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By Gina Channell Wilcox

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About this blog: I am President of Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division and the publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly, Dublin TriValley Views, San Ramon Express and Danville Express. As a 25-plus-year veteran of the media industry, I have experience...  (More)

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A Thanksgiving recipe for disaster

Uploaded: Nov 27, 2013
Howdy from Tennessee, where I'm visiting family for Thanksgiving. I have my parents, my daughter and just about all my aunts, uncles, cousins and long-time family friends together in one place, and we are having a blast catching up. And I am trying to relax.
Part of my relaxation is playing games on my iPad. Some require brain power – like Words with Friends and Flow Free – and I can justify my time playing because I am improving my vocabulary, spelling and critical thinking skills. Others, though, are total mind candy – like Candy Crush.

While crushing some candy this morning, and losing yet again, an ad popped up – which is normal – but it's not for Zillow or a new movie like I'm used to. It's asking people to vote for their favorite video out of about a dozen videos to convince young people to sign up for health insurance. This contest, with a first-place prize of $30,000, was co-sponsored by the Obama Administration, the Department of Human Services and the Young Invincibles, a non-profit organization that represents Americans between the ages of 18 and 34.

I admit I was irritated because I had been pulled back from relaxation to reality. While I understand that the Candy Crush crowd might be the target market, I didn't want that dose of what I consider propaganda - and probably very expensive propaganda paid for by taxpayers. Regardless of whether you are for or against Obamacare, we should all be concerned about how our tax dollars are spent and I can think of much better ways to spend it. I understand we need the young people to sign up for the program to pay for the older, less healthy people, and that they need to know about the program. But they do know, and instead of trying to convince them that it's wonderful – and paying a lot to do that – let the program stand on its own.

Then I found out that there is also some sort of mail campaign in which the White House has mailed some people a "how-to guide" on how to talk to family about Obamacare at the Thanksgiving dinner table when family and friends "look to you as a voice of reason." So exactly how much did this campaign cost? Again I say, whether you are for or against Obamacare, do we want tax dollars going toward marketing as opposed to, say, fixing the Exchange website or launching the small business site that has now been postponed for a year?

But beyond that, answer me this: What are the two topics you don't discuss at gatherings? If this topic comes up during Thanksgiving dinner in Tennessee with my extended family, I will be the first to derail it. It would be detrimental to our emotional health, but I understand that's covered under the Affordable Care Act.

If the topic of propaganda comes up, though, I make no promises.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 2, 2013 at 8:58 am

Gravy. Religion, politics, all good. But gravy? Gravy the way Mom made it vs. the new recipe? Off limits.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Gosh.....insurance companies would never use advertising to inform potential customers about the services they offer. I mean, everyone already knows that insurance exists. How unusual that government would do it........Duh.

Posted by Gina Channell-Allen, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

Dave, the difference is that when I choose an insurance company, I am aware that part of my dollars will go toward marketing. I did not choose to invest money into marketing the government's healthcare program. Like most of the taxpayers funding the ACA, I'm not even eligible and would prefer my tax dollars go toward something other than propaganda.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 11:03 am

Gina, any business knows that to make a product launch work you need to market it. Just because you're ideologically opposed to this one doesn't make it any different. There has been a PR campaign for every government program launched in the past 50 years, whether it's Medicare part D, "forever stamps" or the "war on drugs." That necessity is even greater when massive amounts of disinformation are being spread by ideological opponents of the policy who are actively trying to make the program fail. Web Link

So, yeah, fighting the right wing propaganda machine is a necessary part of getting anything done these days. Speaking of which, were you equally upset over the $24 billion flushed down the drain due to the Republicans in the House refusing to let government do its work unless their minority demands were met?

Posted by Your Uncle Sam, a resident of another community,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

Why? How much Waste Fraud and Abuse do you think your lousy $1.17 share will buy?

Tell you what -- I will personally drop-off a Moon-Pie or some other Tennessee delicacy (A chaw of Red Man? A shot of Jack?) at the PW World HQ as a refund, with the apologies of a healthier nation. .

Posted by Gina Channell-Allen, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 11:12 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

Huh?, Yes, I was equally as upset about the shutdown and the waste of taxpayer dollars. And as far as PR on Medicare Part D, etc., I don't remember as much money being spent or effort involved on those as on the ACA. (Maybe because those were acceptable to the people ultimately paying for them?) I'm sorry, but $30,000 for the first-place prize for the most persuasive video is a lot of (taxpayer) money.

Posted by Gina Channell-Allen, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 11:52 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

Your Uncle Sam, I don't understand your question. Have you been hitting the Tennessee moonshine?

Posted by Your Uncle Sam, a resident of another community,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Okay, here goes: you objected to your tax dollars being devoted to ACA promotion. I vastly overestimated your actual taxpayer's share of the total to be $1.17 (without sales tax), especially since you seem to be most concerned about a contest prize of $30,000. Unless you are a Walton, your actual tax contribution to that $30K is much closer to a penny.

That said, my promise to reimburse your loss on behalf of the Treasury still stands. So, what'll it be: the Red Man, the Jack or the Moon-Pie? Act fast -- a tax refund deal like this doesn't come along every day!

Posted by Gina Channell-Allen, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

Your Uncle Sam,
Don't you think my $1.17 could have been put to better use? What about your $1.17 (assuming you work and pay taxes)? What about fixing the website, which still isn't working properly and could use more security? How about launching the small business portal that has been postponed for a year? Or putting that money toward better care for our veterans at the VA hospitals?

I'd prefer the $30,000 go to any one of these options as opposed to being used as prize money. And think of what could be done with the thousands of dollars spent to try to convince people how great ACA is. What if they just prove it?

I'd also prefer coffee and pumpkin pie to Jack and a Moon Pie. You can keep your Red Man.

Posted by Your Uncle Sam, a resident of another community,
on Dec 4, 2013 at 8:30 am

I don't expect to agree with every decision made by my elected officials, and I have an aversion to obsessing over the truly trivial ones. For example, $30,000 buys about 20 seconds of the war in Afghanistan. When we focus sharply on a single pine cone, we lose all sense of the forest environment.

But you're on. Pie and coffee it'll be! Falalalala ... I have no idea where I'd have gotten the Red Man.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 5, 2013 at 12:08 am

Don't you just love the elitist put-down that right-wing writers like Gina sometimes resort to (the "assuming you work and pay taxes" comment that she slips in there)? As if only right-wing folks work or pay taxes.

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