Saturday, March 19, 2011

Should Sellersburg Indiana Bite the Bullet?

HARBESON: Biting the bullet is tough to swallow

SELLERSBURG — Last month, I wrote a column regarding Sellersburg’s possible purchase of the privately owned Nolan Fieldhouse, so when I heard there was going to be a town meeting at the fieldhouse to discuss the issue, I decided to attend.

The place was bubbling with activity — kids playing, adults chatting. I noticed many people in attendance wearing identical T-shirts. I knew there was something important written on those shirts because women don’t wear neon lime green without a very good reason.

The print was hard for me to see but after staring at several women’s chests as they walked by, hoping I didn’t look too strange, I finally got a good look. It said, “Bite the bullet; buy the Fieldhouse.”

I’m not sure who was supposed to be the intended recipient of that message. In general usage, the phrase “bite the bullet” means to endure a painful or otherwise unpleasant situation that is seen as unavoidable.

However, that doesn’t fit this situation because increasing government spending by purchasing this private property is certainly avoidable — all the town has to do is, well, nothing. (The town did not vote to purchase the building at this meeting, but they did vote to continue pursuing the idea.)

Several “green shirts” spoke during the meeting. Many were parents and grandparents of children who directly benefit from the facility. They were sincere, articulate and passionate about the benefits their families received. These families attended this meeting because they love the fieldhouse and want to keep using it.

Of course, there were also many families who did not attend this meeting. Families who were busy with activities their children enjoy and benefit from, using facilities and equipment they worked hard to purchase with their own money and through private fundraising efforts. In short, families who were elsewhere simply because their interests do not mesh with a fieldhouse.

But never mind them; this is about families who want Sellersburg’s taxpayers to buy this facility. Can you guess the main talking point in favor of this increased government spending? It was, of course, “the children.”

Although many people spoke in favor, two ladies in particular did an exceptionally fine job of using the children, as they scolded and attempted to instill guilt in any town resident who attended hoping to halt government growth.

This really wasn’t quite fair. After all, these two ladies have more experience than most in telling people it’s a good idea to turn privately funded alternatives over to government because they were instrumental in morphing what was previously a private school into the now government-funded Rock Creek charter school.

As they continued to promote government ownership of the fieldhouse, one of them lectured the crowd on developmental assets, the name for the set of values used to develop curriculum in their government school. I must be a slow learner because I’m still not clear which asset supports government over private voluntary means to achieve goals.

Even so, I do agree wholeheartedly about doing things “for the children.” As a matter of fact, in this situation I can think of at least three.

First, we can explain to children why dependence and reliance on government causes problems — economically, morally and socially. Second, we can help our children understand that one family’s interests are not more important than another’s.

And perhaps most important of all, we can explain to children that while it’s one thing to promote the idea that some may want to voluntarily chomp on a bullet in the hopes of reaching a goal, it’s quite another to use government and force other people to bite one.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson wonders if there is ever a good reason to wear neon lime green.

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