The Edmond Sun


February 21, 2014

HEY HINK: Electing competent leaders remains everyone’s responsibility

EDMOND — An article appearing in the Feb. 19 edition of Science Daily brings an Ambrose Bierce quote to mind. He defines responsibility as, “A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one’s neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.”

History and works of literature provide a wealth of stories of incompetent decision-makers who tried to duck responsibility for the consequences of their bad judgments. For example, in the Adam and Eve story, when the first man is caught red-faced in the middle of his first transgression, his knee-jerk reaction is to explain his misbehavior by saying, “It’s the woman’s fault,” (with the unspoken corollary “and yours for giving her to me.”)

Now science adds an additional note of credibility to Bierce’s definition. According to an article appearing in Psychological Science, authored by researchers from Duke University, when people are forced to make difficult decisions, they explain the outcome as consequences of “fate.” This research suggests people confronted with the negative by-products of their bad decision-making may simply shrug their shoulders, neutralize the role of personal responsibility and sing, “Que Sera, Sera.”

The researchers intentionally exposed their subjects to difficult choices and required them to make decisions. Thereafter, the subjects’ belief in “fate” was examined. The researchers concluded that decision difficulty can motivate increased belief in fate. There seems to be a soothing effect — almost narcotic — in saying, “OK, things turned out bad but there was nothing I could do about it.”

According to the researchers, “Belief in fate may ease the psychological burden of a difficult decision, but whether that comes at the cost of short-circuiting an effective decision-making process is an important question for future research.”

While we hesitate to tell these researchers how to run their business, we might have some suggestions, based on our real-world experience and our common sense, where there might be additional fruit for study as to how people cope with crummy decisions.

For example, one way incompetent decision-makers may have for dealing with the disastrous consequences of their foolish choices is to simply deny the outcome. No matter how catastrophic the fallout may be, some of these incompetents simply pretend nothing happened. Researchers might find that certain politicians and bureaucrats waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a thoroughly dysfunctional website and shrug it off by saying, “Glitches like this are normal.” This is one way to dodge personal responsibility for otherwise inexcusable waste.

If fate is not a usable scapegoat and if the disaster can’t be overlooked, the resourceful politician or bureaucrat might ease the pain of a monumental screw-up by blaming political opponents. If the problem isn’t fate, if it’s a genuine disaster, and if the “It’s somebody else’s fault” dodge won’t work, maybe it’s best just to change the subject. Even in instances where there’s no denying the stubborn facts, and someone is forced to or volunteers to take responsibility, there are no consequences. This “amputation” of consequences from responsibility may provide incompetents with an alternative to blaming fate, or … whoever.

Daily, American voters are hammered with disturbing news concerning the devastating results of official bungling; hundreds of millions of wasted dollars, inexcusable security blunders, parades of gross foreign-policy errors, runaway bureaucratic power abuses, undeniable misstatement of important facts, gross miscalculations of the real cost of government programs; the list could go on. Americans have never been so disaffected with the performance of their president and legislators.

Who bears the blame for this disaffection? Can we justifiably blame fate? Can we pretend none of this is happening? Can we allow ourselves to be conned into believing it’s always somebody else’s fault? The fact is, the dysfunctional, incompetent, irresponsible mob running this country was put in office by the American voter. Unfortunately, in many cases, voters exercise their franchise based on the, “What’s in it for me?” philosophy. I’m reminded of a statement by President Kennedy. “Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities.” If voters are enticed to elect crooks and clowns based on their promises to furnish privileges unencumbered by responsibilities, how long can the sanctity of our rights endure?

G.K. Chesterton rightly summarized the operation of fate, “I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.” If the voters fail to elect competent presidents and legislators they may not shirk responsibility by blaming fate. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.


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  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • 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


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

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
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