The greatest job in the world!


That’s right, I believe the greatest job in the world is being a hockey goalie! It’s okay, most people think I’m off my rocker anyway. I love being an old hockey goalie, it is part of my being, and most people are a little surprised when they hear about my goaltending experiences from grade school all the way through college because they don’t think I’m built like a goalie. At least in their mind they have a picture of the Mighty Ducks and Goldberg who was the fat kid who couldn’t skate and was the biggest kid on the team, so he got put in the net.

The greatest job in the world…

Many people have asked me over the years why did I want to be a goalie? As a 12-year-old my answer was simple, the goalie gets to play the entire game while every other player on the team only plays 2- or 3-minute shifts before they must leave the ice. And the goalie is the only player who does not have to leave the game and serve time in the penalty box when they get called for a penalty! (Minor penalties only) How cool I thought, when I did something bad and got caught, I didn’t get a timeout!

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood just north of Chicago that had many boys on the block and depending on the season determined what kind of a game we would play in the neighborhood. When school started up and the weather started to get cold you knew it was hockey season and we started playing street hockey from the moment we got home from school until dinnertime. I would always be the first one to jump into the net and start kicking out whatever the guys would shoot at me.

It was my mom who taught me and my siblings to ice skate in the days when they use to freeze the parks for ice-skating. Although I started initially using figure skates I would always be attracted to those kids that were off to the side at the parks who had sticks in their hands and were playing ice hockey. My two older brothers would always play pickup hockey games on the frozen ponds behind our house in the woods, they were too cool for me their younger brother to join them, so I was never invited. That is until they needed a goalie! No one else in our neighborhood wanted to be a goalie and you could not have a good hockey match up unless you had a goalie to shoot at so they started to invite me to play with the big boys all the time.

My dream of being a real goalie started to become a reality when my dad became the attorney for the Niles Park district. He came home one day and me and my brothers were signed up to play organized ice hockey for the Niles Park district.

The greatest job in the world…

Another reason I love being a goalie is how the goalie equipment is so unique and completely different than most of my friends had ever seen before. Unfortunately, it is also very expensive! So much so that I had to use the Niles Park District’s equipment (the gray leg pads and the gloves in the picture)

I never had my own equipment until high school, and then I would always buy used equipment from other goalies I knew who just got a new set of leg pads or new gloves.

My dad was an avid Blackhawks hockey fan and back then those tickets were hard to come by and were not cheap. Every once in a while, my dad would score a couple of Blackhawk tickets that would be standing room only in the upper deck of the old Chicago Stadium.

I remember it like it was yesterday when it was my turn and I got to come to a game, I remember walking up the stairs and barely being able to see through the smoke that would rise to the top of the building. There would always be at least one or two fights in the stands right around us as we watched the Blackhawks go toe to toe with the Boston Bruins or whoever they faced that evening. But the thing I remembered most was the roar of the “Mad House on Madison”

I remember one day hearing a news story about this new rookie goaltending sensation who signed a big contract with the Blackhawks, his name was Tony Esposito. He took the NHL by storm his rookie year and set a record by recording 15 shutouts in a single season. This record still stands today and will never be broken especially given the speed and talent of professional hockey players in the modern era. Because of this record he earned the nickname Tony “O” which always made me smile.


1980: Goalie Tony Esposito #35 of the Chicago Blackhawks poses for a portrait circa 1980. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

During Tony O’s rookie season, I fell in love with everything that he embodied as the ideal role model that would help guide me on my own hockey journey as a goalie.

The greatest job in the world…

There is no better feeling than being a goalie in a close game with time running out and the opposing team gets a break away. That is, the opposing player breaks away from our defenseman and is skating in all alone with the puck on his stick and no one between him and the goal except me the goalie and then making a big save!

Matt Berrafato stopping a breakaway in the 1976 state championship game.

The media both local and nationally loved the Tony O story of a rookie with 15 shutouts while also winning the Calder Cup Trophy (rookie of the year) and the Vezina Trophy (most valuable goalie in the NHL). I devoured every story I could find about Tony O and came across the cover story from Sports Illustrated highlighting the Esposito brothers Phil and Tony.

It surprised me that the writer of the story whenever they talked about Tony O the younger brother the focus was on his mental philosophy about goaltending. There were three parts of his goalie philosophy.

1 – Mentally prepare for every game. (Get psyched up mentally and visualize yourself stopping every shot.)

