Have you heard of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts? Professor Butts invented the self-operating napkin. There is a schematic demonstrating the operation of this remarkable device on the cover of a book called “Rube Goldberg’s Inventions.”
We can’t reproduce the schematic here, but let me explain how the self-operating napkin works. (1) The soup spoon is raised to the mouth pulling an attached string, (2) as the string is pulled, it jerks a connected ladle, (3) the ladle, now in motion, tosses a cracker, (4) the airborne cracker sails past a parrot seated on a perch, (5) the parrot leaps off his perch pursuing the cracker, (6) the perch tilts upsetting a container of seeds, (7) the seeds fall into a pail below, (8) the extra weight added to the pail causes it to sag pulling another string, (9) the tightening string ignites an automatic lighter, (10) the lighter ignites the fuse on a rocket, (11) the rocket blasts off bumping a sickle as it goes, (12) the moving sickle cuts another string, (13) the severed string releases a pendulum. The back-and-forth motion of the swinging pendulum causes the napkin to wipe the soup off the chin. It sure works on paper, doesn’t it?
Professor Butts and his self-operating napkin are the inventions of Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg. Goldberg is best known for his cartoons depicting complicated gadgets designed to execute simple tasks by the most outlandish series of interconnected steps. Naturally, any screw up along the way would cause the whole contraption to be a fiasco.
Professor Butts’s invention is on my mind this week as we watch the frantic efforts to salvage some of the interlocking parts of a failing 2,000 page bill that might have been drawn up in Professor Butts’s laboratory.
Here’s what we know about Obamacare now. The “roll-out” is a disaster. All the promises concerning the website’s readiness were bogus. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been expended to get this thing in shape and we don’t know yet how much of that money will prove to be wasted.
The failed website caused a giant shortfall in the number of people signing up on the program. This anemic sign-up performance reduces funds contributed by young insureds and this weak participation by younger insureds will jack up the costs to older insureds. Older insureds who would otherwise keep their current policies are being canceled. This forces them, against their will, into Obamacare. Millions of irate citizens are demanding an explanation from the president and legislators. After all, these are the people who rammed this bill through while endlessly reassuring these citizens they could keep their policies.
Oft-repeated denials are evaporating under the weight of the stubborn facts. Even so, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (and women) are working overtime to try to put Obamacare back together again. They have already usurped legislative authority by rewriting the bill. Now they are engaged in a wholesale, non-legislative, overhaul. This newest rewrite is, once again, without input from the legislators elected by the people to draft, debate and vote on our laws. These legislators are also elected to amend bills that aren’t working.
Samuel Johnson, one of our great western thinkers, once observed, “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” So how would Dr. Johnson analyze Obamacare? It appears to be growing weak and useless.
But uninformed integrity can’t be the explanation. The integrity of those who conceived, sold and attempted to implement this law is, at best, suspect. This act appears to be dangerous and dreadful, but unscrupulous knowledge can’t be the explanation. Nobody will own up to having knowledge about the source of the problems rotting the insides out of the bill. At the risk of being presumptuous, Dr. Johnson might say a situation that displays weakness and uselessness regarding its stated objective, while threatening danger and dread at the same time, can only be explained by an absence of integrity and knowledge in those wielding arrogant power.
American citizens are being edged nearer a precipice. Inch by inch, the federal government is intruding into the day-to-day decisions of the people it is supposed to serve. Hour by hour debt is being piled onto the shoulders of young people who may, in the future, be deprived of any hope of improving their standard of living by the fruits of their labor. If Americans don’t aggressively act to restrain runaway legislation like Obamacare, we might as well turn the government over to the next generations of Rube Goldberg creations. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.