Better Health Care = Better Pizza, Papa John’s

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Ahhh, pizza night.

As I’ve written before, I love my pizza nights. They are sacred to me; a gasp of air in the stifling week. It’s an excuse not to cook, an opportunity for a martini, and an occasion to be a gluten; something I’m trying to do much less of these days.

One of my favorite places to order from is Papa John’s. I’m addicted to their special little seasoning packets – they’re like salty heroin – and my 4-year-old pleads for the “sweet treat” and mopes around if we order from somewhere else. Also, they have this early week special – it’s like a buy one, get one free deal or something – that’s wonderful. Oh, and also, their pizza is just plain good.

So, as news ran around today that Papa John’s would be forced to raise their prices if the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” –stands, I was perturbed. For a second.

See, for one thing, I hate when companies get political. I know that’s always been the case, through backroom dealings and lobbying and campaign contributions and such, but I prefer the places I patronize to be pretty nonpartisan, generally. That’s why I don’t eat at Chick-fil-A now. They were well within their rights to oppose same-sex marriage (which is antithetical to my own stance on the subject – though I fear I’ve employed a word that many on Chick-fil-A’s side won’t understand), but I feel they had a responsibility to allow that opposition to be merely implied. I don’t care that you’re closed on the Sabbath, but I do object to creating an atmosphere of hostility against gay and lesbian employees and customers, as well as the implicit endorsement of discrimination that Chick-fil-A’s leadership made.

When “Papa” John Schnatter himself announced that his opposition to Obamacare would be reflected in the total box of my online order, I was disheartened. How was I going to break it to my little girl that we could have no more sweet treats because of that mean old Papa John? I mean, I’ve got to stand on my plate of principles, after all!

According to the trade publication Pizza Marketplace, Obamacare will result in a $0.11 to $0.14 price increase per pizza, or $0.15 to $0.20 cents per order, for Papa John’s customers.

Know what? I’ll pay that. I’m OK with paying a few extra cents if it means the people preparing my food will have health care. It’s worth it to me.

One night, during a snow storm, we ordered pizza. We called ahead, and Pizza Hut said they were still delivering. Awesome. We placed the order online, and a while later, our phone rang. It was the delivery woman. She was in a Camaro, and couldn’t navigate up one of the icy hills on our road. How far were we from where she was, she wanted to know. Not far, I told her. She said she was going to hike it. I said I’d meet her half way.

I swigged some bourbon, lit a pipe, threw on a heavy overcoat and headed out into the night. We met each other on the icy road. She was nothing more than a shadow amid snowflakes; I wasn’t even sure she was human until she spoke. She asked my name. I asked hers. I signed my receipt, tripled her tip, wished her well and we went our separate ways.

Damn it, I’d be glad to pay an extra quarter if that also meant that nice lady who forwarded the snow storm could go see a doctor about the cold she got delivering my pizza. And I’ll be glad to pay a bit more so Todd, who often is prepping our pizza at Domino’s according to the little Flash “Order Tracker” graphic that pops up on the computer when we order from there, can go see someone about the carpal tunnel he’s surely developed from getting those sliced Italian sausages on the pizza just so.

If anything, the fact that these employees have been deprived of health benefits is a reflection of the fact that the cost of my pizza has been artificially low; somehow, even though my wife was herself a Domino’s employee, I overlooked the fact that my pizza was evidently being made with slave labor. I’m for an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s pizza.

So, Mr. Papa, you’re going to raise the cost of my pizza to cover Obamacare. Well, sir, I’m for it.

Though, I think there’s a bit of cost savings to be made in dispensing with those little peppercorns that I never eat, anyway.

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