Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hunger Insurance

[In italiano]

[Week Two of ClubOrlov summer vacation. Food prices are about to go through the roof because of the disastrous harvests. Meanwhile politicians here in the US are conjuring up ways to keep entitlements going with just two underemployed working-age people there to support each retiree. And so, it's time to recycle this post. See if you can guess what it's about.

And if you can't, then why don't you go out and take part in the Reverse French Revolution that's underway in the US. That's where revolting peasants do all they can to elect an aristocrat who will swindle them out of their savings even faster and lock up even more of them in the Bastille. And what makes these peasants so revolting is that they are all fat—from eating cake instead of bread, just as Marie Antoinette had suggested.]

I would like to sell you some hunger insurance. Are you insured against hunger? Perhaps you should be! Without this coverage, you may find it impossible to continue to afford feeding yourself and your family. With this coverage, not only will you be assured of continuing to get at least some food, but so will I. In fact, thanks to this plan, I will get to eat very, very well indeed.


Here's how it works. You buy a hunger insurance plan from my hunger insurance company, or from one of my illustrious competitors in the hunger insurance industry. The hunger insurance market is very competitive, offering you plenty of consumer choice. You can even decide to go with a hunger maintenance organization (HMO); that would make a lot of sense if you are on a diet.

Whichever company you choose buys up food in bulk on your behalf. Then, should you come down with a case of hunger, you can file a claim, pay the copayment, and get some of the food. Certain feeding procedures, such as breakfast, are considered elective, and are not covered.

The company is in a position to demand lower prices for food from the food providers, and can even pass some of these savings on to you. (But the fine folks in the hunger insurance company do have to eat too, you know.) Of course, the food providers try to make up the difference by charging those without hunger insurance much higher prices, but how can anyone blame them? That's just market economics. There may also be some food-related benefits, such as lower rental rates on bowls, spoons, napkins and feeding tubes (check the details of your plan).

There is just one more twist: you should try to arrange your hunger insurance plan through your employer. You see, it is much more expensive for companies to do business with consumers directly. It is much cheaper and easier for them to deal with other companies, and this allows them to, again, pass along some of the savings. In fact, many hunger insurers may decide not to sell individual hunger plans because group hunger is much more profitable. This is just Business 101: nothing personal. Plus, how can you afford to pay your hunger premium every month if you are unemployed? It goes without saying that if you want to keep your hunger insurance, you better try to keep your job, whether they pay you or not! And if you are currently unemployed, then, well... why am I still talking to you?

I am sure you will agree that this is a damn good system: it offers you consumer choice, a healthy diet, and, most importantly, peace of mind. But, as you may have heard, some people have been clamoring for a so-called "single-feeder system" run by the government. Now, that sort of thing may be very well for those miserable communists, but let me ask you a couple of questions.

First: Do you want to get fed the same as everyone else, even if you can afford to pay a little extra? What if you, say, win the lottery; wouldn't you want to upgrade to the premium plan, and dine on filet mignon, foie gras and truffles like I do instead of the corporate-government-provided Happi-Meals?

But even more importantly, who do you want your children to be when they grow up: lowly, overworked, underpaid government bureaucrats, or fat-cat capitalists like me? Isn't this compelling vision of hope worth tightening your belt for? To be perfectly honest, those jobs are reserved for my children, but yours might still be able to find work as their personal bathroom assistants, if they are docile and pretty... let's pretend you didn't hear that.

But ultimately it is still all up to you, because it is you who, every few years, walks into a voting booth and pulls a lever. And then I have to work with whoever you elect, and bring them around to seeing things my way. We are in this together, you see: you get to pull the lever, but I get to write the checks, with your money. Politicians have to eat too, you know, I am there to help them, and they know it.

Is that your stomach growling, or are you just happy to see me?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant stuff Dmitry as usual. No one else can make us laugh through our tears like you do. Keep it coming.

nina said...