2 – When they score a goal against you forget about it! There is nothing you can do to remove the goal from the scoreboard. Focus instead on stopping the next shot!

3 – Your only job as a goalie is to stop the puck, don’t blame your teammates no matter what the circumstance after a goal is scored against you.

Not only did I model and copy his style of goaltending, the butterfly,

Tony “O” Esposito created the butterfly style of goaltending which is now used unanimously by all goalies.

Matt Berrafato with the Bantam Niles travel All-Stars finishing second in the Illinois State Hockey Tournament 1972-1973.

Matt Berrafato with the Notre Dame Dons varsity hockey team in Niles IL, the 1976 AAA Illinois High School State Champions.

but I also adopted the three aspects of his mental goaltending philosophy which was responsible for me being able to compete at the high school and college NCAA Division I levels.

The greatest job in the world…

I learned 3 important life lessons from being a goalie.

1 – Don’t worry about failing, get up and focus on the next shot.

2 – When you make a mistake, take responsibility, and get better so it doesn’t happen again.

3 – Develop the mental toughness not to worry about what other people think.

One reason being a goalie isn’t easy is that when they score a goal against you especially after making a mistake, you can’t hide. Any other position in hockey when you screw up you can skate off the ice and go sit on the bench. But the goalie can’t leave the ice and hide, the spotlight along with every eye in the arena is left looking at you. When I played college hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers I learned a new meaning for the word sieve. I felt sorry for the opposing goalie after the Badgers scored a goal. As a goalie up in Madison they called you a sieve because every shot went through you. Not only did they call you a sieve, they reminded you that it’s all your fault!

The greatest job in the world…

As a goalie you always feel needed. Although it is true that without a good offense that scores goals you can’t win many games. There is a saying in hockey that if you don’t have a goalie that can stand on his head regularly, you don’t win championships. Can you imagine a goalie dressed in full gear being able to stand on his head on the ice?

Well, a goalie who stops impossible shots especially multiple times in a row is described as a goalie who can stand on his head. Tony O would regularly stand on his head 2 and 3 times in each game and although I was saddened by the fact that in his 16-year NHL career with the Blackhawks he never did experience winning the Stanley Cup. I was happy to see Rocky Wirtz bring Tony O back as an ambassador to experience the last three Chicago Stanley Cup championships.

When I heard the news last week that my goaltending mentor and hero passed away after a brief battle with cancer, I felt a big hole in my heart. Although I never met him in person, he had a significant impact on my life. The lessons he taught me not only allowed me to be the best goalie I could be but also the best version of myself as a successful person in the other arenas of my life.

Tony “O” Esposito, one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game, may he rest in peace.

My passion for hockey and especially for being a goalie have played a significant role in my life purpose finding me!

See my blog post “The Mystery of Inspiration”

Matthew Berrafato

The Elephant Hunter

The Beat of a Different Drummer

My love for rock ‘n roll began early in my life because of the influence of my older siblings. When the Beatles invaded America, it was my oldest brother who began smuggling their music into our home unbeknownst to our parents. It was useless for my parents and their generation to think they could stop or even slow down the invasion because their music was playing on every AM radio station. When we saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, which was my folk’s favorite TV program, the music scene would never be the same!

When I got to high school, a new group of friends introduced me to a new band that I had never heard of named Rush. The very first song I listened to was “Working Man”…

and thus began my lifelong love affair with this Canadian rock band. Rush, known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs, drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy and philosophy, has always had such a unique sound like no other band, and I loved it!

When I saw the first news alert on January 10 “Legendary drummer Neil Peart of Rush has died,” although I was surprised, it didn’t sink in.

It wasn’t until later that day when I got a text message from my good friend from high school, who was with me when we saw Rush live in concert in the mid-70s, whichsaid “I’m sad, just saw that Neil Peart the Rush drummer died. He was maybe the best in the world!” That’s when it really hit me and began to sink in.

I immediately went to YouTube and searched Rush. One of the first videos that caught my eye was “Rush – Xanadu” (the official music video). I put on my headphones and cranked it up as loud as I could and listened to one of my absolute favorite Rush tunes!

My mind’s eye brought me back in time to 1974 to the front row seats at the International Amphitheater in Chicago where we witnessed my favorite group up close and personal playing this song. I always thought it was the unique vocal sound of Geddy Lee and the incredible guitar riffs of Alex Lifeson that attracted me most, but now I know it was the creative genius of Neil Peart that was the driving force behind my musical attraction to Rush. (This Xanadu video highlights the hallmarks of classic Rush ballads, at least 10 minutes in length, complexity, and deep philosophical lyrics.)

