Thursday, August 27, 2009

Health For Sale

This column is too controversial for some readers. Last week I compared President Obama’s 1,000 plus page proposal for our nation’s health care to a clogged freeway with no exits. I still like that analogy, but naturally everyone does not agree with me. After the column appeared in the paper someone suggested to me that my opinion, now made public, was biased because of my occupation. They had even written a letter about it.

This person told me that because I am an insurance agent I never should have written about the government’s attempted takeover of our health care system – or at the very least, I should have mentioned what I do for a living.

I like the English language – both spoken and written. I try to never be misunderstood, just ask my family and friends. I am certain that I drive them crazy as I constantly seek the right word, and all too often suggest a better word for my conversation partner. I will seek clarity to the point of annoyance. Welcome to my strange little world. But last week I may have failed in that area. It wasn’t what I wrote in my column, it’s what I didn’t.

I should have disclosed that people can purchase health insurance from me. This is my fortieth column (counting the twelve that appeared in the “Minneapolis Star-Tribune), and I’m pretty sure that this is the first time that I have mentioned how I make my living. That has been by design. Newspapers have advertising departments and this column is not ad space – so I have chosen not to take advantage of my editor’s good graces by selling my wares in these six-hundred words. I will not change that. Nor am I likely to change my perspective – but know this for sure: this column will never be a place to protect my personal interests by promoting a position in which I seek to pad my pockets.

But I wondered – have some of my past columns been tainted by my own dark secrets? It’s time to come clean. A couple years ago the “Minneapolis Star-Tribune” ran my column on the shameful way people litter. Well, to be perfectly honest I have littered myself. Occasionally I will spit my gum out the window of my truck – but only in unpopulated areas when no one is looking. I’m trying to quit.

Once or twice in this space I have expressed my displeasure with the way smokers are being treated as second-class citizens. I don’t smoke, but I do keep a box of candy cigarettes in my desk for fun – so I guess in a way I was being biased. Sorry.

My column about turning fifty years old was just a thinly veiled attempt to get more birthday cards. I’m embarrassed to tell you that it didn’t work. My story about the mythical man in the icehouse is the first part in a book series I am planning: Jerry and the mystery of the vending machines.

When I wrote about the Scott County Fair a few weeks ago I didn’t mention that my wife enters a lot of stuff (baked goods and vegetables) in the fair. I guess this could be perceived as promoting her seasonal hobby. I’ll be more careful next year (the fair, just outside of Jordan, is usually held the 4th weekend in July – watch this space).

I understand that there are three things you are never supposed to talk about because they are too controversial. I have covered politics; next I may tackle religion – but the third one? No thanks.

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