GUEST COMMENTARY: 'Obamacare' and the end of the American work ethic
I was thinking of not doing a column this week.
Now that the White House has told us we shouldn’t have to keep a full-time job because of health care, I thought I’d do just one column a month.
I want to cut back my work hours so I can qualify for some of those federal subsidies that’ll help me pay for ObamaCare.
Better yet, I think I’ll quit working altogether and spend more time with my kids. Oh, I forgot. My kids are grown up and gone.
I also forgot I’m too old to qualify for President Obama’s latest government “freedom” — the freedom not to have to pay for my own healthcare and force taxpayers to pay for it instead.
Unless he adds convertibles and Mediterranean cruises to the list of things he thinks we all de-serve but shouldn’t have to pay for, the president’s perverse theory of labor comes 60 years too late to do me any good.
Where was he in 1955, when I was being brought up by the meanest parents in Beverly Hills?
When I told my mother Jane Wyman I wanted a fancy new blue 3-speed Schwinn bicycle like the ones the other rich kids all were getting, she told me if I really wanted a bike I should get a job to pay for it.
“Mom,” I said. “I’m only 10 years old. What kind of job can I get?”
She didn’t believe in Beverly Hills welfare. She told me to get a paper route. She loaned me the money for the bike, but she made me sign a promissory note. I was 10 years old and in debt to my mother.
I had to pay her back from the pennies I earned every Sunday morning selling copies of the Los Angeles Times in front of Good Shepard Church in Beverly Hills.
I realize now why my parents seemed so mean. They believed in training their children to go to work. I believe it used to be called “the work ethic.”
When I was a teen-ager in the early 1960s, I had to spend summers as a fry cook in a lodge at Yellowstone National Park.
I barely made enough money for beer and cigarettes, but if I wanted them I had to work full-time to pay for them myself.
If Barack Obama had been president then, he would have made sure I was entitled to subsidized ObamaBeer, not to mention a $10.10 minimum wage.
When I was 20, after I dropped out of college, my parents wouldn’t let me move back home. They told me to get a job and find my own place.
That’s why I was working on the dock at a trucking company for $2.10 an hour when my father became governor of California.
When I asked my father if he could get me a job in the state government, he said, “I don’t believe in nepotism.”
In the early 1990s, when I was buying health care for my family and putting my kids through school, I was trying to get a radio talk show started.
I commuted from L.A. to a station in San Diego three times a week — 262 miles roundtrip. For two years I did that commute every day — for what turned out to be little more than gas money.
When I called my mother to tell her how tough it was doing my talk show and asked for some help, she said, “You have to pay your dues like everyone else, so shut up and keep driving.”
I ended up getting a national talk show that I walked away from in 2009.
If Barack Obama had been president when I was making those long commutes, he would have said, “It’s OK, Mike. Turn around and go home. You deserve more freedom. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything.”
The president’s work “ethic” would have made my life much easier, but not better. I’m glad my “mean” parents knew that.
Send comments to [email protected]. Mike’s column is distributed by Cagle Newspapers Syndicate.