Brownies, budgets, what’s the difference?

As I sit here watching another rainy summer day go by, I find my thoughts unaccountably turning to the legislative session that just ended.  I find myself trying to think of all the possible reasons why this session turned out as crazy as it did.

I understand that money is tight. I understand that politicians, by virtue of their trade, never want to actually be pinned down to anything that might cost them a vote or lose them a contribution. I understand that statesmen are the exception and not the rule in politics.  But still, am I the only one trying to figure out how that many people could have spent that many hours generating that much hot air and still arrived at no greater conclusion than to continue down the merry road we have chosen of ignoring fiscal realities?

And then the answer occurred to me.  Brownies.  The answer is brownies.

See, I’m on the board of an organization that shall remain nameless for soon to be obvious reasons.  This organization hosts a monthly luncheon.  Since no one in this organization could ever be accused of putting money first, it is probably not a surprise to find out that we often lose money on these luncheons.

This has led to some fascinating debates at our board meetings about how to deal with the gap between our revenues and expenditures without causing anyone pain or discomfort through charging more or offering less.  In essence, this group of about 12 people is grappling with the same problem that our legislature grappled with this past session.

Over the past three meetings, the subject of brownies has reached icon status.  Our recording secretary is routinely congratulated for having successfully made sense out of the last impassioned debate on this subject. Which, of course, brings the subject up again. Which starts the cycle again.  Except that we’ve now reached the point where we can laugh at our own inability to easily resolve the infamous brownie issue.

Do we continue to serve the brownies as a option and figure we’ll just eat the loss for so long as we have a positive bank balance? Or do we try to find a way to generate enough revenues to cover their costs?  It’s hard to believe how many points of view there can be on this simple topic and how many solutions have been proposed. 

Should we switch the coffee and dessert only option to coffee and salad only?  Are there those in our audience who would take advantage of this bargain offer and snarf down enough salad to bankrupt us in short order?  Should we just eliminate all options other than a full lunch? Would that move eliminate some of our poorer brethren like students from participating? And if we eliminate the brownies altogether, should we lower the general luncheon price to reflect the loss of an after lunch sugar high?

You may not consider this a burning question in the general scheme of things. And frankly, neither does the group involved in the debate. Yet somehow when the topic of what to do about the brownies arises, as it inevitably does, the debate begins anew.  And I figure if 12 people sitting around a table discussing the merits of “Brownies – Yes or No” can take up a good part of three meetings, imagine what 60 men and women can find to discuss about the problem of solving a billion dollar budget deficit. It’s no wonder they haven’t been able to come up with a solution to the deficit. In fact, it’s a wonder everything didn’t turn out worse than it did – though I admit that would be hard to imagine.  Of course, the difference between the legislature and my group is that the legislators are being paid to make the hard decisions. You’d think they would feel some obligation to the people paying their salaries.

I know for a fact that no one involved in the critical brownies issue has ever been offered even one brownie to buy their vote. And thank goodness for that. Because I fear most of us would be found with chocolate all over our faces. 

Hey, money is money but brownies are forever.