I read that successful people build on success, so I took a break from my thesis in 21st Century Political Nuttitude to write another educational blockbuster. (More)
I’m sure several major film studios almost thought about calling me this week. My last screenplay, Tribalism and You Too, packed in all of the elements for blockbuster success. It had big, exciting action scenes and a touching romance. Plus it was a sequel to Tribalism and You and everyone knows sequels are Hollywood gold.
Mrs. Squirrel agreed that it had those elements, and said maybe I haven’t heard from any film studios yet because my first two screenplays didn’t have any room for product placement: where a character eats or drinks or drives or uses some brand name product, as a subtle way to convince viewers to buy the same thing. So I’m working on another screenplay and I’m sure this will be my big breakout….
[Stirring sports music behind FADE IN to UNCLE JACK squirting sponsored sports drink into his mouth as he pedals sponsored bicycle up a hill. PUSH IN to EXTREME CLOSEUP as he feels the energy boost. FAST CUTS to his legs pumping, speedometer climbing, as music swells and then goes silent. We hear only his breath and the sound of his tires on the road before a thud as a passing car knocks him into a ditch.]
[Somber music behind HOSPITAL EXT. CUT to HOSPITAL ROOM. UNCLE JACK lies in bed, his leg in a cast, holding a letter. TOMMY and FATHER are at door.]
TOMMY: You’ll get better, Uncle Jack. I know you will.
[TOMMY and FATHER leave. UNCLE JACK looks at letter. PUSH IN to show the word “Cancelled.”]
UNCLE JACK: [Looks up at ceiling.] I’ll be bankrupt.
NARRATOR: And maybe he will, but at least he has his freedom. Let’s talk about [dramatic pause, ad reverb] Elitism and You.
[Opening credits roll over footage of OLDER MAN carrying Gadsden Flag in political march. EXTREME CLOSE UP as he drinks sponsored sports drink. As credits end, PUSH IN until only logo is visible. PULL BACK to show TOMMY handing same drink to TAMMY in HOSPITAL CAFETERIA.]
TAMMY: How is he?
FATHER: They had to do surgery to repair his knee and leg. He’ll need a lot of time to recover.
TAMMY: [Sips sponsored sports drink.] But he has health insurance, right? So at least they’ll pay for it.
TOMMY: [Shakes head.] The company canceled him. When he applied, he didn’t tell them he rides his bicycle. But he printed fine, they said.
NARRATOR: [Chuckles.] No, Tommy. They explained that the policy required him to disclose any exercise program listed in paragraph eleven on page seventeen of the application packet. Your Uncle Jack called that the fine print.
TOMMY: [Looks up.] You again?
NARRATOR: Yes, Tommy. Your Uncle Jack was a fully informed, rational actor in a free market.
TAMMY: [Rolls eyes.] Yeah, right. He bought crappy health insurance because he didn’t know it was crappy. Because they hid the crap in that fine print.
[TOMMY looks at FATHER. FATHER raises his eyebrows in amusement.]
NARRATOR: Now now, young lady. Does your mother know you talk like that?
TAMMY: As a matter of fact, she does. Mom taught me to be honest, unlike that crappy insurance company.
[TOMMY covers his mouth as he laughs and sprays sponsored sports drink. FATHER shakes head and reaches for a napkin.]
NARRATOR: The insurance company was honest. They included all of the relevant information in the application package.
TAMMY: Sure they did. In a big thick booklet they knew no one would read. But I’m sure they told him all about the low, low premiums.
NARRATOR: Of course they did.
TAMMY: And that’s why we need the rules in the Affordable Care Act. So people know what they’re really buying and don’t get scammed by crappy insurance companies and fine print.
NARRATOR: No, Tammy. Only elitists think government knows better than ordinary people. Progressives have to “accept that government doesn’t know what’s best for everyone. That people can decide what coverage they need and can afford. A strong marketplace offers choices for every wallet. Obamacare’s rules curtail those choices.”
[TAMMY takes a deep breath as if about to yell. TOMMY looks at her, shakes his head, and looks up.]
TOMMY: You’ve obviously never heard of Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky’s Nobel Prize-winning prospect theory.
TOMMY: Laissez faire economics is based on the assumption that Uncle Jack is a fully informed and rational economic actor or, more precisely, that some Uncle Jacks will make some mistakes and others will make other mistakes and those mistakes will balance out to yield a Pareto optimal allocation of resources.
NARRATOR: I see you’ve been studying, Tommy.
TOMMY: Or reading fiction. The problem, as Kahnemann and Tversky discovered and thirty years of subsequent research has proven, is that those mistakes won’t always balance out. When people make decisions involving risk and uncertainty, they tend to make consistent mistakes like weighing short-term costs too heavily as compared to long-term benefits. Uncle Jack saw the low, low premium and didn’t fully consider how much that might cost him if he had a serious injury or illness.
NARRATOR: But Uncle Jack made his own choice, Tommy. That’s freedom!
TOMMY: Did he? Or was he steered to a bad choice by an insurance company that knew how to manipulate people by talking about low, low premiums and hiding the costs in the fine print? That’s what the Affordable Care Act was designed to stop.
NARRATOR: And that’s elitism, Tommy.
TOMMY: No, elitism is a system that favors the elites. [Stands. Music starts very quietly.] Like a system that lets rich insurance companies hire clever marketers to write ads and clever lawyers to write policies so the rich insurance company gets even richer while my Uncle Jack goes bankrupt. [Lifts finger dramatically as music builds.] That is elitism!
NARRATOR: But what about … freedom?
TAMMY: [Joins music, singing with Janis Joplin-esque growl.] “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose/Nothin’ don’t mean nothin if it ain’t free, now now….”
[TOMMY, FATHER, and OTHERS in cafeteria lift bottles of sponsored sports drink and join in singing.]
ALL: “Na-na-nah na-nah na-nah-na, na-na-nah na-nah na-nah/Those free markets they just ain’t free”
[Music continues over closing credits.]
Product placement and a big musical ending. The studios will be calling any minute now. I just know it.
Good day and good nuts.