New New Math

Mary was the receptionist and office manager at Southwest Steel Supply, way back when. There was nothing Mary liked better — at work, anyway — than saving the company money. And I was an eager helper.


“Mary,” I’d tell her. “I know how to save the company $500.” She’d perk right up, and I’d wave the latest flyer from Max Depot Staples at her and ask, “These new 386 PC-clones are 15% off — buy me one?” And then Mary would give me her curt little “No” smile and go back to work.

Of course spending $2,500 isn’t the same as saving $500 — but it sure was fun teasing Mary. And there was always the (very) outside chance that I’d wrangle a super-speedy (for 1986) computer out of the deal.

In nationalizing health care, President Obama promises to save us $500. And he’s going to do it magically, by spending $2,500. But the question isn’t answered: Where will the $2,500 come from?


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