Get our newsletters

Chatterbox: An alternate ad“vantage” point


Every once in a while a crazy, unprecedented, out-of-the-box idea comes to some member of society. We may get scoffed at, but this is how innovation works and change occurs.

Ideas don’t always involve moving parts either. They aren’t all invention. Of course, we all know that, and every day we all use and participate in things that were created and put into place by other people, or groups of other people. None of us can get through a single day without nearly everything we do, witness and utilize having come from some other person, most from some other time.

Personally, I think it should be law that our prejudice should dictate what we can utilize each day. For example, if we don’t believe in racial equality, we shouldn’t be able to use anything invented, created or manufactured by any member of the race we discriminate against. That would open lots of minds, but that fodder is for another column.

Today, we deliver an innovative idea that will no doubt produce much scoffing but, hopefully, also a little consideration outside the box.

As age advances and catches us by the heels, usually weighing us down to some degree, lights in our head go on everywhere. In Chatterbox, Oct. 30, 2003, we talked about where we should be instead of high school, and when we should be in high school as opposed to being there through our insecure and erratic teen years when our ability to focus is somewhat compromised. I still believe that unconventional scheme is a far better plan than the one we’re using.

In Chatterbox, May 10, 2007, we talked about a real college town and the frightening, too enlightening, impromptu campus visit every parent should make before sending a child off to get a higher education – anywhere.

In 1940s America, most high school graduates were lucky they got that far. Of their kids, many, but not most, went to college. Today, about 70 percent of high school graduates in America attend college. Of course, now, for any real job advancement, post-grad work is a must, and we knew that would eventually happen.

The college tab, even without advanced degrees, is estimated to be something today’s college grads will be paying unto their own retirement. It’s incredible and sad especially considering that dozens of nations around the world provide free college, but again, that’s for another column.

Insomuch as that we can write a check even after retirement, let’s do it. If we’ve saved anything for our college education, or for our kids, thinking we’re doing ourselves or them a favor by paying up front, let’s think again. Let’s consider a lifetime of paying that college tuition. Let’s break open the nest egg. Why not?

There’s something just as educational that none of us can do when our health is failing: travel. In fact, we could even split the difference since traveling is actually less expensive than college is in America today.

The world, its people, its topography, and the differences in music, religion, food, and architecture are, too, educational. However, traveling is something we can’t navigate when we’ve lost our good knees, suffer from incontinence or memory loss, are in assisted living, or are dealing with college tuitions for our own kids (who should also be traveling anyway). Paying a bill we can do from anywhere and in almost any kind of health.

This plan is, at least, worth considering. We could give ourselves or our children the gift of this magnificent world in lieu of a free ride at “Harry” (the fake name for that real college every parent needs to see before writing that first tuition check).

We all know that anything we work for we appreciate more. A college education that the student is paying for, even in part, is one the student works harder at in real time and more greatly appreciates retrospectively. So, let’s take some of that college money and spend it traveling the world while we, or our kids, still have the health to carry a backpack, jump on and off trains, sleep in a youth hostel, and hike a mountain. Travel shouldn’t be optional, or even delayed.

If I had it to do over, I’d let my kids spend their later years writing checks for at least some of their college tuition and give them the world instead. It’s another unconventional scheme but a very worthy one that makes “Harry” look even worse than it is … if that’s possible.