Last night, at the dinner table, I presented the boys with a scenario. What if the government wrote a law that made all forms of entertainment free for everyone? No one would have to pay for movies, to go bowling, skating, watch a ballgame, etc.
Earlier in the day I’d been reading comments on the Right Wing Obamacare Myths Debunked post by Matt Walsh. There was a lady, who wasn’t even an American, saying she didn’t understand why so many were against Obamacare when it would help so many. All I could think was “My ten-year old would understand why this isn’t a good idea.”
As a family, we don’t always have the money to go to the movies, our local fun center, ball games, etc. We go to about 2 movies a year. Sometimes not even that much. Not always because we don’t have the money, but often times there’s not anything we really want to see. I figure, for just the boy’s admission and snacks, it’s about $15 a pop.
Before dinner, I sat down and wrote up the “Entertainment Act”. Before I read it to them and went over it, I told them to assume they’d pay about $15 to see a movie and the money they get for their allowance would be their annual income. Once they understood the ‘scenario’, we went over each section discussing it and answering their questions if they had any.
Article I. Allows everyone to participate in all local entertainment for free. Movies, roller skating, bowling, etc.
Needless to say, they were all for it. Free fun stuff? Sign me up!
Article II. Those working in the entertainment industry (actors, ball players, etc) as well as the owners of the theaters, stadiums, etc and their employees must still get paid. In order to cover the costs of the entertainment and to pay those working in it, there will be a slight rise in the amount of tax paid on purchases, a few new minor taxes, and less tax breaks at the end of the year.
Here’s where they began to have some questions. At first they were like “Okay, I guess.”, but wondered how it would work. We explained it would be a minor raise in taxes on things, which didn’t seems like a lot. Then they realized that the little – when put all together – adds up to a lot. This was when Brinson started thinking it wasn’t such a good idea. Harrison said “Well, it might still be good. I’m not sure yet…”
Article III. Those who don’t attend entertainment events, by choice, may choose to “opt out” of the program. However, in order to fund the program, those opting out will have to pay a monthly penalty fee. This fee will be in addition to the higher taxes to the less tax breaks, etc. People who never participated in any entertainment activities, and don’t plan to in the future, must still participate or pay the penalty. If a person has a bowling alley or some other form of entertainment in their home for personal use, that is fine, but they must still participate in the program or pay the penalty.
They began to have a few more doubts and questions. Their Gran doesn’t do any of those things, so we talked about how that would impact her. Then we talked about how it would impact them. As it was now, they paid $15 when they wanted to see a movie. Harrison began to get his quizzical eyebrow raise face going. “Wait a second” he says “So, if I don’t want to go to the movies, I have to pay?”
Brinson – “That doesn’t seem right… or fair.”
Harrison – “So, if I don’t want to do it… I have to pay and still pay more taxes and all that other stuff?”
I just gave a nod again. I was trying very hard not to sway their thinking with tone or expression or anything and I made sure they understood that there wasn’t a right or wrong answer…
Tom asked the boys “How much do you pay now to see a movie when you’d like?” They answered $15 (per the parameters at the beginning of the scenario) “So, about $30 a year. How much do you pay to not see movie and stay home?”
Brinson – “Nothing.”
Their expressions began to change from interest to ‘Hey, wait a second…’
Harrison – “This makes no sense…”
Me – “I’m not done. There’s more… Ready to move on?”
Harrison – “Yeah. I guess…”
I began to get the feeling this was no longer a ‘fantastic idea’ in their minds.
Article IV. City officials and city government employees (mayor, secretary, etc) do not have to participate in the program and won’t be required to pay the penalty.
Brinson – “See.”
Me – “What?”
Brinson – “I said it didn’t seem fair. That’s not fair. Why do I have to pay the money, but they don’t?”
Me – “Yeah, why would it be that way? Why would they put that in there?”
Harrison – “Because they don’t want to spend their money or taxes on it…”
Brinson – “Because it’s a dumb idea and they know it.”
We went on to show how the different people’s incomes and how what they pay in is comparable to what they make for a living. Kept it basic, I reminded them of how much they make in allowance each year. Then grabbed the taxes off of that amount. They noted that the people making the most money, paid the most money. Harrison mentioned finding a job that was easier work and less pay if the benefit was the same. This is another problem with such a program. Someone explained in this video that explains socialism to children.
The conversation eventually went on to how much the taxes would be raised or how much the penalty would be and things like that. That was when I said “Well, I’ll tell you how much your taxes will be raised and how much the penalty is after you agree to it and make it a law.”
Harrison – “WHAT!?”
Me – “Tell me if you want to make this a law. Once it becomes a law, I’ll tell you how much it will cost.”
Harrison – “That’s stupid.”
Brinson – “See. Not fair.”
Harrison – “Who knows what you’ve written in there. I could be agreeing to give away a kidney or something.”
Me – “So, do y’all want to make it a law?”
Brinson – “No. I don’t.”
Harrison – “Who would?!”
In the end, the kids decided it wasn’t a good idea. I put the paper, where I’d written it, on the table and said “So… That’s a no then?”
Harrison said “Hang on…” He left the room and came back a second later with the “Like” and “Dislike” stamps. I think the stamps speak volumes…
The fact that this is the basic crux of the Obamacare ‘bill’ and a 10-year-old and 13-year-old can understand it won’t work – while others insist it’s awesome – is incredible. It’s not that my kids are the savants. I love ’em, they’re smart, but it doesn’t take a lot of brains to ‘get’ that this just won’t work.
How anyone can is beyond me…
Edit: Please note – I have not said that going to the movies is the same as someone dying. My children (Thank the Lord) haven’t had to deal with a loved one or close friend dying from anything other than old age. Relating this scenario to them that way seemed a bit morbid to me. There was no reason to scare or upset my kids in order to point out that even a child can see discrepancies. They have also heard me discussing healthcare as of late and I wanted an unbiased reaction – I felt relating it to something they would really like to have and do made more sense and would get a more honest response.
Also – I need to make a correction. Congress isn’t “exempt”. Clearly that is not the proper word. Congress is not getting ‘exemptions’, they are getting preferential treatment. OPM will pay the majority of their premiums. So, they’re not exempt. They’re just letting us pay their premiums for them.