I had a slightly frustrating conversation today; someone told me in so many words that she doesn’t want people to be able to go to college for free because “well, we had to pay for ours!” taxes, but this didn’t even seem to be that. I think this person would be shocked if I called her mean-spirited, but that’s precisely what this sort of zero-sum thinking is: the fear that you are somehow losing out if someone else gets a benefit that you didn’t get. I can understand being envious when someone else gets something great; in a similar case, I’m still a little piqued myself that the free Birthright trips to Israel for young Jews didn’t start until I was too old for them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want other people to have the experience!

I can understand it better if someone doesn’t want to pay for other people’s tuition with an increase in their own taxes, because then it really does take (a tiny amount!) away from you – but isn’t that the cost we pay for living in a healthy society? No such thing as a free lunch; if I benefit from living in a civilized society it’s only reasonable to expect there to be costs as well. It can’t all me benefits for me-me-me or someone else is getting shafted. Personally, I’m happy to do pay for education because a) I don’t expect to notice a difference – fine, charge me an extra $1, I don’t care! and b) I expect to benefit more from living in a well-educated country than it will cost me.

I’m probably a little off-kilter today anyway – saddened to hear that a longtime online friend’s husband is in hospice care now. This is someone I’ve never met in person, but I’ve liked and admired her since probably the late 1990s. He’s 91 and has had health issues, so it’s not a surprise, but I don’t suppose that makes it easier for her. I’m feeling it a bit more because Ted’s parents came for a visit of the Labor Day long weekend, bringing his grandfather. The other grandfather has visited our lake house a few times, but this one hadn’t, and the in-laws really wanted him to see it. He’s 95 now; moving from the living room to the back deck is about as much distance as he can manage, everything hurts and he sleeps a lot. So it was good to see him and be able to have him visiting us, but a little sad too. I doubt he’ll be coming back. On the plus side he still lives alone, and has lots of people stopping by to visit every day – he spent as much time on his cellphone this trip as a teenager – so at least he still gets to enjoy his life!

Sorry, downer entry.