“Manumission,” said Jeremy Diseased-Rat, CEO of Data Analytic Marketetic Normalisations. The various employees sat in the conference room with him all looked first at one another and then at him.
“Bless you?” suggested Margoyle, a slight smile tweaking her thin, blue lips.
“I think that might be the name of the new Head of Suffocating Relationships,” said Stephanotte, her eyes not quite meeting Margoyles. “He’s arriving sometime this week with a mandate to look over out ex-Soviet portfolio.”
“Dimitrion has taken over Suffocating Relationships already,” said Margoyle, her eyes staring at the top of Stephanotte’s head as though wishing her gaze could trepan. “That does leave some room in Textiles and Bad Potteries, though I would have expected anyone taking them to want to take Soft Furnishing and Pillow Politics too. Which are your remit, are they not?”
“Manumission is the practice of freeing slaves,” said Jeronica. Sitting down she wasn’t noticeably taller than the men around the table, though when she’d come in her eighteen inch designer stilettos had left her towering over everybody and left small holes in the carpet wherever she walked. “It sounds like something many of our clients would be disinterested in.”
Jeremy Diseased-Rat, a fresh bruise on his left cheek-bone and a small cut weeping on his chin, nodded. “Much of what you all say is true,” he said. His voice was even and carefully modulated to get people to listen to him, and his voice coach was rumoured to spend hours teaching him to undo what alcohol and nicotine did in the first place. “We were hiring someone called Manumission, but that has been indefinitely suspended thanks to the reshuffle. There is an opening for Textiles and Bad Potteries, and…..” He paused for a moment, steepling fat, coarse fingers in front of his face while he looked over at Stephanotte. “And,” he concluded, leaving no-one around the table in any doubt that she was in trouble. “But more importantly, it is the code name for a new project that we will be starting in 2014 that I have high hopes for. As you are all undoubtedly aware, there is much political tension in the Americas at the moment, with the concepts of universal health-care being a rallying point for various factions. We have been retained to conduct a study of such health-care initiatives and produce a report on how ineffective they are, and their contribution to overall economic decay. We will be focusing on the private health-care sector and the efficiencies that a market economy brings, how it improves health-care in the long term, and how competitiveness can result in a patient not being tied into a single primary care-provider, but instead travelling the country and seeing new sights as they are shipped from one expert to another to resolve their issues. Considering the blind solely as outliers in this scenario of course.”
“Do people actually use public health care?” asked Margoyle. She made a face. “Can that really be sensible? Or healthy? You might have to sit in a waiting room with ill people, for goodness’ sake!”
“Poor people,” said Jeronica. Her tone of voice suggested that she was speaking from theory rather than experience. “I think my last cleaner might have seen a government-sponsored doctor about something. Possibly when her leg fell off.”
“People do,” said Manguy. He was near the end of the table and had been playing with his pen the whole time Jeremy had been speaking. “And some of them feel that they have no choice about this either, that they cannot afford private health care or the insurance that would get them access to it. Part of what we’ll be doing in this study is showing that their estimations of this are actually a false economy. They would do better, for example, if they abandoned eating fresh vegetables and instead used their health-care insurance to book themselves into hospital twice a year for liposuction and a crash diet. This, in turn, would then increase the amount of produce available to restaurateurs and stock farmers, which in turn brings down the cost of fast food production and so the consumer benefits all the more by being able to eat more burgers, fried chicken-like protein and faux-fish fillets.”
“You seem to know a lot about this,” said Jeronica. Her eyes fixed on Manguy, who squirmed a little.
“Manguy will be heading this up,” said Jeremy, ignoring the speed at which Jeronica’s head snapped round to look at him. “He’ll be taking on the Lead Product Owner role initially until we hire someone suitable, and then they will report into him in his capacity as Product Director. I’m very pleased that he’s been willing to step forward and pick this up, as I’m expecting it to be high profile for this year.”
The other employees, all very much aware of this, glared at Manguy, who smirked back. He set the pen down, now perfectly at ease and comfortable with his victory.