by Walter Brasch
Clutching newspaper clippings in one hand and a medical bag loaded with seeds in the other, my ersatz friend Dr. Franklin Peterson Comstock III, knocking down pregnant ladies, students, the elderly, and two burly construction workers who were waiting for a bus, rushed past me, leaving me in a close and personal encounter with the concrete.
"Medical emergency!" Comstock cried out. "Gang way!"
"You've returned to medicine?" I shouted after him.
"I'm going into un-medicine!" he shouted back. "I'm getting the big bucks not to operate!" This was a story too good to let by, so I gave up any hope of the 7:11 "D"-line bus arriving by 7:30, and chased after him.
"Slow down!" I panted. "You'll kill yourself!"
"No time to slow down," he said, leaving a trail of broken bodies. "There's money to be had!"
"If you kill yourself before you get to the hospital, you'll never see a cent from the insurance company." That stopped him, giving me time to catch up and catch my breath.
"I'm not operating," said Comstock.
"If you're not operating, what's the medical bag?"
"That's so I can get money from the Department of Agriculture," he replied. I'm planting lots of stuff on lots of non-productive acres, and I'm waiting for the market to drop."
"You want the market to drop?" I asked suspiciously.
"That way I can take advantage of crop insurance. Here! Read!"
A newspaper clipping revealed that Congress approved $90 billion over the next decade to assist farmers whose crops didn't yield previous production quotas. It was a sleight-of-hand change from a program that gave farmers subsidies not to grow certain crops. However, in this case, the crop insurance program primarily benefitted large corporate agribusiness industry. About 10,000 corporations are receiving more than $100,000 each, with some receiving over $1 million, according to the Environmental Working Group. Local farmers, however, are receiving less than $5,000 a year, and mostly when their crops are wiped out by floods. Also in the budget is more than $1 billion to insurance companies for "administrative" expenses.
"When the public finds out which corporations are getting all this tax-funded bonuses, they'll be outraged!" I said.