I admit it. If you want to make me laugh, two things will do it everytime: Schadenfreude and irony.
As you may know, schadenfreude is laughing at other people's misfortunes. Obviously, not all misfortune, but few things give me more anticipation than hearing someone say, "Hey, watch what I can do."
A few years ago, I watched a video of a teen trying to ride his skateboard down a heavily slanted roof onto a handrail down some steps. His goal was to slide on his board sideways down the rail. He left the edge of the roof at a pretty decent rate of speed. Unfortunately for him, his skateboard found the roof's gutter and decided that was as far as it wanted to go. The teen, however, ended up exactly where he wanted to go, straddling the rail. Since he did so without his board, it didn't end the way he hoped.
I swear I passed out from laughing so hard.
Irony has several meanings — none of which are understood by Alanis Morrisette — but my favorite from Miriam Webster is "a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected."
A great example is the current situation the Illinois High School Association finds itself in. There have been accusations of having too large a staff to get things done and mismanaging their money, not filtering as much of it to where it should actually go, in this case to schools.
The IHSA is a not-for-profit, private organization (which I never would have guessed), and one might think as such, it might be investigated by the Better Business Bureau or the Illinois Attorney General.
Instead, it's being investigated by members of the Illinois General Assembly. Yes, the same Illinois General Assembly that has a long, well-documented history of filling jobs with lazy relatives to the point of bloated staffing and mismanaging money. (I'm just guessing, but I wouldn't be surprised if per capita, the Illinois state debt is higher than the federal debt.) And currently owes the state's schools millions of dollars.
Pot, meet kettle.
As a sidenote, there is a bill going through the Illinois General Assembly — Senate Bill 16 or the School Funding Reform Act of 2014 — which would take funding away from schools that are performing well fiscally — which would be most of the schools in the area — and giving it to schools that are not performing well fiscally.
So, not only does the state government do exactly what it's accusing the IHSA of — withholding money from schools — but now it wants to penalize schools that are doing the opposite of what the government does — being fiscally responsible.
That's ironic. The only problem is, I'm not laughing. But I bet your congressman is.
Ken Schroeder can be reached at email@example.com.
Ken Schroeder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.