Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dare not...

The playground equipment at Millville Grade School was limited, to say the least. We had a two-seat swing set for grades 1 through 4, and a four-seat swing set for grades 5 through 8, although by the eighth grade none of the boys would be caught dead on the swing sets, unless they were swinging their girlfriend, or hanging from the cross bar to impress a prospective girlfriend. There were also a couple of teeter-totters if you didn't mind getting splinters in places where you couldn't see to pull them out, and a slide, which wasn't bad as long as you played on the slide before you played on the teeter-totter.

Since there were always more students than seats on the playground at recess, many of us were faced with the challenge of inventing our own entertainment, not always supervised, and probably not always within the boundaries of accepted social practices, even by Millville standards.

My old pal Stinky Wilmont was one of the best at making alternate entertainment a little more exciting. To the simple act of climbing the big mulberry tree, for instance, he would add the twist of shinnying out on the limb that hung over Summit Taylor's ash pile, lowering yourself to the fence that separated Mr.Taylor's property from the school yard, and then walking the fence down to the Lilac bush, all before Principle Baker finished his smoke break and came out of the furnace room and caught us in this presumably dangerous activity.

Now, under the Millville Grade School unwritten but understood playground code, Stinky could dare any of us to accept the challenge and complete the course. Doing so successfully would win the admiration of the rest of the gang. An unsuccessful attempt might draw the scorn of Stinky and Mr. Baker, but you could normally count on at least a little sympathy from the gallery.

From time to time, if the challenge seemed overly outrageous or dangerous, the daree could always issue a double-dare, (a precursor, I believe, of the now famous double-dog dare),to the darer, wherein the challenger had to complete the task first. Of course, this meant that the double-darer was now obligated to also complete the task, or risk the scorn of the entire student body.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. Our government is about to hand a bunch of taxpayer money over to the Big 3 automakers. $15 billion just to get them through March. We don't know how much the next installment will be.

When Congress told the CEO's of GM, Ford and Chrysler to come up with a business plan to justify this investment, they temporarily parked their private jets and drove back to Washington in electric cars. At least they were in the cars when the television cameras were rolling. I guess that's a plan.

O.K. Here's the deal. Congress is going to give them the money. Even though it doesn't have the authority to do so. Even though over 60% of the American public is opposed to it. Congress and the CEO's must see something in the plan that we don't see. And if they think it's a good plan, they should be happy to invest their personal money and savings into the companies.

In fact, we should double-dare Congress to do just that. We already know we're going to be forced to do it.

What do we have to lose?



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