession of your crummy cell phone. You will in all probability never have a tax shelter in the Cayman Islands, nor will you ever, despite your best efforts, ever learn to box like James Bond in a tailored suit.
The Bible optimistically says that "in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams". The young dream: it is their greatest possession. For some it will be their only field of glory. But there are days when it seems that the verse should have been written as "in the last the days your young men will realize they've been conned and that your old politicians have conned them."
Not likely they'll realize anything. In all probability they'll just be sold another dream.
Perhaps historians of the far future will be divided over who bore the most responsibility for our sad era. The generation of elders who bequeathed a disaster to the young. Or the young for letting the old reprobates do it.