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Bolsheviks in the Cornfields


Various right-wing heroes have used the healthcare debate to suggest that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats are steering us down the Potomac toward socialism.

All I want to know is when I’ll get my share of the loot. I want cradle-to-the-grave security. I’m already 66 years beyond the cradle, and a couple of guys with a backhoe are ready to dig me a nice grave somewhere, whether I want it or not.

But before I fill that grave with what are tastelessly referred to as my “remains,” what am I supposed to do about the rent, the cost of food, and a car that now refuses to take me to the Salvation Army store or anywhere else? When will the Bolsheviks march across the cornfields, certify that I’m a Hero of Labor, and dump 30 or 40 bushels of cash on the front stoop?

And who’s going to chase off the neighborhood street gang that mistakes all this cash for a mere Social Security check? The FBI and the CIA are too busy waterboarding the population of the Hindu Kush, so the Bolsheviks had better bring a police department with them. I can’t be expected to deal with street gangs at my age.

If all this socialism turns out to be nothing more than a Norman Thomas picnic in Milwaukee, I’m going to be pretty disappointed with all these Republicans who have nothing better to do than get an old-age pensioner’s hopes up. John Boehner, John McCain, and Jon Kyl will get no more campaign contributions from me, nor will any of the johns in the Minneapolis airport. I don’t care what the Supreme Court says. The Irelan Corporation will fund no more searing campaign ads to appear on endless reruns of I Love Lucy or on cable news channels where people scream at each other 24 hours a day.

In case all this chatter about money induces you to run off and check the balance in your 401(k), just forget it. I promise you that your balance is no where close to where it used to be. Let’s stay on the subject of socialist medical care. I will now bless you with a riveting story about my recent quadruple bypass surgery.

The operation was a success, although I fell asleep for two days and missed the whole thing, which lasted, I was later told, for four hours. So I really can’t report all the thrilling details. I could, however, go on at length about the benefits of my single-payer health insurance, known by all as Medicare. And despite the fact that John, John, Jon, and the rest of the Republicans have alerted me to the promise of socialism, I still retain an affection for Medicare and the treatment I received during my eight days in the hospital.

My only complaint is that shortly after I awoke from the fog of surgery, two nurses dragged me out of bed so that the three of us could enjoy a walk up and down the hallway. I thought they were crazy, but they were in charge, so I followed their orders. Then we performed the same routine every afternoon for the rest of my stay in the hospital.

These nurses told me nothing about the dangers or benefits of socialism. They never gave me an estimate of when the Bolsheviks would cross the Mississippi and distribute bales of loot liberated from various Wall Street bankers who had previously stolen these same bales from me and my fellow taxpayers.

I’m now far from the hospital, sitting on the stoop. I just walked 40 minutes on a treadmill, and now I’m scanning the distance with my Salvation Army binoculars. The Bolsheviks are out there somewhere, probably still in Illinois, marching through the stubble of last year’s cornfields. If they don’t cross the Mississippi soon, the annual flood will stop them in Moline, where they can survey the new John Deere farm equipment for 2010.

I hope they enjoy their visit to Moline, but I’m more interested in their westward progress or the lack thereof. I have bills to pay, but the floodwater may never go down. The cornfields may never get dry. And the socialist loot may never arrive.

PATRICK IRELAN is a retired high-school teacher. His most recent book is Reruns, a collection of comic short stories. You can contact him at



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