I’m here to protect you from a wholesome, enduring life.
We live in a noisy, smoggy world. We compete for clean air from the moment we’re born. We compete for an adequate education in classrooms of a hundred squabbling for attention from eighty-hour-a-week teachers who just want to churn you into the next year group before they commit infanticide. We escape from those classrooms into bigger classrooms with fewer teachers and fewer of us make our way into a different eighty-hour-a-week job for lesser wage than our teachers did. We work those hours to churn out more kids who continue the competition when they take their first breath.
Naturally, you’re going to get sick at some point during all of this.
That’s a good thing.
For the rest of us.
When you get sick, you won’t find a smiling doctor with a clipboard and stethoscope leaning over you. Usually. If there is a doctor with a full set of white teeth standing there, I haven’t done my job.
There’s only so much grant funding available. So, we’ve been gradually scaling back subsidies and social benefit programs to reclaim expenditure and divert it towards throwing a lifeline to bleached coral forests or artificially inseminating the last dozen Siberian tigers. Humans aren’t endangered, there’s no argument.
That won’t stop you from arguing when I’ve refused your application for a diabetes research scheme or a rent relief package or a paid internship. The annual budget is tighter than the diet we’re recommending your morbidly obese grandson doesn’t go on because honestly, we can’t afford his attempts at cardiovascular recovery. Eat a salad instead. The sugar will cost you.
I know this. I know it inside out. I do it every day. I’m the smiling creep on the other side of the desk with the name badge, explaining that there’s a maximum percentage per program we’re permitted to give per twelve months, and this frequently runs out in April. Not me, my colleagues will be that sloppy but I’ll at least try to get it past June. I’m a friend of the people after all.
My brother doesn’t see it that way.
At least he can still see. Motor-neuron disease doesn’t take that away from you. Instead, it takes away your insurance. No pre-existing conditions, reviewed annually. Bad luck if you’re diagnosed straight after your renewal. It takes away your employment. Why deprive healthy workers of the job they deserve? They’ve made the right lifestyle choices. Or their parents did. Or their parents’ parents did. It takes away your housing. All of the above. Refused.
It doesn’t take away your wife and children. That stays even after the money dries up. After mine ran out. I’m working additional hours now to sort that out. I don’t think my application for a three-bedroom scheme is going to be approved. The accommodation fund was looking low last month. Can’t throw cash away on luxuries like fitting four people in something bigger than a one room apartment.
Keep talking to me about your problems while I wear a shiny grin on my face. I’ll keep hoping that I don’t get sick.
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