Over the next few days I devoured any YouTube videos I could find on Neil Peart and Rush, interviews, documentaries, and other songs and concerts. I was fascinated to learn about some of the passions that were deep within this iconic drummer. The interview with George Stroumboulopoulos highlights what lies beneath the beat of this drummer.

What I enjoyed most about this journey of discovery into who the man was beneath the Rush drummer, is how Neil never backed down on following the beat of his own drums, no matter what anyone else thought, especially the music critics.

Are you aware of the purpose for which your own drum beats? If you don’t know or you are not sure, don’t worry, you are not alone. Focus on your God-given gifts/talents and your passions, and then look at the people you can serve with those gifts/talents and your passions, and your purpose will emerge! Neil used his gifts of writing lyrics and his passion for drumming to serve people by allowing them to be inspired and moved by the music he created through Rush. He understood his purpose!

Neil died at the young age of 67; let his death be a reminder to all of us. No one lives forever, and no one knows exactly when our time on this planet will come to an end. Are we living our lives according to what we are called to do?

What are you waiting for?

Here are Neil Peart’s top 10 rules for success where he leaves all of us some pearls of wisdom, as only one of the greatest drummers of all time could do.

This is one Rush fan that will miss you and your gifts!

Neil Peart, rest in peace.

Matthew Berrafato

The Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #11 — The Big Picture

I know it has been a while since my last post. One of the reasons for this is I continue to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information coming at us each and every day surrounding this healthcare reform debate. As the details continue to unfold around the bills that have been introduced so far out of Washington are we losing sight of the big picture? I think we can safely say that no matter what the final outcome surrounding healthcare reform, healthcare in this country along with health insurance in this country is going to cost us something. There is no way that healthcare is going to be free. Whether it remains totally unchanged (which I firmly believe is not going to happen) or a public option ends up being introduced, they are both going to cost us money out of our pockets. That being said, what I think we need to focus our attention on in the big picture is the issue of freedom. Freedom to choose our doctors, freedom to choose our health insurance plans, freedom to make health care decisions about ourselves and our families with our doctors, freedom from rationing of care , freedom from unnecessary tax increases. Anything within healthcare reform that messes with any of these freedoms in the wrong way needs to be avoided. The free market system that has allowed us to become the great nation that we are given the chance will produce the best solutions that maintain these freedoms at costs that can be afforded.

Maintaining these freedoms can only be possible in the long term if we as a nation get healthy and stay healthy. When looking at the big picture we must pay attention to the one fact that everyone can agree on, based on the current path we are on as Americans no system can support the weight of our collective unhealthiness. Therefore, any solutions that are being offered throughout this healthcare reform debate must have workable and realistic wellness solutions along with the tools and incentives required for Americans to redirect their lifestyles by changing their behavior in a way that will positively affect their health and well-being. We are kidding ourselves if we think that by making any modifications to health insurance and the health care system without effectively addressing the issue of getting healthy and staying healthy that we will be able to maintain these freedoms. (Remember, I’m talking about lifestyle choices that everybody no matter what kind of genes you have can decide to change.)

I read an article today written by Grace-Marie Turner that addresses recent polls in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times on Americans and what they want in their health care reform. The title of the article is “Americans Do Want Health Care Reform”. Do you want freedom and liberty? Or do you want apparent security without freedom? Which camp are you in?

When dealing with a topic like health insurance and healthcare reform the complexities are mind boggling. As we begin to see the specific details of the plans coming out of Washington (HR 3200 which is over 1000 pages long) it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and the thing that most Americans hold near and dear to their hearts, FREEDOM!

I have a question for you, how do you boil a bullfrog? When I first heard this question I was puzzled because I knew as a young boy catching and releasing many frogs and bullfrogs that it seemed almost an impossibility that anybody could ever boil a bullfrog. Bullfrogs are strong and fast jumpers, and if you were to take a pot of water and bring the water to the boiling point, the minute you dropped a bullfrog into the boiling water it would jump out of the hot water as quickly as you put it in. However, if you were to take the same pot and put some nice cool refreshing water into the pot and placed a bullfrog into the water gently. Then as you proceed to incrementally turn up the heat on the water eventually the big old bullfrog would get drowsy and begin to fall asleep. As soon as that bullfrog was to fall asleep, you could turn up the heat ever so slowly until eventually the water is boiling and the bullfrog is completely cooked! As our country reforms health care let’s not lose sight of the big picture, because in the big picture our freedom is just like the bullfrog, if we’re not careful we may fall asleep and our freedom will get cooked!

