Silver lining

Friday, March 25, 2011

Look on the bright side.

That's the advice optimists give. And they're right. Life is better when you truly believe storms exist so we can marvel at the sight of a rainbow.

My wife and I have patiently waited a long time for grandchildren. Our sons don't seem to take notice. We have waited so long, in fact, that we pretty much gave up. We stopped being optimists.

But a couple of weeks ago my wife said something that changed our perspective regarding grandchildren -- or the fact that we don't have any. My wife is not only lovely; she's smart too.

I can't remember her exact words, but she said something to the effect that grandparents with oodles of grandchildren also have oodles of worries. Because we don't have grandchildren, we shouldn't have to worry about them either.

There you go. The bright side.

Think about it.

* We will never have to explain to our nonexistent grandchildren why U.S. military forces are fighting three wars for reasons that aren't exactly clear to most Americans. The latest war, against that goofy guy in Libya, is so tenuous that we don't even know who's in charge. Shouldn't we? At least our grandchildren don't have to fret.

* We won't have to explain why our grandchildren will have to work until they die because there is no money for Social Security or Medicare. Sorry, your grandparents took it all. Well, actually we didn't. Our government did. And it spent the money on everything under the sun but not on the elderly. Government gets to make its own rules. Since we don't have grandchildren, we aren't obligated to tell them, "Don't act like your government."

* We won't have to explain why city officials asked voters to approve millions of dollars in new spending and taxation for things like water parks when what we really needed was a new plant to make the waste water we dump into the river cleaner than the water we take out of the river. Now we have to pay for the water park AND pristine sewage.

* We don't have to explain why we're voting to ban smoking in public places. If we really believe smoking kills, why aren't we voting to ban the growing of tobacco and the manufacturing of deadly tobacco products?

* We don't have to explain to our grandchildren that "trust" is, in the real world, untrustworthy. The city made a big show of telling us how it would spend scads of money from a casino. We were supposed to "trust" the city to keep its word, and, in return, we city voters would allow casino gambling in our church-filled community. Now that we've said yes to the casino, the city feels free to pull a switcheroo on spending that money -- this time to pull the city's butt out of a costly bond issue for an airport building that has been an albatross around taxpayers' necks for years. So much for "trust." But that won't affect our grandchildren. We don't have any.

My day is looking up. How about yours?

My wife and I, like many of you, don't have a lot of other things. For example, we don't own a private jet, so we don't have to worry about paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal property taxes -- payments that somehow were overlooked by one of our U.S. senators who has a law degree and everything.

We don't have huge income tax bills, because we don't have a huge income. Consequently, we don't have to come up with very many tax dodges. Taxwise, we are fortunate folks.

My wife and I are blessed to be without grandchildren and scads of money. We will keep looking for rainbows. We will make the best of whatever comes our way.

And, God, would it hurt if "whatever" included a couple of grandkids?

My wife and I don't give up easily. Why should we?

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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