Opinion » Bill Cope

First Federal Fowl

A central bank for dumb cluckers


This column is composed on the supposition that the highest hopes of the Teabagger Confederacy—(our new name for the Republican Party, remember?)—come to pass and that with the November elections, the Democrats lose control of the House and the Senate, and that President Obama is reduced to a hollow shell of a man.

Next, let us imagine that the "Baggers"—(as we have taken to calling them around the watercooler)—are able to make manifest the strategy on which they have hinged so much of their bombast, that they can indeed "repeal" Obama's health-care reforms and that they will certainly "replace" those reforms with some of their own.

Finally, let us assume their replacement plan will be rooted in the only—I repeat, only—alternative strategy we have heard to date from the GOTC (Gripey Old Teabagger Confederacy), that remedy being the idea recently introduced by Sue Lowden, the Bagger currently leading over majority leader Harry Reid in the Nevada Senate race. Surely you have heard by now: Ms. Lowden suggested that if normal methods of compensation such as cash, credit or insurance coverage are not available, the problems America faces in regards to everyone getting medical attention might be resolved were the uninsured to resort to a direct trade or exchange of services.

Ms. Lowden specifically mentioned chickens as a payment for medical treatment rendered. Yes, chickens. It is possible she became such a proponent of chickens as a medium of remuneration after watching—either in the original or in reruns—the Gunsmoke episode in which old Doc Adams delivered a baby in a root cellar at the very moment a Kansas twister passed overhead, and was afterward presented with a plump Rhode Island Red for his services. (It's a classic. With Matt and Miss Kitty looking on with amusement, Doc passes the chicken to Festus and declares he prefers it fried up crispy. Festus holds the bird in one hand while scratching his head with the other, and says, "Gull durnit, Math-yew! Why's it I always get stuck wit' plucking the chicken?")

Regardless of how Ms. Lowden earned her credentials as the GOTC's leading authority on reforming health-care reform, once Obama's opponents begin undoing everything he has accomplished, we can expect to see a great many doctors and other medical personnel (anesthesiologists, X-ray technicians, chiropractors, dentists, ophthalmologists, brain surgeons, etc.) with more chickens on their hands than they know what to do with. After all, one Rhode Island Red might have been sufficient payment for an obstetrician's work back in old Dodge City, but these days, a complete delivery—from the pre-natal care, all the way through the ultrasound examinations, the counseling sessions over whether Mom should go C-section or natural, up to the little warmy cap Baby wears home—is going to run somebody a lot of chickens.

And what if the treatment in question is a multiple by-pass or years of dialysis? For the sake of our discussion here, let us assign an arbitrary value of $5 as the standard dollar equivalent for any live chicken—be it R.I. Red, Leghorn or Banty—and of course payment must come in the form of live chickens. The frozen version will not do, as even a routine liver transplant or chemo regimen might run 20,000 chickens. And who has that sort of freezer space? (Also, paying off in buckets of fried chicken must be discouraged. We certainly wouldn't want to set off a run on Popeyes, would we?)

Therefore, foreseeing the need the medical community will have for live chicken containment once the GOTC plan goes into effect, we are announcing the opening of a bank designed specifically to save and grow the newly acquired wealth of chickens that will be flooding reception areas and ICU wards across the country. In many ways, the bank will look a lot like a farm—long, low barns filled with wire cages in which millions and millions of clucking hens and crowing roosters reside—but be assured, it's a bank. Let us say Dr. Joe Blow has recently performed a hip replacement and is receiving monthly installments of 400 chickens for the next 10 years. He can deposit them with us where they will accrue interest, which he can withdraw at his leisure in the form of either peeping baby chicks or eggs. And should he have the notion to barbecue one or two of his assets on a particular evening, we will provide an on-site decapitating device, all to spare the good doctor and his family the discomfort of watching the little red hen flapping headlessly around the kitchen as she bleeds out.

Obviously, many of the 40 million uninsured Americans will be unable to afford the vast flock of chickens it will take to save their lives should they be stricken with any injury or malady more serious than a stubbed toe, so we must expect to see a dramatic rise in chicken rustling. But fear not. Our security will be tight—a Fort Knox for farm fowl—and once the new, barter-friendly leaders have re-taken control of our economy, we will invest a few million chickens on lobbying efforts to get the FDIC to provide deposit insurance.

We will also offer accounts for those who traded their radiation treatments or a diabetes-related amputation for a lifetime of domestic service or some sort of professional equivalency. Depending on what has been bartered, we will send a statement to the survivor each and every time the doctor's lawn needs mowing again, the house needs repainting or the Mercedes needs washing. Should the patient not survive, his or her children will be notified that the debt passes from generation to generation, until all accounts are squared.