Matthew Berrafato

Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #10 — “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon ….”

“It doesn’t take a brain surgeon…….”

Have you ever used this line before? I will usually use this statement when speaking about something that is not as complex as most people think it is. Sometimes when I find myself debating the issues on health care reform with people I’m starting to believe that maybe it is more complex than brain surgery. That is why once again I am going to stick to my guns and continue to address one bite at a time the most pressing healthcare reform issues.

In one of my earlier bites, B.I.T.E. #2, I talked in general terms about The Public Plan run by the government. Over the past couple of days we have now seen two separate bills that have been introduced under the category of health care reform and both of them so far have included “the public plan” run by the government. For the first time we are starting to see some of the details of this public plan and I am encouraging all people to pay attention and take a very close look at what is being proposed. Don’t stop there, once you understand some of the details it is imperative that each one of us contact our representatives in Washington to voice your concerns or approval, but especially your concerns. Remember, whatever is decided on health care reform of this magnitude once it is implemented never in the history of our country has ever been reversed. The consequences will be dealt with by future generations of Americans, our children and our children’s children.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored the bill from the House at $1.5 trillion. The CBO’s score for the other bill introduced by the Energy & Commerce, Ways & Means and Education & Labor tri-committee was over $1 trillion. Do any of you remember the example I gave you in B.I.T.E. #4 giving you a frame of reference? Let me refresh your memory on just how big $1 trillion is. If 1  million seconds of time is about 11 1/2 days, 1  billion seconds is 32 years, 1 trillion seconds is 32,000 years!

So far there are three ways that these new bills are going to provide the funding to come up with these incredibly large amounts of money.

1 — Tax the Wealthy. New taxes equaling at least $540 billion over 10 years. (I am including the following link that is an article written describing exactly how this new tax on the wealthy would work.)

                Taxing the Rich — article

2 — Employer Mandate (employers would be mandated to offer health insurance to its employees or face a penalty tax of 8% of their payroll for noncompliance.)

3 — Health Insurance Company Fees (New fees would be levied against all health insurance companies that would equal between $75 billion and $100 billion over 10 years.)

All of the above taxes and industry fees could be even higher should the savings being outlined in the legislation fail to materialize. Just because you currently are not considered wealthy doesn’t mean you will not be taxed in the future to pay for this unsustainable legislation.

One of the scariest and eye-opening comments was made by the CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, “the bills won’t meet the Presidents promise of reducing health care costs over the long term.” This legislation will not only increase the already staggering deficit, but it will also negatively affect our economy due to the employer mandate causing employers to reduce their workforce even further by having to lay off additional employees due to these new increased costs.

If any of these facts are disturbing to you now is the time to make a phone call to your representatives in Washington. If you are not sure who your elected representatives are you can use the links below to find out who they are and how to contact them by phone. Our voices must be heard, we must let them know in Washington that our country and our economy cannot withstand this staggering financial burden.

Matthew Berrafato
Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #9 — The Magic Question

Consumer Driven Health Care (CDHC) is a major paradigm shift from how we all view health care in America.

“We have to change our thinking about buying health care services. We need to treat these purchases as we would any other necessary purchase. You want to know what you are getting, why you need it, and how much it costs.” Says Greg Dattilo and Dave Racer in their short but powerful book Why Health Care Costs so Much. The Solution: Consumers

            I highly recommend that every American read this little book. It is only 76 pages and it is the size of a small pocket handbook. This is the clearest description I have read so far explaining the entire concept of CDHC.

            The magic question is How Much Does This Cost? I shared this question at the very end of B.I.T.E. #8. Since this question has never been asked within the current health care system is going to solicit a lot of raised eyebrows and puzzled looks. Many of the providers will give you a number of excuses of why they can’t answer that question, but I implore you to persist until you get the true cost of the health care service or product. This question seems to be magical because each time it is asked the true price will have to be given or the consumer will not accept the product or service. Once you the consumer gets the price then and only then can you shop for the best price. When enough consumers ask the Magic question of each and every health care provider for every healthcare product and service the free enterprise system will cause the price to stabilize and eventually come down. As I said in B.I.T.E. #8, if there is not any skin in the game from the consumer, the consumer has no incentive to ask the magic question. It is time for all of us to start asking how much does this cost?

