Hot Dogs: Crisis in America

By: Eric Feezell

When it comes to hot dogs, Americans aren’t getting what they need.

It is estimated that over 44 million working Americans and their dependents do not have access to hot dogs, while another 38 million have inadequate or limited access. Together, these figures comprise nearly one-third of the United States population — an overwhelming chunk of Americans daily forced to ponder: what if someone I love needs hot dogs? What if I need hot dogs?

It is a vicious cycle for these have-nots. More citizens each day, already hungry and sick, are being forced into physical and economic destitution without hot dogs. Routinely will those without Hot Dog Plans (HDP’s) simply avoid the acquisition of hot dogs altogether, despite what their bodies tell them. This self-enforced neglect has culminated in higher overall hot dog costs, as those without HDP’s generally do not get hot dogs until it is too late, thus often requiring costlier forms of hot dogs. Meanwhile, the countless dollars pumped into uncompensated hot dog treatment fall in the form of higher federal taxes on the doorsteps of those who are fortunate enough to possess hot dog assurance, intensifying the economic divide such that hot dogs are fast becoming considered a luxury rather than a basic human right.

But does the hot dog problem really have to exist? The majority of hot dog-assured Americans receive their benefits through employer-instituted plans (nearly 120 million people). The second-largest sector of hot dog-assured Americans receives coverage from the government under the Hot Dog-Care and Hot Dog-Aid programs (both ultimately boons to the American taxpayer, costing billions of dollars per year to maintain). Yet for that unfortunate one-third of the population, accessibility to hot dog care is at the whim of an employer or, in the case of federally funded programs, is limited or outright denied due to strict governmentally-dictated eligibility requirements.

Whether assured or unassured, the average American is being led down a treacherous path by those in control of hot dog-supply distribution and hot dog-program management. With the price of prescription hot dogs skyrocketing in recent years, more employers have been forced to pass costs along to workers in the form of higher-premium HDP’s and smaller, less frequently distributed pay raises. Many employers are also denying workers family hot dog coverage to further cut expenditures.

In most cases, this is being done not out of desire, but necessity. Smaller businesses in particular face grim chances for survival in light of rising hot dog costs, forcing them either to lay off workers or limit coverage for existing workers — either instance driving deeper the wedge into this ever growing economic chasm. And all the while, the Hebrew Nationals and Oscar Meyers of the world are reaping the profits.

Unsurprisingly, these very same companies are backing a questionably effective approach to this national emergency in the form of Hot Dog Savings Accounts (HDSA’s), which are growing in popularity with employers. An HDSA works like a normal savings account, wherein an initial sum of money is deposited by the employer and gains interest over time. HDSA’s are helping many smaller companies cut down on monetary contributions and are even being touted by the government as a viable option for hot dog reform in the face of the hot dog crisis. But this argument is specious, at best.

What HDSA’s fail to take into account is that depending on the hot dog needs of an individual — whether, for example, one needs multiple hot dogs, needs to add chili or cheese, to upgrade from generic to premium condiments, or standard to kosher — the amount within a given HDSA simply might not be enough to cover costs. The potential success of HDSA’s relies upon the dangerously utopian premise that the need for expensive prescription hot dogs more often than not befalls the elderly, who have earned enough through employer contributions and compounded interest to cover any hot dog needs. And this is not always true.

What HSDA’s really do is lower the bar on hot dog care. When the child of a single working mother possesses a congenital condition requiring hot dogs, or when one half of a dual-income household is stricken with terminal hot dog need, daunting questions arise: are these persons to be held economically accountable for having coverage, but not having enough? And furthermore, in the end, who will pay?

Americans must ask themselves if this country is truly on the road to hot dog reform, or on a different, darker road altogether. We must look outside our own borders at alternative hot dog systems, such as to the north, where Canada has implemented Universal Hot Dog Care to staggering success. The rising costs not only of hot dogs, but of ketchup, mustard, relish, onion, and other such hot dog-related goods, can no longer be footed by the impoverished while hot dog companies grow richer and continue to wield their indomitable lobbying influence on Capitol Hill. It is time to question the relationship between the government and hot dog care, to ensure all Americans the rights of life, liberty, and everything else in this world that cannot be fully enjoyed without hot dogs.


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