According to an ancient fable, a monkey discovered a cherry in a jug. When he reached in to seize it, he found the jug’s opening too small to allow him to retain his grasp on the cherry and still withdraw his hand. He didn’t realize it was a trap. A crafty hunter knew the greedy monkey would never let go once he got his hand on the cherry. And so, though all the monkey had to do to preserve his freedom was simply release the cherry, he just couldn’t do it. He clung stubbornly to that cherry while the hunter captured him, put him in a cage and locked him up for the rest of his life.
This fable is on my mind this week as I watch the nation thrashing in confusion with its hand stuck in the Obamacare jug. No doubt, there was a host of tempting cherries deposited in that jug: “Everyone will have healthcare coverage, regardless of income. Most American households will wind up saving money. If you like your existing plan, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Signing up will be easy. You can have all this and it won’t add a dime to the deficit.”
It’s hard to imagine a more alluring presentation of delicious social cherries.
But now the truth is dawning, and we realize we have been drawn into a snare. What’s our next move? Do we have the wisdom and discipline to release the lure, or will we stubbornly hang on until the cage door is closed and locked?
The political discussions of the day revolve around this question. In light of what we know now, does it make sense to simply “grin and bear it,” or should we release the bait, free ourselves and find a less dangerous way to get what we want?
There are “die hard” Obamacare devotees who insist we hang on, no matter what. I overheard a televised interview with one of these who was asked how he justifies continued support for Obamacare in light of the mounting, undeniable proof that it was sold under false pretenses. He responded by saying, even with all this, he still thinks Obamacare is taking us in the right direction. In other words, he’s prepared to impose upon his fellow citizens a regime of misrepresentation, a massive government intrusion into their private affairs, and another incremental loss of freedom because it conforms to his notion of, “the right direction.”
For those who insist that universal healthcare is a desirable goal regardless of the means used to achieve it, let me point something out. Some people might argue that zoo animals have it made. They don’t need to worry about affordable housing because housing is provided. They don’t need to worry about earning their daily bread. Their food is provided by their keepers. They needn’t worry about growing obese, their diets are regulated for them. And they don’t need to be concerned about their health care. The zoo keepers look after all that. All these captives have to do in return are be good exhibits and stay in their cages.
Each time some smooth-talking politician offers us a juicy federal benefit, we should recall the fable of the selfish monkey. Before we stick our hands in that jug, we should stop and ask some questions. Can this politician be trusted? Does he/she have a track record of keeping promises or are we constantly trying to sort through after-the-fact rationalizations for why “this isn’t my fault?” Has this politician demonstrated the solid stewardship that gives us confidence he/she will be faithful in the execution of his/her duties or is this person AWOL when things go wrong leaving us with the frustrating job of trying to pin down some slippery subordinate? When faced with a crisis, does this person solve the problem or dodge the issue and make excuses?
Knowing that government, by its nature, is never satisfied with its share of power or its portion of the nation’s material resources, it is the responsibility of the citizens to subject every government expansion to the strictest of standards and to rein it in when it oversteps. This is why the founding fathers placed strict limits on the power the federal government can exert over American citizens. Even if you believe the government’s motives are truly benevolent, keep this in mind. Government never voluntarily loosens its hold. We have no one but ourselves to blame if the loving embrace we foolishly submit to today becomes the imprisoning coils of tomorrow.
I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.