Over the next few months, our elected officials will consider 1,000+ pages of a bill labeled “Healthcare Reform”. I would suggest that, since we’re already spending a trillion dollars, we consider adding one more page to the bill that would entitle every American to a free, unlimited fuel card. Given that you can now get up to $4,500 in tax credits to buy a new vehicle, why not go ahead and gas it up on the taxpayer’s dime as well? If done correctly, this could go down in history as one of the best “Yes we Can” moments our country has ever witnessed.
The process would be relatively simple. We could start by having the badly-beaten banks issue the cards for a small fee – that’ll help solve the banking crisis. The struggling auto manufacturers should benefit as well – without high fuel costs to hold them back, many Americans will go out and buy the biggest SUV they can get their hands on. And with all the extra driving we’re guaranteed to do, everyone from repair shops to road crews will see an increase in business, helping to reduce the unemployment numbers.
Of course, no good idea is without its flaws, and as reality starts to set in I realize that my one-page addition might need a little work. If every American consumed fuel unnecessarily, we would experience record consumption that would put a significant strain on our refineries and create long lines at the gas station – there’s no way we’d be able to keep up with demand. To maintain peace among the high octane addicts, the government will have no choice but to ration the amount of fuel we can consume and limit the number of new cards that are issued. And as fuel is rationed, our anxiety as a nation will begin to rise: what if we have an emergency and need to drive – a possible life or death situation? Will we need a voucher from the Fed? And how would we pay for such a program – would we raise taxes on small businesses and those making more than $280k?
Clearly, when we work through the numbers, it becomes evident that our “Yes We Can” proposal is unrealistic – but no more so than the other thousand pages that Congress is considering. Yes, there are problems with the health care system in this country. Yes, some changes need to be made. But if we settle on a solution that provides healthcare without accountability, the consequences will be the same as the free gas card program. The health of America is at stake, and continuing to run down the path of providing free care without engaging the consumer is a dead end solution that will turn “Yes We Can” into “What’d We Do?”