Monday, November 21, 2005

Choice: What a beautiful thing

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Imagine with me, if you will, that you just bought your first house. You are so excited. The rooms are spacious, the neighborhood lovely, and the surrounding community has the atmosphere of your dreams. The area is loaded with restaurants, museums, orchestras, and cultural opportunities galore. All to entertain and educate you and your children. You walk around your new home staring at boxes and dreaming of the future.

Suddenly, your dream is interrupted by a knock at the door. Wondering who it is, you peek through the door. It's a face you don't recognize. You greet the stranger warmly. He, however, looks all business. "Are you Mrs. Jones the new homeowner?"

"Why, yes I am. Is there a problem? Did my dog get loose? Buster come back!" You yell out the door. "Oh, he loves to explore. Just like my children. That's why we bought this house you know. There's so much to see and do. It's just wonderful. I can't wait to take them on Monday to the Chinese restaurant down the road. Have you been there?" You ramble on hoping to snag his interest and ease the tension in the air.

"No, I haven't and that's just what I'd like to talk to you about." He proceeds to explain that because you have purchase this house at 123 Maple you are only allowed to do certain things. You are only permitted to eat at one restaurant. - The Italian restaurant across the road. The only grocery store you can frequent is Jack's Pack and Save about 10 miles away. The only entertainment venue you can visit is the Starlight Theatre that shows second run movies and has an Elvis week once a month. He also informs you the foreign model car currently parked in your driveway is not permissible on county roads. But don't worry, there is a bus available to pick you up at a designated time if transportation is a problem.

"What do you mean?" You protest. "I can't eat there. I"m allergic to tomatoes. I don't like any of those choices you have selected for me. Why should I have to eat, shop, and entertain myself at those selections simply because I bought this house? And I can't drive my car. That's ridiculous. That's down right un-American. Isn't there anything I can do about it?"

The man smiles slightly and replies, "Sure, you can go pay each of those businesses assigned to your address a fee. We have set up an easy deduction system where the money is taken out of your pay each week. You won't even notice its gone. We have found that to be the best way to make sure that everyone's needs are taken care of equally. Then as long as your fees are paid up you are free to visit any other establishment of your choosing."

You are outraged. "If I pay those establishments I will have very little money left for my own choice. I can't afford both."

"Sorry, that's the way it is. Congratulations on your new home." He hands you a form to sign and leaves.

So if we would never accept this in any other area...why do we accept it in something as important as the education of our children?

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