Matthew Berrafato
Elephant Hunter


B.I.T.E. #8 — Skin in the Game!

Have you heard of the terminology consumer driven health care? (CDHC)  But do you really know what it means? I am going to devote a handful of  B.I.T.E.s from the EHI One Bite Connection over the next couple of weeks to educate people on this important concept. CDHC is similar to health care and health care reform in one important characteristic, it consists of a number of separate issues with many moving parts. It can be overwhelming when the average person with no background in health insurance or health care tries to wrap their arms around all the different components of CDHC. The EHI One Bite Connection will take a close look at each individual component one bite at a time as always to simplify for better understanding. If you will take the time to explore and understand each B.I.T.E. I will share over the next couple of weeks, when you look at them all together at the end you will see why so many of the experts agree that CDHC is the key to successful health care reform.

The consumers of health care must have skin in the game in order to reduce and control the increasing cost of health care in America.

What do I mean when I say “skin in the game.” Let’s look at a couple of examples to illustrate the power of putting your skin in the game.

#1 — Have you ever played a card game like poker or blackjack with three or four other players using poker chips that had no real dollar value? Do you remember how you would bet freely and take risky chances? How does your betting change when you start using your own money in place of plastic poker chips with no value? That is the effect of putting your skin in the game.

#2 — Cars: What if you gave your teenage son or daughter a 2007 Toyota Corolla and paid for their car insurance and paid for all their gas? How would they take care of this car versus if they bought the same car with their own money and paid for their own insurance and their own gas? How well they take care of that car will be in direct proportion to how much skin they have in the game.

#3 — Health Insurance: Scenario #1 — a person pays only $25 per month for their health insurance premium. They have a $10 doctor office co-pay feature, there is no deductible ($0), and 100% coinsurance with zero out-of-pocket cost.

Scenario #2 — the same person pays $100 per month for their health insurance premium. There is no doctor office co-pay feature, there is a $1000 deductible with 80/20% coinsurance and an out-of-pocket maximum of $3000. Once the person has paid out of their pocket $3000 the insurance company covers 100%.

Under which scenario will the person use more health care whether they need it or not? When there is skin in the game, the consumer will behave differently about how they spend their health care dollars because it is their money. Without skin in the game there is no incentive to be a wise and prudent shopper.

Without skin in the game by every consumer (including politicians and all government employees) there is no incentive to ask the question “How Much Does This Cost?” Without everyone asking this question of the system costs will continue to rise out of control.

Matthew Berrafato
Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #7 — The Uninsured — “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”.

From the very beginning of the presidential campaign starting with the primary elections, we have been hearing about “the uninsured” of America. These two words have been used by both parties more than tax and spend or conservative and liberal. But we have yet to hear any discussion about who they are. What people are being included in this terminology “the uninsured”? During this entire debate on healthcare reform no one from the current administration has broken it down by the actual numbers.

Let’s take a look at the statistics that many people have never heard in regard to the uninsured. My point in sharing this is once again to arm everyone so you can effectively debate the healthcare reform issues at hand. Whenever we look at and study the statistics I am about to share, the more we are reminded of a phrase “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” In other words, do not scrap and throw away the entire private health insurance market that is currently working for between 85 and 90% of the entire American population. These figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as the BCBSA Analysis and Congressional Budget Office. The most recent statistics available from the U.S. Census Bureau were from 2002. The total uninsured population in the US was 41,207,000 which at the time represented 14.6% of the total population. But here’s what we have not heard from any of the media since the presidential campaigns began. Of the 41,207,000 uninsured, 14,059,000 were eligible for government programs and never enrolled, another 13,059,000 uninsured earned more than $50,000 of annual income and chose not to purchase any health insurance even though they could have. Another 5,707,000 people were considered short-term uninsured which meant they were uninsured for less than two years, between jobs, recent college graduates or seasonal workers. This leaves 8,213,000 long-term uninsured individuals representing 2.91% of the total population. I don’t have a good answer as to why we have never heard the statistics before.

I encourage you to check out the link I have listed below for more detailed information about the uninsured in America, it is a resource provided by the Foundation for Health Coverage Education.      Coverage for

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently scored the proposed public plan run by the government at over $1.6 trillion and there is even more spending in the bill that the CBO hasn’t even scored yet. The net decrease in uninsured after spending $1.6 trillion is only 16 million still leaving 30 million people uninsured!

