Here in UnitedLand, people consider fried chicken to be a very important part of a good life. So important, in fact, that we have a strange set of laws surrounding the purchase of it.
As long as you can convince your employer to offer chicken benefits, you can elect to receive a portion of your income tax-free as fried chicken rather than as dollars. Great deal, huh?
Shielding a portion of employee income from taxes is good for business and good for employees, so there is a powerful incentive for most employers, especially those large enough to deal with the paperwork, to offer chicken benefits. Since most employers are not themselves in the fried chicken business, they each contract with various fried chicken providers (FCPs) to offer chicken plans to their employees. →
This arrangement has been in place for many years -- so long, in fact, that most people in UnitedLand have forgotten what it is like to purchase fried chicken on their own, and many people have become anxious about their supply of fried chicken:
"What if I lose my job?"
"What if I switch jobs and my new employer does not offer chicken benefits?"
"What if buying chicken on my own is too expensive?" →
Sometimes when people lose their jobs in UnitedLand, they go without chicken for a while. They keep their cable TV and cell phones and cars, because they pay for those directly and they aren't tied to their jobs. But signing up for a new FCP when you have no job and you’re living off savings or unemployment... that just feels wrong to a lot of people.
But eventually, after enough time passes, you need chicken.
In fact, if you’ve gone a long time without chicken, and then you sign up for an all-you-can-eat FCP, you tend to consume a lot more chicken than the average person. FCPs eventually got wise to this. People who joined after going a long time without a chicken plan tended to drive up costs, so FCPs raised prices on those with what they termed “pre-existing chicken deficiency”. Sometimes they refuse to sell plans to these people at all, because selling chicken plans at high prices is frowned upon in UnitedLand. →
Luckily, UnitedLand is covered with eating establishments referred to as “chicken rooms”. If you really need chicken, you visit a chicken room and eat all the chicken you want. If you have an FCP, they pay your bill for you. If you don’t, you eat free. But the fried chicken in chicken rooms is not particularly good.
Recently, as you know, the chicken situation in UnitedLand has come under intense political scrutiny. Given the anxiety most people have about their access to good fried chicken, proposals have been put forward to create a Public FCP that offers chicken plans to everyone at a low, low price. Predictably, the private FCPs have balked:
“How can we be expected to compete over the long term with an entity that can run a deficit every year?”
But really, once everyone has access to public fried chicken, who cares? •