Well, it sounds pretty good, but I see a drawback. We, the end users, don't really know what's going on in the kitchens. You'll want to take our concerns about the help into consideration because that might just springboard into lots of as yet undreamed of technologies and employments in the security industry, all of which you'll be overseeing and incorporating as well as providing the buffet for plenty of swaps. Then you're definitely onto something big.

DanT said...

Here in Canada, any politician who even whispers that they will dismantle our Medicare will be vilified by 90% of the populace. A few insurance companies and some members of the Canadian Medical Association may be part of the dissenting 10%, The remainder of the 10% aren't greedy, just ignorant.

Chris said...

That is probably the pithiest summation I've seen in a long time of how feudalism starts.

Anonymous said...

Neil Lori thanks Dmitry for an LMAO {laughed my ass off piece}. It is comical and brilliant. The part about people being bathroom attendants could become true. We may see the return of massive numbers of a servant class. In the mean time don't worry about food prices too much until Team Obama's dollar printing presses stop working.

Seriously if I had land then I would be farming food right now.

Neil Lori

Anonymous said...

Neil Lori comment two.

Food banks in New Jersey and in many other parts of America are running out of food.

10 to 11 percent are collecting food stamps. That would mean 32 million people. I think there are even more people elgible.

Food prices are a problem right now and food shortages and hunger are going to be problems in the US.

We need to grow more food locally and naturally.

Neil Lori

Anonymous said...

Oh and kitchens and refrigerators have to be closely regulated! Can;t have people practicing unregulated hunger reduction or preparing--back alley salads! Those unregulated cooks are a sourve of many botched meals! The illegal immigrants need their hunger needs met as well--our city is a sanctuary city and provices reduced hunger insurance to all commers!

Orlov--you magnificent bastard this is great!

Think of why there is communications law and health care law--next it will be clothes law and food law and bread law for simple torts and contracts not enought to manage boondoggles!

Daniel said...

For the first time I make the connection between Dmitry and Pohl & Kornbluth's classical satirical SF novel "The space merchants" from the 50's.

Pohl had worked in the advertising business and the book is a scathing but extremely funny look at these future master-of-the-universe who are in control of everything and everyone (including the president of the USA, school lunches, workers in banana republics, the ordinary consumer's mind etc.).

writtenwithwit said...

Great synopsis.

I wrote something about health insurance reform but I like yours better; more original.
http://writtenwithwit.blogspot.com/2009/08/health-reform.html

Farmer Mark said...

The anaogy is perfect, as usual. I persoally think getting single payer going could help with a soft landing on this little Peak Oil thing we got going.

Neil...
"Food prices are a problem right now and food shortages and hunger are going to be problems in the US.

We need to grow more food locally and naturally."

Neil Lori

Farmer Mark...
Id settle for just locally and reasonably. One of our budding candidates for MI Governer is proposing a rezoneing board for Detroit to promote agriculture down town. Now how about Flint, Saginaw, Benton Harbor....

Farmer Mark
Fennville MI

KDelphi said...

Great stuff...

Anonymous said...

I had an odd dream that I worked in a grocery store and escorted people out who could not pay after their groceries were bagged.They were polite when I kept the food,I let them keep items like tomatoes and gave the child a lollipop since they were crying.It was nonstop all day, baggers put the food back unless I saw some ice cream that needed to go back right away,the dream did not seem strange it was like a trip to the doctor when the glass door lady gives you the cost for treatment and paperwork to sign.

Sabretache said...

Absolutely bloody hilarious!

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"But even more importantly, who do you want your children to be when they grow up: lowly, overworked, underpaid government bureaucrats..."

I lived in DC too long to believe this line. Gov workers get better health insurance, er, I mean hunger insurance then the rest of us prols. Screw the gubmint.

Pangolin said...

The new bureau of hunger quality management is issuing certification standards for Food Care workers. Serving at table requires a four year nutritional science degree (NS). Busboy and dishwasher positions require a two year nutritional hygiene assistance (NHA) certificate that doesn't really serve as a stepping stone to the four year degree.

