Dinner for Two Government Bureaucrats

Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

Scene:  Suburban house in metro Washington, D.C.  A GS-12 bureaucrat with the FDA arrives home and is greeted at the door by his wife.

“Hi honey, how was your day?” asks the wife, who had just gotten home from her job with the Department of Labor.

“It was great,” responds the husband.  “My food labeling task force has issued the final rule on the posting of nutrition information by pizza joints, other fast-food joints, and vending machine companies, as mandated by Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.  The rule takes effect on May 1.”

“Ooo, you make me so horny when you start citing regulations.  You’re also making me hungry.  Let’s celebrate by having a pizza delivered.”

“Sounds good,” the husband responds.  “Let’s get the usual pepperoni, a side order of chicken wings, and a big chocolate-chip cookie for dessert.  We can take care of the horniness afterwards.”

The wife says okay and orders the food on her smartphone app.  Then she asks hubby: “How many pages was the final rule?”

“One-hundred pages.”

“THAT’S ALL?” she exclaims.  “That doesn’t sound complicated enough for you to go through with your plan to quit your job and become a private consultant who charges restaurants $3,000 per day to interpret the rule and stay out of legal trouble.”

“Don’t worry, sweetie. I made sure that the rule is indecipherable to the layman.   Not only that, but think of all the variability and permutations and combinations with just pizza alone.  Slices are not uniform in size, and the pizza comes in various toppings and thicknesses.  It’ll drive pizza chains and small-time operators crazy trying to figure out the calorie count on a slice of pizza.  And when they get sued by trial lawyers, they’ll be begging me to help them.”

“Wow, nice job, you hunk of a guy.”

“Hey, I hope that wasn’t a comment on my beer belly,” the husband responds with a wink.

“Not at all, sexpot,” the wife coos while patting his belly.  “But you do have to watch your diet given your triple bypass, especially now that you’ll be quitting your job and no longer have government health insurance.”

“Well, I’m not going to eat broccoli and kale.  Besides, I’ll be covered by your health insurance.”

“Yes, you will be covered, but only while I stay with the Labor Department.  As we’ve discussed, once your consulting business gets established, I plan to start my own consultancy on labor matters.  It’s a perfect time to do this, because regulations like the ones you’re implementing are driving up the operating costs of business, which results in the businesses trying to keep wages low—which in turn causes activists to demand increases in the minimum wage and fight for the unionization of restaurant workers.  Companies will need my services in surviving the fallout from what you’re doing.”

“Not only do we have a marriage made in heaven,” says the husband, “but so does the FDA and Labor Department.”

The husband continues:  “Come to think of it, we won’t have to worry about the cost of healthcare, as we’ll be rolling in dough, since I won’t be lacking in clients.  As you know, my former coworker Pete quit the FDA a couple of years ago to become a private consultant to food companies, helping them comply with labeling regulations on packaged food.  You can walk down supermarket aisles and see that he’ll never run out of clients, as the aisles are full of products with nutrition labels.  Of course the labels have done nothing to make Americans eat healthier food.  In fact, they’ve become fatter since the labels were required decades ago.”

“Thank goodness the American people are so stupid,” declares the wife with glee in her voice.

“You got that right!”

The doorbell rings

“Speaking of stupid, says the husband, “that must be the Dominoes guy.  He probably thinks that the government is here to help low-wage workers like him.”

“Stupid indeed,” says the wife as she goes to open the front door.

- Advertisement -
Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan