by Thomas Andrews, head drafter of the RMS Titanic
Mister President, when you approached me about building you a healthcare web-site, I said to myself, what is a web-site? Is it a site for one’s web? And might we build it in a shipyard?
You laughed at my antiquated manner of seeing the world, Mister President. I admit my face did turn a crimson hue.
Then you said to me, “Mister Andrews, would 300 million American dollars tickle your fancy?”
Indeed it did.
“Mister Andrews,” you said. “I implore you to make haste. We have but three-and-a-half years before we the launch this web-site.”
“That’s fine,” I said. “I built the RMS Titanic in a mere two years at a cost far, far less. I will build you a good web-site, Mister President.”
From a street vendor I procured a 1995 book called “World Wide Web Design Guide,” which seemed to me an authority in web-site construction. An intriguing tome it was, and I learned a great deal about HTML 3.0, hyperlinks and how to take full advantage of the engine called Netscape. I read the book twice, and I daresay I am now quite knowledgable.
Mister President, I toiled on your web-site for the full three-and-a-half years, each line of code a rivet in a great ship — a beautiful, grand vessel that not even God himself could sink.
When the web-site was completed at three o’clock in the morning the day before it was to be launched, I said a prayer for you. “Sleep soundly, young president,” I said. “For I have built you a good web-site, strong and true. She’s got all the hyperlinks, pages and forms you need.”
But soon after the launch, I received cables alerting me to various problems. People attempting to use the web-site were encountering all manner of inconveniences. A leak had formed, they said, resulting in a flood of error messages.
I said to my assistant, “Mister Lightoller, how many strong lads from the shipyard might we need to stop this powerful flow of error messages?”
“I know not,” he said.
“Might we ask the company that’s sending the messages to temporarily halt?”
“Aye, we can try, Mister Andrews,” he said.
Another cable reached me, this one saying that many a page were “not found.”
“Mister Lightoller,” I said. “Might we send an errand boy to fetch these missing pages?”
“Aye, we can try,” he said.
The worst news came from my assistant last week, when he duly informed me the web-site was giving faulty health insurance quotes.
“Rubbish!” I said. “The web-site was tested in Belfast with the information of at least seventy men. Now, get the web-site working, Mister Lightoller, for God’s sake, man.”
Mister President, this week you called me forth to your office.
“Why are enrollments only half of what we expected?” you said to me. “Please, I need more women and children signed up.”
You looked at me with your innocent face, and you said, “Mister Andrews. I have read the news, and I watched the hearing with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and I see it in your eyes.”
“Healthcare.gov will founder,” I said, and I begged you to assign full fault to me, which you did. I offered to return the 300 million dollars, which you rejected.
I’m sorry that I didn’t build you a stronger web-site, Mister President.