Monday, June 22, 2009

Single Payer Is Like A Beer Run

It is said that folks should write about what they know. I know about this due to my wonderfully checkered past. Knowing that no metaphor is exact, take from it what you will.

It's Saturday night in the East Rademacher Mountains section of the Mojave Desert. There's an encampment of maybe 150 dirt bike riders and their ladies and kids and dogs. They've been there since morning, some since Friday night. The day has been spent with various groups of friends riding their bikes all over the place. Many hundreds of miles have been covered, mostly to Charlie's Place on the Trona Road, the only bar and burger joint for fifty miles that can be accessed without any of that damned pavement, and back. Many tanks of gas have been burned and all the knobbies have a little less rubber on them. There have been a few spills, maybe one or two that needed a little group attention to get a pickup to haul a broken bike or rider. Bragging rights have been won and lost. Everybody is filthy and tired.

And happy. Life is good.

Business has been attended to. There's a pig and beef and a turkey in the ground over a slow fire for Sunday. Campfires are lit and folks are wending their way from one to another to visit. There's lots of talkin' loud and tellin' lies and laughter. It's party time.

And, due to mass consumption all day, beer, soda, and ice are running low. There's only so much you can put in a pickup. Those pesky motorbikes, the excuse for all this after all, take up a lot of room. There's still plenty of water, but that's for dogs and radiators and washing hands and faces and does not a party make.

What to do, what to do.

It's pretty obvious: go get more beer. The nearest store is in Ridgecrest, forty miles away by paved road, ten by dirt road. They don't deliver.

There's two choices. The first is that everybody goes and gets their own. That would be fifty pickups full of drunk and dirty desert riders in a convoy, fifty sets of headlights coming out of the desert into town in a big cloud of dust. It's just possible that some townie might see this, think it's some sort of invasion, and wake up Barney Fife of the Ridgecrest PD who would go out and have a field day raising some serious revenue for the town. If he didn't get stuffed into the nearest garbage can, that is, which could lead to the involvement of the county sheriffs and Highway Patrol and lead to serious overcrowding of the local jail and tow yards. Not to mention the folks at the camp who not only won't get any beer, but then have to figure out how to get themselves and all their gear back home in time to go to work on Monday.

Even if our happy campers go into town on their own individual schedules, some of them are bound to get picked off by the law, or run off the road and get stuck, or something.

No, this option simply won't do.

The other option is a little harder to coordinate, but it's better for all concerned.

I think you would have trouble finding fifty designated drivers at a shindig like this, but it's almost certain you could find one. I won't go into the statistical probability of finding a sober person who also has a valid driver's license and won't swing with the money at an affair like this, but one such is not out of the question. A low BAC driver is an acceptable substitute. One DUI is better than fifty, in any case.

Driver found, we need an empty pickup with two working headlights, some gas in the tank, four tires with air in them, and a battery that will start the truck for the return trip. A windshield and a valid registration sticker would be nice, but not essential. Done. I've actually seen that combo be pretty hard to round up in the desert in the middle of the night, but mostly I just threw that in as a study of the kind of stuff logistics people have to think about. Heh.

Here's the coordination part: if folks wanta drink, they gotta pay.

A collection is taken up. The driver, with a coupla helpers and a pocketful of cash, wobbles off into the night. The beer run is on.

Some folks won't have much money and some folks will have plenty. Everybody wants something different from the store, but that's just too damn bad. There will be beer and soda and ice, brand names be damned, whatever the store has. And one box of diapers or Depends (I never quite understood the 'Depends' part when I was younger. I do now!) The driver will get what he can get, which will be plenty even if not too much, and everybody will get something to slake their thirst and keep the party going. Some folks will get more than they paid for and some will get less than they paid for. Some folks will contribute money and not need or expect anything, and some won't kick in anything unless they are made to, but will expect a full share or more, and they will be the ones who bitch the loudest if they don't get exactly what they want. There are also people who brought more beer than they could possibly consume and won't share with others and will still want some of the proceeds of the beer run. Such is the nature of life and people.

The point of the beer run is to do the most good for the most people. There are always going to be folks on all the fringes and we have to take care of them, but the point of the exercise is directed squarely at the middle: you pay, you get.

Thank you for wading through this and here's my point about single payer:

Everybody kicks in. Everybody gets health care. The less fuss about who gets the money and who pays it out, the better.

One other thing - I hesitate to use the phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need", but nobody in their right mind would call a motorcyclists' beer run socialism! Might be fun ta watch if they did!


SWSwarthout said...

Saw this before. Good start, but the runner did not charge overhead and you did not require the nation to participate or Mormons to buy beer.

SWSwarthout said...

Saw this before. Good start, but the runner did not charge overhead and you did not require the nation to participate or Mormons to buy beer.

deuddersun said...

Heh, the point is, everybody does participate, whether they want to or not. I mean, what righteous biker is ever gonna deny a thirsty Brother or Sister a cold one? And once that truck gets back with the goods, those who didn't wish to participate will start to wish they had when they see everybody-else slugging brew and partying their asses off. Guess what? Someone will walk over and hand them a cold can of suds. My money says next beer run that guy will be more than happy to kick in a few scheckels.

Oh, the soda is for the Mormons. ;-)

Gordon said...

The runner gets gas money. Overhead, but in our ideal socialist utopia, no profit. :)

The Mormon is probably the driver. See "sober". Heh. He is deserving too and will probably not get soda, but Horchata or something else with no caffeine in it.

Gordon said...

And Steve, my little post was a metaphor for the nation. When I am Emperor (EOTUS) effrybody vill be reqvired to participate! Except, of course, those who choose to secede which will be good for the economy as the "taker" states will no longer have their hands in the "makers" taxpayers pocket. I will invite the South and Whoever to do so with The United States' blessings. The last time we stopped them so as to preserve the Union and it has been a financial disaster and a social nightmare ever since. We learned our lesson last time. :-)

deuddersun said...

"The last time we stopped them so as to preserve the Union and it has been a financial disaster and a social nightmare ever since. We learned our lesson last time. :-)"

Amen to that! And they can take their insane religious ideas with them!