Once upon a time...

...in a land far away, food insurance was provided by big, wealthy corporations.  They were members of the Really Big Business guild.  To purchase food at the supermarket, you simply showed your food insurance card to the checker and your food plan took care of the payment.  Well, at least, that was the theory.

The cost of food in this land was fairly low, but the price of food was very high.  It was the most expensive food on earth.  Most people did not understand the difference between the cost of food and the price of food.  The people equated the price of food with its quality.  The details were hidden from the people by a complicated food insurance system.  The Town Crier, whose salary was paid by Really Big Business, made no effort to inform the people of the facts.  Because the price of food was very high, the premiums for food insurance were also very high.

Many employers provided food insurance to their workers.  Because the premiums were so high, this was an expensive burden for them.  It put some companies in a competitive disadvantage.  Small Shopkeepers could not afford it at all.  People who did not get food insurance from their employers had to buy it themselves.  It was very expensive.

There were companies who tried to stop providing food insurance, or force their workers to pay more for it.  Other companies chose to move to the neighboring land where their king payed for food with taxes and the price of food was much lower.  There were Wealthy Lords who claimed "that system was evil" and the food in the neighboring land was bad, yet nobody seemed to be hungry there.  Meanwhile, some workers lost their jobs at companies who moved to the neighboring land.

Now, there were tribes in the land, called the Slackers, Deadbeats, Bumpkins and Yahoos, who believed that they should have the choice not to purchase food insurance.  They proclaimed, "we are self-reliant."  The people thought that "choice" meant either choose to purchase food insurance, or choose to pay for your own food, but that's not how it worked.

There was a rule in the land that anyone who came to the Grocer must be provided food, regardless of ability to pay.  For some Grocers, as many as half of the people had no food insurance and could not pay for their food.  These people got their food at no cost.  Sort of.  There were also people who went without food.  They would become so hungry, eventually their food bill would be huge.

To keep operating, a certain amount of money must flow through the food system.  Because so many could not pay for their food, the Grocer was forced to raise prices drastically.  Now, those people who had insurance and those who paid for their own food, also paid for the food provided to the Slackers, Deadbeats, Bumpkins and Yahoos.  This was called "cost shifting" and was one of the main reasons the price of food was so high.  The cost of food did not change, but the price of food went up.  When food prices go up, insurance premiums follow in a vicious circle.

Food insurance companies, members of the Really Big Business guild, were very wealthy and they wanted to become more wealthy.  One way was to demand big discounts from grocers and grocers had no choice but to accept them.  Another way was to find excuses to deny food payments for their policy holders.  This is a second reason food prices were so high.  After paying premiums for ten years, Mary decided to buy ice cream.  "Not allowed," proclaimed her insurance company, and kicked her off the roles.  The Grocer received no payment.  Mary was marked for life because of a taste for ice cream and was never again allowed to have food insurance.  Since the insurance companies didn't pay for all the food, the Grocer had to raise prices again and shift more of the costs to other payers.

Then, a new King came to the throne in the far-away land.  He understood this was a bad system for providing food and he wanted to fix it.  A single-payer food system would be the most cost-effective, as it was in the neighboring land.  This idea was taken off the table, however, because the King knew the Wealthy Lords would never allow it.  The people liked this idea, but nobody cared what the people thought.

The King proposed a new system with three basic propositions:
  • All the people must have food insurance
  • Food insurance companies must pay for all the food
  • The king will help the people who cannot afford insurance
Once all the food was paid for, the price of food would come down.  There would be no more cost-shifting for food in the land, and everyone would be able to buy food.  What's not to like?

Well, the insurance companies liked the first point, but didn't like the second.  They wanted all the people to buy food insurance, but did not want to pay for all the food.

The Slackers, Deadbeats, Bumpkins and Yahoos didn't like the first point.  "We are self reliant," they shouted.  "The king is taking away our choice."

The Wealthy Lords didn't like any of it.  They were getting a lot of money from the food insurance companies and Really Big Business and wanted things to stay just the way they were.  They really hated the third point.  They wanted more tax cuts instead.

Small Shopkeepers and the Grocers were intrigued by the idea that food prices would come down.  They also liked getting the King's help paying for food insurance, but Really Big Business wanted no part of it.  They were getting big profits out of the current system, and were sticking up for the food insurance companies.  After all, Really Big Business and their profits were all that mattered in this land.

The people who already had food insurance didn't like it because they were told things that were not true:
  • "There will be Starvation Panels deciding who may and may not get food"
  • "If you don't buy food insurance, you must pay a fine and go to jail"
  • "You cannot keep your current food insurance policy"
  • "The King is taking control of your food"
The Town Crier didn't understand any of it and made no effort to learn.  He was not interested in educating and informing the people.  He just wanted to please Really Big Business, his employer.  He repeated all the lies, took delight in watching all the factions fight with each other, and sought to keep everyone battling.  This increased the Town Crier's ratings and made Really Big Business happy.  As usual, the Town Crier was completely useless for the people.

Now that the King's program has been adopted, the Wealthy Lords, the Slackers, Deadbeats, Bumpkins and Yahoos and Really Big Business are all working very hard to get it revoked.  Food insurance companies are straddling the fence.  The Grocer is caught in the middle.  The Town Crier, as expected, is doing nothing at all, except keeping all the parties fighting.  The people in the land are left completely out of the discussion, as it has always been.

Will the people live happily every after?  We'll just have to wait and see what happens in Chapter Two.

Weather Statistics for January, 2011

TemperatureHigh 52.5° FLow 25.0° FMean 41.5° F
Rainfall3.51 inches
WindHigh 40 mphAverage 1.9 mphDom Dir S

South Fidalgo Station Data (See Climate page for complete climatological data)