Monday, October 03, 2011

Pitiful money pits and bar smoke

So I was reading this article about what it means to be a success, but then I gave up. I’m sure if I hadn’t given up, it would have told me to never give up. But I couldn’t get past this sentence:

Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten.

Really? That’s just exorbitant. Even taking into account the fact that these are New York sophisticates with too much money and too little common sense.

Forgive me for not identifying. I tend to roll my eyes at people who buy birthday presents for their pets, let alone spend nearly three times the price of my car so their kid can maybe learn to count to five.

I went to Head Start for a year and a half. It theoretically served a purpose for me, because I had been (mis)diagnosed as a slow learner. I spent my days with a small crew of students with various learning and/or physical disabilities. We sang songs, said our names, drew pictures, played extremely simple games, read words from flash cards, sang a song about colors that I still know to this day, learned about food, cars and careers and occasionally pretended we were animals. And slept on blue cots. And drank water as a class. You get the idea. It was important for our development. Most of the class would struggle with these lessons well into adolescence and beyond. They needed to be there, and were fortunate to have the program available.

Even then, I doubt we cost the taxpayers $35 large a pop. These people are willing to blow far more than I’ve ever made in a year not because their kids need the help, but so they can scrawl it on their resumes in crayon. (And hopefully stay inside the lines while doing it.) For that price, I hope they give the little brats Evian and privacy curtains for their cots/waterbeds.

After reading this, I thought back to a Facebook debate I entered into this weekend. One of the usual suspects decried a Louisiana group’s current effort to ban secondhand smoke in the workplace; the group argues, as I often have, that it’s a workplace safety issue and not some dastardly affront to freedom. My friend’s take on the issue is that businesses should be allowed to do whatever they want and if employees/nonsmokers don’t like it, then they can quit/not patronize the establishment. To my impressed surprise, a couple of other people had my back on that one, saying that the whole work-it-or-leave-it attitude is especially inappropriate in this rough economy. For the most part, though, the participants in the thread argued that any job is worth a little cancer risk. At least at the service level.

I understand both of these issues equally, which is to say, not at all. Why do we have such a class disparity in this country that the rich can sweat over the pedigree of their preschoolers, while even the middle class among us don’t care enough to fight for the safety of an entire work sector? Why is a private, $35,000 pre-K a thing? Why is a universal smoke-free workplace not a thing? I’m not sure of the answers, but I suspect that a society getting its needs met doesn’t factor into either. When you’re rich, you’ll do anything to keep up; when you’re not rich, you think the need for more “freedom” is what’s holding you back, safety or sanity be damned.

I wish I understood the thinking behind either issue. On second thought, I’m glad I don’t.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was enrolled in Catholic school, the monthly tuition went up to $35.00a month. My parents were beside themselves and I was transferred to public school. $35.00 a month indeed.