Cooking food, due to the inherent dangers of poisoning, bacterial infection and poor nutrition provided to clients will require a four year food science degree (not to be confused with the NS) a two to three year cooking science course requiring repeated memorization of recipes and finally another two year internship where the Chef doctorate (CD) candidate is handed his first knife and skillet and prepares meals under supervision in a teaching kitchen. Cooking by those not licensed by the CD board is punishable by two to five years in your state prison.

The shortage of certified CD's relative to the population has been noted and complaints about the high prices of cooked food need to be balanced with the expense that CD's undertake to obtain their license. Public complaints about assembly line fare are fatuous given the fact that for merely double the usual cooking fee a patron can obtain an individually cooked meal. Serving size and menu remain entirely at the discretion of the CD as he is the Chef after all.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant again Mr. Orlov. One can also think of "Police Protection Insurance" and "Fire and Rescue Insurance" and enjoy days of great sarcastic comedy... try it.

Dr. Doom said...

Ha ha ha, my comment word verification is "sucker"! Is this just a coincidence?

Dmitry, this is great humor. Perhaps we can extend the satire and start typing up lists of people's names, like they did in the French revolution, and posting them at the big insurance companies, as a practical joke of course, if caught. They would of course laugh or deride it all as so much class resentment, all the while reading to see if their names are on the list!

nosuchthingasshould said...

For privatized everything,read 'Privatopia' by John Robb. Scary and already happening.

Anonymous said...

I bet this would be extremely profitable since hunger would be automatically considered a pre-existing condition!

Lance Michael Foster said...

At this point, we need to forget about the top national political leaders doing much, or even much at the state level (though that might change). We also can’t think of ourselves as survivalists with a bunker mentality ..OR as isolated farmsteads…although the folks here aren’t as much gun-toting compound-oriented, still, thinking of yourself as an isolated farmstead riding out the end of the world isn’t that different.

Yes, what about the guy who dies in Act One, Scene One? What about all the unburied dead, and the mad, broken souls wandering about?

We do need to put the major focus on local and community governments: run for office, create collaboration among interests and nonprofits, etc. Collaboration is key.

During the various collapses over the thousands of years and in war-torn countries, all over the world there seem to be two basic models that can be maintained: sedentary agricultural villages and pastoral nomadic traders.

In good times, these two ways of life complement each other through trade and provide things the other doesn’t produce. The villages produce things like grains, vegetables, iron, etc. while the nomads produce meat, hides, salt, and serve to transfer exotic goods between sedentary areas. Villages grow into city-states and monasteries, but the central feature is sedentarism.

Variations of pastoral nomadism include dedicated traders, wandering craftsmen, and liminal “in-between” folks like Gypsies, entertainers, holy men/women, and various rascals and madmen (hey, there’s a question– what about all the people driven mad by loss of loved ones, livelihood, and the world they thought they understood?)

In bad times, the nomads blossom into horse-barbarians that raid the villages, and the villages become fortified city-states under the control of warlords, some of whom look to build empires…

This seems to be the pattern from time immemorial for the greater part of humankind.

In blogs like Orlov's, Sharon Astyk's and John Michael Greer's, they provide the essential building blocks for a farmstead-community-sedentary village culture. Most dystopian blogs focus on aspects of the sedentary village or city-state or monastery.

Where are the blogs for the nomads? The Pastoralists moving between summer and winter pastures? The sea pirates? The future horse-barbarians? The Gypsy caravans and circuses of acrobats and curiosities…hmmm, there’s a niche for someone to explore…dystopian nomadism…beyond Mad Max.

As one of my patron saints, St. Mark Twain, said: “”History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

If anyone wants to start a religion of animistic horse-barbarians, it's a good time to start.

subgenius said...

Lance,

Google "Sail Transport Network"

Dmitry himself lives on a boat that is pretty much ideal for a future as a nomadic coastal trader

Lance Michael Foster said...

wayyy cool, subgenius!! I like it!

not being a sailor myself, though loving the ocean, I am looking at seasonal rounds of movement through different resource areas like our Paleolithic ancestors...

david said...

Hi Dmitry, greetings from the communist state of the UK where we suffer under the yoke of our terrible NHS death camps.

Those bastards cured me without a by-your-leave of a broken pelvis, elbow, wrist, shoulder, skull and several ribs after falling 30 feet off a roof while drunk.

Also, my mother has been given an artificial ankle joint, presumably in some secret plan to create a secret cyborg army.

They have also been giving her a series of operations in which they have been scooping out loose cartilage from her knee, supposedly so that she can keep walking, however I suspect that they are just implanting the control gear that will make her kill on command.

If only we had rid of this terrible system of socialised healthcare, that obviously must be curing the poor only for some secret and nefarious purpose, possibly involving alien lizards.

I mean, why else would a society want to look after the general health of all its citizens?

Anonymous said...

An instant classic.

Keenan said...

Dimitri & all:

I wouldn't be surprised to see such a plan seriously proposed. I'm sure you've all received those pitches to insure your waterline, sewer line, gas line, pipes-inside-your-home, electrical wiring, etc.

Gambling at least delivers the payoff if you beat the odds. The insurance seller is highly motivated to artfully finesse his way to escape the contractual promise-to-pay.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Funny post, but I wanted to resurrect an old topic with an update. In your January 26 post about boondoggles, you posted the following:

"Once you understand the principles involved, boondoggling will come naturally. Let us work through a sample problem: there is no longer enough gasoline to go around. A simple but effective solution is to ban the sale of new cars, with the exception of certain fleet vehicles used by public services. First, older cars are overall more energy-efficient than new cars, because the massive amount of energy that went into manufacturing them is more highly amortized. Second, large energy savings accrue from the shutdown of an entire industry devoted to designing, building, marketing and financing new cars. Third, older cars require more maintenance, reinvigorating the local economy at the expense of mainly foreign car manufacturers, and helping reduce the trade deficit. Fourth, this will create a shortage of cars, translating automatically into fewer, shorter car trips, a higher passenger occupancy per trip and more bicycling and use of public transportation, saving even more energy. Lastly, this would allow the car to be made obsolete on about the same time line as the oil industry that made it possible.

Of course, this solution does not qualify as a boondoggle, so it will not be seriously considered."

You were right. Cash for Clunkers is a first rate boondoggle which not only convinced people to buy more new cars, with the huge energy costs of making them, they scrapped the old cars so that cheaper transportation in the form of older vehicles is more scarce, repairing the current older cars is harder because all those parts were scrapped, the newer cars will last longer, making oil dependence last longer, AND they used tax dollars to fund it. I guess no one can boondoggle like the government. I wonder what their health care boondoggle will look like.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the current system is bad. But I think socialized medicine would quicken the collapse and make it more miserable when it happens.

I'm not trying to start a general discussion on socialized medicine, I'm just saying that with more people dependent on a health system that I think will be worse (rationing, fewer doctors, etc.) I fear the impact on normal people will be worse. Sure, if there is massive unemployment, our current employer-based system will be shattered. That's why I think the current system needs fixing. But having a Soviet-style medical system will be worse.

Dr. Doom said...

I think few people realize that the fine roadways and highways will disappear along with their automobiles. This is because asphalt is just as much a product of oil refining as gasoline or diesel. Asphalt is much cheaper than cement, so don't expect too many cement roadway replacements. Rather, expect gravel, and slower speeds, which I suppose will go hand-in-hand with horse and buggy transport, assuming horses make a comeback.

Anonymous said...

Looking on the positive side, a reduction in consumption of increasingly scarce raw materials will be positive. This crisis also presents a unique opportunity for alleviating overpopulation, which is a problem at the root of our troubles. The world of humans has lost its ability to control population -- that is more disastrous and more central than running out of oil, metals, etc.

Anyway, I think some balance will be restored. And if people think they have been promised a longer and better life, they should look at who made those promises. They were always empty promises based on constant growth.

Anonymous said...

The Cash for Clunkers idea is a perfect symbol of Obama's administration. Instead of addressing the real problems, including the oil problem (which is prominent), they want people to BUY MORE CARS! This would be amazing if it weren't also expected.

I am still waiting on Obama's mass transportation and agriculture plans. He has none, I suspect.

Orlov's Equation, namely Obama = Gorbachev, is turning out to be very accurate.

Expect a disaster, folks. Or rather, expect Obama to continue contributing to the disaster which is happening anyway.

Andrew said...

I would laugh more, if I hadn't come across this link:
http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/what-hunger-insurance-could-teach-us-about-health-insurance/

These guys use hunger insurance in a serious discussion to imply that Americans shouldn't have national health care.

End of Empire - next stop.

EW said...

Hi, great post. Someone posted a link to your blog on my site as I've just posted about this too. Not as funny though! Pleased to have discovered your blog.

EW

cb said...

I was rereading Remnick's "lenin's tomb" and was struck by howmuch the clinton bush ii years resembled the Brezhnev era with the appropriate ways to be corrupt and inflated statistics showing how wonderful everything is going

auntiegrav said...

Yes. Great stuff again, Dmitry.
Thank you.

There are actually some 'direct-to-consumer' hunger insurance providers; they are called "CSA farms".
It used to stand for "Community Supported Agriculture" but maybe we should change it to "Communist Supported Agriculture"...?

life insurance broker Toronto said...

Hello Dmitry, thanks for the post you really made me laugh. On the other hand I quite agree with David from UK. I am Canadian and I really can't complain about our insurance system as I always received a proper madical care whenever I needed. Besides, our system is less costly than the American one and covers 100% of the Canadian population.

Take care,

Lorne

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kollapsnik said...

Re: previous comment

Almost clicked "Reject" but then realized that this bit of comment spam is actually apropos. What if you have trouble affording your hunger insurance premium? Well, then, of course a payday loan is the answer!

ביטוח said...

"HunGER Insurance" that is mind blowing stuff and funny also.

ביטוח רכב

Unknown said...

Y'all talk to ma good friend T Boone Pickens about Thirst Insurance now, ya hear?

Stanislav Datskovskiy said...

Minor nitpick: only noblemen were deemed worthy of the original Bastille. Commoners who rocked the boat were broken on the wheel, drawn and quartered, etc.

coner said...

One of the most misunderstood quotes in history is ( And what makes these peasants so revolting is that they are all fat—from eating cake instead of bread, just as Marie Antoinette had suggested.]

The real truth is that "cake" was not the pastry, but the burnt residue that is left in the oven after baking bread in brick ovens. So basically "cake" is burnt bread and flour that was "Caked" onto the old stone ovens....

parkslopegigilo said...

I came across this on Google news,I believe it's true but it's still hard to comprehend:

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-food-waste-nrdc-20120821,0,7810321.story

Jeff said...

A two week vacation? How european! Enjoy it.

Bukko Canukko said...

As funny as when I read it the first time! And even sadder, in light of all the BS that's happened since then. Thank goodness in the socialist medical concentration camp that is Canada, people don't even have to think about health -- I mean "hunder" -- insurance. Only applies in the United States and other Third World countries.

Ryan said...

Does this come with an extended family plan?

izzit said...

It seems that a stock plan invested in food commodities will be the only way to afford those commodities when speculation drives the price through the roof. I suspect that as an American, my health insurance would also be funded by my investments in exclusive medical technologies, if I were wealthy & wise enough to afford such a plan.

Massimiliano Rupalti (Rupo) said...

In Italian:
http://ugobardi.blogspot.it/2012/09/assicurazione-sulla-fame.html

:-)

wrightrichard007 said...

I'm having a hard time believing that this article is real ha. But if it is, then I'm going to start campaigning for hunger insurance in Calgary! Thanks for the article.

Simon Martin said...

Haha, If this were real, I might just have to find some edmonton insurance brokers to get me a sweat deal. Haha, keep up the good work!