#752: The Reporter, the Professor and Me

February 15th, 2017

“It’s with a heavy heart,” the e-mail read, “that I tell you that my endeavor as a freelance journalist is in its final months.”

It was one of those guy-joke e-mails. A bit sarcastic, but with a bit more truth in the words than anyone wants to confront. He’s sort of like that.

He’s one of those buddies who feels fresh and new and then you’re reminiscing about that time that thing happened and oh man that was hi-LAR-ious and you realize you’re talking about George W. Bush’s first term.

And he’s one hell of a crime reporter.

He’s the type of guy the supply-siders say they want. He struck out on his own, hustled, created a niche for himself and is in every way the example of what an entrepreneur should be.

But economic freedom and the ability to get his bum ankle checked out are likely going to be incompatible notions. Despite airy promises and pledges of a bigly yuge much much super-good repeal-and-replace, an American small businessman and entrepreneur is going to slog it at a 9-5 because the numbers don’t stack without Obamacare.

I’ve known the professor for longer than I’ve known the reporter. I’ve known her since freshman year of college. She’s happy and razor-sharp funny and always seems like she’s four coffees ahead of you. More energy in an hour than I have in a week.

Her PhD dissertation was on the role of black identity in modern German culture. When she’s in town and we grab those too-rare coffees, she confesses people treat her nicer in a land scarred by Hitler than in our home country. The usual American experience. Security guards lingering when she’s at the jewelers. Checkout lane smiles for previous grocery shoppers turning flat when they see her skin.

She’s doing the professor dance right now, the intra-national hikes between whatever universities will keep her on for a year or two ever-dangling that phantasmal carrot of “tenure track” for a semester before yanking it away.

She was teaching at University of Illinois-Chicago and at Northwestern and giving surveys by phone at night when she slipped on the ice. Her leg was shattered in five places. She’ll have a plate and six metal screws embedded in her body for the rest of her life.

Obamacare. She paid $5,000. She doesn’t know how much it would have been otherwise, just that the anesthesiologist alone would have been $90,000. February marked two years since the slip. We’re meeting for another coffee when she’s back in town this month. She’s walking there.

In the early 2010s, I went to the dentist for the first time in four years. They had to do so much work, they broke it into three visits. I had been working that whole time and had been self-insured that whole time. All I could afford before Obamacare was major medical.

We hear that there will be a replacement and it will be better somehow, believe me it will be the best bigly yuge. But we also hear it will be returning control to the economic forces that made freedom unaffordable, charged $90K for gas, kept me from getting fillings for the amount of time between Olympics.

I came not to praise Obamacare, but to bury it. And to hope that whatever the bigly yuge replacement will be, that its impact is even a fraction of what we’re losing.

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