I had thought that the burlesque comic opera The Agony of Paul Ryan, Genius had closed on the night in 2012 when Joe Biden laughed the zombie-eyed granny starver off the stage during their debate. (That was the night that Ryan demonstrated that he knew it snowed in Afghanistan in the winter.) But I had not reckoned with his many fanboys among the kept political press. He ascended to become Speaker of the House, largely because nobody else wanted the job after John Boehner got kicked to the curb by the crazy people.
Now he is out there pimping the dungheap that is the new healthcare reform bill as though Mitch and Murray from downtown were lighting his pants on fire. He even lost the suit coat and broke out the PowerPoint on Thursday. It was like watching something on cable access late at night, or a flop-sweaty rookie substitute teacher, and it was hilarious—except for the parts where people will lose their health insurance and die, of course. And this is what he said and, peace be unto Dave Barry, I am not making it up, either:
Paul Ryan said that insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick.
This is literally how all insurance works. If someone's house burns down, some of your fire insurance money goes to help that person rebuild. If someone gets sick, some of your premium, healthy person, goes toward that person's coverage. Increasingly, I have come to believe that Paul Ryan is a not particularly bright creature from another world. Let us see if we can explain this to the lad.
Let's say that, in 1986, a 16-year-old lad loses his father to a sudden heart attack. Despite the fact that the family's construction firm is relatively prosperous due to its generous share of government contracts, the family's finances are considerably straitened. For the next two years, the young man and his mother receive Social Security survivor's benefits. Of course, these came from millions of people who had Social Security withheld from their paychecks and whose fathers did not die young due to a sudden heart attack. One of them was, say, a 32-year-old sportswriter for the Boston Herald, who had Social Security withheld from what he was paid to watch the Red Sox blow the '86 World Series, and whose father was still alive, but slipping fast into Alzheimer's. Some of his money went to make sure Paul Ryan could complete high school and go on the college and get the BA in economics that made him the smartest man in the world.
Got it now?
Also, you're welcome, rube.
This piece originally appeared at Esquire.