Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Military Honors

Throughout history, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a military leader is to make him or her the namesake of a chicken dish.  Think of General Tso, who defeated arch-rival General Gau in a fierce battle over naming rights. Or that other peerless military leader, Colonel Sanders. And I'm sure that someday, we'll all be able to enjoy a delicious meal of Petraeus Poultry.

But it's hard to ignore the irony of this. After all, "chicken" is the last thing most of these commanders would want to be associated with. So why do we accord them this particular honor?

The answer, it turns out, has absolutely nothing to do with the question. Rather, the answer is about the use of the term GAAP in financial statements. Seriously? GAAP? That stands for "generally accepted accounting principles."  That's the closest we can come to dictating how accounting should be done ... it should be "generally accepted." No right or wrong. Just do it the way most people do it. It'll be fine.

That's similar to the way health insurers decide how much they're willing to pay for a procedure. Look at the fine print. They'll pay "reasonable and customary" charges. Not "that's how much it should cost," or "that's the cost of time and materials."  Just "reasonable and customary."  Yeah, that's what the doctors down the street are getting for an MRI, so I guess it'll be ok for us too. No wonder health care costs are out of control.

The other reason for skyrocketing health care costs is, of course, our determination to violate every known guideline of preventative medicine. Bacon double cheeseburger? Yeah, gimme two. And a large order of fries. And a gallon of Coke. Better make it Diet Coke. Exercise? Yeah, I gotta carry all this crap in from the car. Oh, wait! I can just eat it in the car! All this despite the fact that beef is literally a synonym for complaint.  What's your beef?

That's why military personnel always seem so fit and trim. It's the chicken.

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