(I have 3 seemingly unrelated topics to write about: let’s see if I can tie them together with a pretty thematic bow. Also, the auto-spellchecker is broken, so prepare yourself for typos)
We’ll start off with the blood and guts story, since that always revs up a crowd. The wife went in for minor foot surgery on Friday, to remove a mysterious lump on the ball of her right foot. Surgery went well, foot is recovering, and I am once again reminded of how much I value our healthcare system. The cost of this surgery, if we would have paid for it ourselves, would have been more than the total health care premium we’ve paid in the last 5 years. Without our public healthcare system, we would have had to delay the surgery until we could afford it, forcing my wife to walk around in pain until then. So, to everyone who pays their taxes every year, even the most adamant anti-tax people who rail against the immorality of taxation, thank you for paying your share and helping my family.
Speaking of taxes and paying for things, have you noticed how many different people are asking you for money recently? Part of that is a natural consequence of the season, the time of year when generosity is expected and so organizations make their big ask as Christmas approaches, and that’s always going to happen. But above and beyond that, there’s an expanding lineup of people asking for a donation, friends and family asking for 5 dollars here and 10 dollars there for a wide range of causes. It’s great to see so many people engaged and out there promotng their concerns, but there’s an easily met threshhold for how much fundraising the average person can handle before shutting the door to any new requests. And, time spent fundraising competes directly with work done in other areas to help the cause. Here’s an idea to chew over: the amount of individual fundraising you are subjected to is inversely related to the level of taxation. When we tax in a way that raises enough money to adequately fund the services we want, the gaps between services and needs are reduced. Here’s a specific example:
Several teachers that I’ve spoken to have talked about having to invest their own money to provide a fully equipped classroom. We’re not talking about iPads for each student or a fancy robot to sharpen your pencil crayons, we’re talking about basic supplies, like toys for a kindergarten class. The good teachers know what they need to effectively teach their students, and they pay out of their own pocket to cover the gap. But that can only happen for so long before the sacrifice to their own personal finances becomes too high, so the school has to institute their own fundraising efforts, innundating the parents with requests for money. The end result is that the parents resent the constant requests, the good teachers get tired of being underfunded and they quit, and the kids don’t get the education they deserve. So, before you launch into another round of weeping about being “over-taxed” and demanding tax cuts and freezes, remember that any reduction in the taxes paid will add to the lengthy line of people who will be asking you for money.
During a trip to the central library today I witnessed an angry meltdown from a fellow in the hallway. He was being escorted from the hall outside of the library by a security guard while bellowing about whatever injustice had him so upset. I thought for a moment about what kind of assistance I could provide, but I had the little duded with me, so any kind of direct conflict resolution involvement was out of the question. And as I walked away from the noise, I wondered what could really be done to fix the situation. It’s really unlikely that the angry fellow was reacting in an appropriate way to being asked to stop whatever he was doing. Whatever the reasons for his rage, they didn’t start at the library, so simply saying “hey, shouting is uncool. Stop and let’s resolve your issue calmly” wouldn’t have done much good. You can easily imagine a chain of frustrating and humiliating events leading up to a blowup at the public library, events brought on by circumstances and by his own poor choices. The final result is that he’s shouting at an aged security guard over something inconsequential, and he can’t stop himself. I’ve seen the same kind of emotinal explosion with the little dude. If he’s really tired, and he’s had a very long and emotionally taxing week, he’ll get to the point that something, anything really, will set him off and send him into weeping hysterics. And when I ask him why he’s upset he’ll cry harder and wail “I don’t know”. We’ve all been there. I’m going to re-use the quote from Hugh MacLennan, because I think it fits this situation too:
“…there is no simple explanation for anything important any of us do, and that the human tragedy, or the human irony, consists in the necessity of living with the consequences of actions performed under the pressure of compulsions so obscure we do not and cannot understand them.”