We should be working on a solution to cover the 2.9% of our overall population that represents the actual long-term uninsured.

A public plan run by the government as a solution to cover the entire 47 million uninsured population is a formula that will destroy the private health insurance industry in just two short years says The Lewin Group. That is what I call “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”.

Matthew Berrafato
Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #6 — 1 800-Govt-HEALTH

Can you see it in your mind’s eye? An 800 number that promises to have all your answers about the brand-new government health insurance plan. The hair on the back of my neck stands up on end when I think about what is being proposed without any insurance agents or brokers, only a magical 800-number.

When is the last time you had to stand in line at the DMV to have your drivers license renewed? What was your experience like? How about the last time you waited in line at the post office? What kind of service did you receive? How quickly were you served? How friendly were those people who waited on you?

The Public Plan run by the government that is being proposed has many consequences associated with it and I would like to continue using the elephant hunting philosophy to address each of them one at a time. As I mentioned in one of my earlier bites, the almost certain outcome of a public plan offering will result in the elimination of all competition from the private health insurance market. When competition is nonexistent there is no incentive to offer high quality service. I have been a licensed insurance agent for over 28 years. If I do not go out of my way to offer friendly, competent and fast service to my clients they can simply go down the street to another insurance agent who would be more than glad to serve them. This is the beauty of our free enterprise system and what competition automatically instills into the equation.

I came across a video that I encourage you to look at that will give you a glimpse at coming attractions you can expect from a public plan run by the government. Although it is funny, pay close attention to everything that goes on in this little parody titled “Universal Car Care“.

Matthew Berrafato
Elephant Hunter

B.I.T.E. #5 — We Weren’t Born Yesterday!

The government can administer health care more efficiently and more cost effectively than the private sector.

Before anyone buys into this statement that is being made by the Obama administration, look at the following statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Table 4, 2006. Healthcare administrative cost as a percentage of healthcare income:

Medicare = 3% (administered by private corporations)

Private Insurance = 9.2% (administered by private corporations)

Federal Programs = 17.7% (administered by government agencies)

State Programs = 19% (administered by government agencies)

The reason that Medicare and private insurance administrative costs are so low is that the free market forces these private corporations to keep expenses low and service quality high, as opposed to the federal and state government monopolies who operate without any private competition which produce administrative costs that are more than double.

Is there anyone else out there that would like to see private companies compete with the United States Post Office? What do you suppose would be the resulting outcome? Lower postage rates? Faster and more friendly service?


Competition must be present in order for free enterprise to work and deliver the highest quality healthcare for the most competitive costs! A public plan run by the government will only eliminate competition, we the American people have to fight to keep the competition alive or the free enterprise system will crumble all around us.


Matthew T. Berrafato
Elephant Hunter



B.I.T.E. #4 — Numbed by the Numbers!

How big is $1 trillion? Does anyone really know?
Unless you are an actuary or at the very least a mathematics major most likely you have no idea just like me of the magnitude of this number. Ever since the start of the presidential campaign over two years ago we have been hearing three words thrown around like they were quarters. Million, billion and trillion. When healthcare reform is being discussed, what is really at stake?
Why is it time for someone to sound the alarm? Because the stakes are high and they are greater now than they have ever been in the history of our country. What has happened since the new administration has taken over is that we have been numbed by the numbers. Throughout all of the media, television, newspapers, magazine articles and the Internet, we have heard millions, billions and trillions of dollars being thrown around. It is very hard for anyone to get their mind around the financial concept of how big these numbers really are. Here’s an example that will give you some perspective on what we’re talking about. Let’s look at the measurement of time which is easier for us to comprehend. How big is a million? Let’s  rephrase the question: how much time is 1 million seconds?

1 million seconds is approximately 11 1/2 days.
How much time is 1 billion seconds?

1 billion seconds is approximately 32 years!
How much time is 1 trillion seconds?

1 trillion seconds is approximately 32,000 years!!!
The healthcare industry in America has been measured at approximately $2.4 trillion. Do we really want Uncle Sam taking over 16% of our gross domestic product? This is what is at stake. The point of  B.I.T.E. #4 is to give you some perspective. When the numbers are this big we won’t have a second chance to get health care reform done right.

Matthew T. Berrafato
Elephant Hunter