Thursday, December 17, 2009

Train Guide: Writing Legislation

With all of the analysis of the Senate healthcare reform bill, a lot of readers are writing in to ask how they could make that good of a bill themselves. Perhaps they want to make an equally great bill to give to a loved one for Christmas, or maybe they just want to see if they have what it takes to forge incredible legislation like the bill-smiths in our government. Luckily for you the Train has prepared a guide to crafting masterful legislation so that you can make a bill from the comfort of your own home! Just follow our easy step-by-step formula:

1. Choose a goal for your legislation. Is there a problem that urgently requires a solution? For the purposes of an example I'm going to use “reforming a hideously broken healthcare system” for the rest of this guide.

2. Take three or four of the most immediately obvious problems within this issue, and write commonsense solutions for them. Great job! Reform is on the way!

3. Invite people from the industry you're trying to reform to join in the process. Leave the room while they do whatever they want with your bill- I sure hope they don't add any loopholes to your reforms from step 2!

4. Now you need to lengthen the bill until it's too unwieldy for anyone to get a grip on. The proposal for the current Canadian health-care system was shorter than 50 pages- none of that for us! If you're having trouble breaking a thousand pages by using bizarre, dense language alone then you should consider taking passages from older, unrelated bills and using the “Find/Replace” function in your word processor to change the subject accordingly. With just a few clicks of your mouse the Smoot-Hawley Tariff is now the You-Someone Else Health-Care Reform Bill! Most of the sentences won't make sense anymore, but that's something we'll fix later.

5. Next, choose half a dozen people in your neighborhood who are opposed to your legislative goals, and give them free reign to edit the bill. You can refer to them as the Baucus Caucus, or the Lieberman Panel, or simply Those Douches. Step 5 isn't complete until they've all signed off on every aspect of your bill, so make sure you appease them in every way possible! You can rest assured that they'll be good faith negotiators, given their enmity to your goals and their unlimited power during this process.

6. Great job! You've made it pretty far. Now it's time for you to pick up a pen and add some more weak language vaguely addressing the issues you originally set out to fix. Perhaps you have a toned-down version of reform that might still have some place in the bill? Tentatively pencil it in, but make sure not to get your heart set on it- because now we…

7. Go back to the industry insiders and Those Douches! Run the entire thing past them again. And again. And again.

8. Print up a complete version of the bill as it stands, and take it to your local sewage processing plant. Dunk it repeatedly in the foulest substances you can find.

9. Take it to a sausage factory and run it through a meat grinder. Don’t bother sterilizing anything beforehand- in fact the more it resembles a scene from Midnight Meat Train, the better. Once you're done collecting the shredded bits of the bill and picking out the largest pieces of offal, run it through again for good luck.

10. Shoot it into space on a rocket made of radioactive waste. Guide the rocket into the Sun.

11. Use a solar panel to capture some of the energy coming back from the Sun after your rocket-bill explodes. Store the energy in a battery- we'll need it later!

12. Familiarize yourself with the principles of homeopathy as proposed by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century. Specifically, we're going to utilize the “like cures like” theory to create a homeopathic bill. Choose something which creates the same symptoms as whatever problem you're trying to solve. Health-care reform is trying to fix an expensive, under-regulated system rife with corruption which has managed to compromise portions of our government… does this sound a little bit like the military industrial complex? I think so, so for my example I'm going to use the mission statements of several large military contractors as the base for my healthcare cure. After printing them out I take the pages and place them in a large vat of water and shake them vigorously- using machines powered by the battery with the energy from our initial bill!

13. Next we have to follow homeopathic principles by diluting our solution. Take a cup of the water out and set it aside. Empty your vat and fill it again with fresh water. Pour the cup you set aside back in, and shake the entire mixture again. Congratulations, you've just finished your first dilution! Homeopathy practitioners claim that the most effective treatments are diluted in this manner sixty times. Go ahead and do that- take a cup out, drain the rest, fill it back up, mix the cup back in and shake, drain again, etc, until you've diluted it sixty times.

14. Wikipedia points out that after sixty dilutions, “on average, this would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the [material from the first dilution] to any patient.” Don't worry about that, though. Now it's time for you to pour your bill into the local water supply and deliver healthcare reform to all. You win!

I've been saving a surprise for the end of this guide: doing this would actually result in an even better bill than the one they're considering in the Senate right now. Why? Because your bill would do absolutely nothing, whereas the Senate bill is a train wreck that may end up deteriorating the state of American healthcare even further. Congratulations, you beat the Senate at their own game.

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