The Edmond Sun


June 27, 2014

HEY HINK: Will we keep Orwell’s dystopian vision at bay?

EDMOND — June 25 marked the 111th birthday of Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell. Orwell’s 1949 masterpiece “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was a chilling portrayal of what society might become if economic, social, military and cultural power becomes centralized in a government intent on preserving that power at any cost.

The government in Orwell’s dystopia demanded that everyone’s behavior, expressions of opinion and even their thoughts must follow rules enforced by the authorities.

This oppressive government rewrote history, told blatant lies, kept its citizens under oppressive surveillance controlling every aspect of their lives. Government employed intense psychological pressures and skillful manipulation techniques to ensure the governed were tricked, lulled, intimidated and ultimately forced into behaving in obedience to government wishes.

Orwell warned that the more passive and apathetic a population becomes in face of growing centralized power and tightening controls, the more likely the “Orwellian” future will come to pass.

This week, as I reflected on the growing strength of our federal government and its increasing intrusion into our private affairs in the name of environmental purity, public health and political correctness, I wondered if Orwell would detect warning signs.

As an intellectual exercise, let’s consider how Orwell’s oppressive government might react to some recent scientific findings.

For example, since this government would be totally responsible for public health, it might take notice of a BYU study published in the June issue of The Journal of Marriage and Family. These researchers determined that happily married couples actually put less stress on the health care system than couples involved in more marital conflict. Rick Miller, one of the principal researchers, believes his findings should lead policymakers to encourage insurance companies to cover marriage counseling, “because it can help shore up marriages and prevent future health problems.”

Orwell’s totalitarian government might reason that since happy marriages lower health care costs, the government should make marriage counseling mandatory. After all, why should society pick up the tab for couples whose domestic disagreements cause them to be less healthy? Of course, the government would need to determine on the front end which couples are at risk. This would necessitate all couples completing government-approved questionnaires to measure the degree of domestic tranquility. These, of course, would need to be re-administered periodically to allow for rapid intervention should the relationship becomes strained and in danger of leading to increased health care costs.

As happy marriages have a beneficial effect on overall health, it would become the government’s responsibility to see that all married couples follow proper guidelines to ensure that their marriages are sufficiently “happy.”

Then, there’s the study released this week published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. According to researchers from the Department of Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, adults who watch TV for three hours or more each day increase their risk of premature death. Orwell’s totalitarian government might determine that certain segments of society are too important to run such a risk. Consequently, the government would need to monitor the number of hours each person spends sitting in front of the television. If someone’s sedentary lifestyle poses a threat to the overall level of health care costs, the government might feel the need to impose some regulations — for the good of us all.

In the words of one of the researchers, “As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging. “In Orwell’s totalitarian state, this would certainly require governmental intervention.

Finally, this week the Institute of Food Technologies conducted its annual meeting and food expo in New Orleans. This group points out that mankind’s carbon footprint could be significantly reduced if people included more insects in their diet. “Insects require less feed, less water, less land and less energy to produce and their production generates substantially lower environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and greenhouse gases.” An Orwellian government fixated on the dangers of climate change might determine that we’re all better off eating more bugs. Such a government might see the benefits to mandating that processed foods contain a certain percentage of “nutritional insect matter.” These regulations would help counter climate change and would, no doubt, help to reduce the level of obesity as people would be much less likely to overeat.

Of course, we in America are in no danger of sliding into and Orwellian dystopia. Our government would never intrude so far into our private affairs in the name of reducing health care costs and reversing the dangers of climate change — would it? I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.

Text Only
  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014

  • HEY HINK: IRS interferes with citizens’ rights of free speech

    The patient is gravely ill. We have detected traces of a deadly venom in the bloodstream. We don’t know how widespread the poison is, but we know, if not counteracted, toxins of this kind can rot the patient’s vital organs and could ultimately prove fatal.

    July 19, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
     View Results