Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Self-Centered Doesn't Mean Properly Balanced

There are times when a person has to face harsh realities. This is one of those times. I did some soul searching recently and came to a conclusion which does not put me in a good light. I’m selfish. Truly, there are times I am a real clam and just last Wednesday I was a full-fledged mollusk. Wait a minute. I think I got that mixed up. Those things wouldn’t make me a selfish person. Those things would make me a shellfish person. Anyway, I realized I have stronger selfish impulses than I thought. The issue is not that these impulses exist or that I too frequently follow through with them. The friction in my emotional life is I hardly ever allow myself to act on them.

There are the selfish impulses that no member of a civilized society should act upon. Like the ones which occur when the person talking to you is blathering on about some molehill they have morphed into something of Everestian proportions. You know the selfish impulse I mean. The one which plays out in your mind like this: you take a sock full of lime Jell-O and give the person a solid clout across the chops. I would never behave in such a violent manner. (Well, other than that one time I socked a man in Reno just to watch him cry.)

The problem is I am a fully grown responsible upstanding member of society and we all know how much that stinks. There is just enough of the old puritanical work ethic existing in me to cause me to deny myself the base pleasures of life. This means I can’t buy the latest sports car to satisfy my desire to be genuinely cool (people who know me just giggled because the sports car wouldn’t do it). Instead I have to make sure my children have food, shelter and proper medical care. What a bummer.

All whining aside, I have to say I will never be in the major leagues of selfish behavior. I would have to go a long way to rival such top tier selfish people as the stars of reality television shows, your average toddler and what now seems to be the most myopic group of ego-centric folks moving amongst us, politicians.

(There will now be a slight pause as I climb onto my soapbox.)

My father had a way of describing certain folks. “They know the price of everything but the value of nothing.” This describes the Kansas legislature. They are consistently all excited about cutting taxes so they can appear heroic to the people who will vote them back into office. However they fail to realize government needs money in order to do the things which are of genuine value for the greater good of the state.

Case in point: education. The state has cut funding to education. Let me rephrase that. They have cut funding to children. The amount promised to each Kansas student was cut almost 13% and this was after districts made their budgets. (I don’t know about you but if my paycheck was cut 13% I’d have to re-do my budget quite a bit and we’re not just talking about eating out less often.)

The Kansas 2010 Commission was created a few years back, when the Supreme Court called the legislature on the carpet for shirking its Constitutional requirement of adequately funding schools. Its job was to investigate education in Kansas and describe its needs. The legislature authorized the commission and then promptly ignored everything it said. They ignored it because it stated in no uncertain terms that the legislature was derelict in its mandate to properly fund students in this state.

This brings me back to the selfish theme. The people we elect to do the unpleasant things and be the grownups are not squashing their selfish impulses. They want the sports car. They have created over a billion dollars in tax breaks over the last few years (according to the 2010 commission) which would have paid for much of the education budget promised but then reneged upon. I venture to bet that they did so to get re-elected not because it was the responsible thing to do.

My suggestion is if the people in Topeka decide to cut funding to children yet again (which is quite probable) we all get our Jell-O socks and knock some sense into them. I know this is a humor column but this time I’m not kidding.

No comments: