The Edmond Sun

December 9, 2013

HEY HINK: Government advice goes against centuries of examples

Mike Hinkle
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Of all the harebrained advice I’ve heard doled out over the years this has to be the dumbest: Sign on the dotted line and “don’t worry about the price tag.” This is precisely the message our federal government is belching out to America’s young people to persuade them to sign up for Obamacare. It reminds me of the Three Stooges episode where Moe tells Curly not to worry about the explosion because “dynamite always blows down.” The image of a grasping federal bureaucracy enticing young Americans to sign onto the most aggressive power grab in this country’s history while murmuring “don’t worry about the price tag,” is almost too far-fetched to believe. Unfortunately, it’s all too true.

Last August, the Health and Human Services Department participated in the launch of a video contest. Cash prizes were offered to the creator of a video that offered the best enticement for young people to sign onto Obamacare. This week the White House announced 26-year-old Erin McDonald won the grand prize for her video urging young people to sign up while repeating the refrain, “Don’t worry about the price tag.” Advice like this, if followed, would lead people into gross foolishness in the conduct of their private affairs. But what’s worse, such behavior would produce citizens who are mindless robots at the service of the government never giving a thought to the long-term consequences of their obedience.

One of the most treasured lessons conveyed throughout the history of world literature is this: Always consider the ultimate price tag of any bargain you make, otherwise you may be undone by the consequences. This message has been hammered home for thousands of years in countless myths, legends, fairy tales, fables, folk tales, epics, stories and proverbs. Uther foolishly bargains away his unborn son to gratify his physical lust. Midas begs for the golden touch not realizing it would cost him his precious daughter. Judas accepts 30 pieces of silver only to discover that a bag of silver is not worth the cost of betrayal. Faust signs away his immortal soul in return for limitless access to the pleasures of the world. These stories have been told and retold through the ages as a warning. Every bargain has a price tag.

Be sure you understand that price tag before you make the deal. You may be giving up much more than you know. How can our government, with our tax dollars, launch a campaign encouraging our fellow citizens to ignore the ultimate costs of any bargain?

One of the profound obligations we have as parents is to caution our children concerning the risks of making decisions without considering the consequences. We have failed if we encourage them to “don’t worry about the price tag” and charge all the merchandise they want on their credit cards. What kind of parents would we be if we urged them to buy any car that pleased them and not “worry about the price tag?” We would be guilty of standing idle while they walk into a life of debt servitude if we didn’t caution them to “know the price before you make the deal.” But these are precisely the words our young people are hearing from their government. “Join us and don’t worry about the price tag.”

But this is how our government has been operating for decades. Our presidents and our legislators have been piling huge mountains of debt on us, our children and grandchildren with no apparently realistic thought about how this debt is to be paid. Evidently, none of them is worried about the ultimate price tag. This latest campaign is simply the noisy confirmation of a truth we’ve suspected for years. Our government doesn’t care about the price tag, and as long as we don’t worry about it, we can be persuaded to follow along meekly swallowing any line of foolishness they offer.

So what is the ultimate price tag of Obamacare the administration wants to lull our young people into ignoring? If this law survives, the door will be open to government intrusion into every aspect of our lives. After all, everything we do, the food we eat, the movies we watch, the games we play, the books we read — all this can be tied to our sense of well-being. And our sense of well-being can be tied to our health. And if the government is picking up the tab for our health, they have some “say-so” in how to keep the costs down

But hey, it’s a cute song, so let’s all join in and don’t worry about the price tag. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.