Toby's Issues:


One of the biggest challenges today we face is our crisis in healthcare. The world moves faster, it is more competitive, and we need to maintain our edge if we want to stay as great as we once once were. We can't do that if our people don't have adequate healthcare. The leaders of tomorrow's economy will be the systems and service managers, the great navigators of the information superhighway, the traders using computers to move commerce halfway around the world, and the people who bring him (or her, sometimes) lunch, cut his hair, clean his pool, and feed his pedigree dog heartworm medication.

Now, it has always been said that America is the land of opportunity. People come here with nothing, or a lot of them, actually, are born here with nothing, and the understanding is that, if you work hard and sharpen your skills on the low-end jobs, you'll prove yourself as an asset: a team-player, a quick learner, a promising young person someone can take a chance on. I remember fondly my work experiences in high school. They taught me lessons that I carry with me to this day. From the value of listening at McDonalds, to “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean,” at Wendy's, to the temperature of fryer oil on the naked flesh at KFC, to the revelation that, “what customers don't know wont hurt them, usually” at Pizza Hut, those experiences gave me the thick skin and big work ethic that enabled me to rise to where you see me now. Importantly, I should note that I did not have health insurance when I worked any of these jobs.

Nor should I have. You see, living in a land of opportunity is great, but opportunity is only one half of the equation. The other half is responsibility. And ambition. OK, so maybe there are three halfs in this equation. Lack of healthcare is something we want. It's something we NEED. (I mean, no single person needs it, but we, collectively need it as an idea.) You ever eat at McDonalds, or Wendy's, or KFC? Tasty, right? And fast. And always exactly what you were expecting. That's really the amazing part. You can go into any one of them and food will always taste the same. And, most imnportant, it's cheap! How cheap do you think that food would be if the workers there got a decent wage? And do you even have any idea, how much an employer has to lay out for health insurance for its people? I don't, but I'll bet it's a lot. Health insurance would ruin fast food!

And not only that. Giving people health insurance in these crappy jobs sends totally the wrong message. A crappy job really needs to be crappy. As such, it will provide you with motivation to do well at that crappy job, so you can build a work history and move on to a less crappy job that pays slightly better. (And let's face it, and I speak from experience here, when you work in a kitchen at KFC, there is no motivation to do your job except this.) Do you know what would happen if we gave all those people working in all those crappy jobs health insurance? Their sole motivation for doing a good job, that is, getting the hell out of there and on to better job with health insurance, would disappear. And that would mean the end of fast fried chicken for you and me both, my friends.

So let's remember that as we move forward: we need healthcare. But, at least for now, we also need a lot of people to do thankless jobs that pay very little and are not particularly interesting: fruit picking, weed cutting, pool cleaning, deli delivery, washing windows in high rises, keg delivery, any kind of delivery, really, many administrative jobs in companies and government and academia. Maybe none of them should provide health insurance Maybe instead, they should provide big motivational posters, with words like, “Ambition,” “Excellence,” and “No deductible, $10 co-pay to visit your PCP” on them. And this will empower those worokers with ambition and plans. Plans of doing such a good job that one day, they'll be promoted into a job that gives them repsect, and dignity, a living wage, and yes, finally, decent healthcare.

And speaking of decent, I think I'd be a pretty decent next Mayor of New York. I hope you're starting to feel the same!