There are some apparent contradictions that have always amazed me.
For example, I've often been fascinated by so-called women's magazines that have big headlines on the cover about new diets and then page after page of recipes for "decadent" deserts.
I've never quite understood why we wax so long and poetic about the importance of good teaching but value teachers and their training so lightly. Ditto on those who care for seniors and infants.
Recently, another head-scratcher turned up. It was the discussion about increasing fees at public golf courses in Lexington or closing some or using public golf to subsidize private operators.
How could that happen in an era when every third word is about healthful lifestyles, more trails and bike lanes, about encouraging an active lifestyle?
I don't golf. Other than miniature courses, I've been on golfing venues maybe three or four times in my life. In all likelihood, neither I nor anyone in my family will ever play a round of golf on one of Lexington's public courses.
But it seems to me that we either have a commitment to public recreation or we don't.
One of the remarkable items of information that emerged from this discussion is that the golf courses had an $11,000 operating deficit for all of last fiscal year. This in a city budget that runs to $274 million and a parks and recreation budget of $18.4 million. It's hard to even express it as a fraction of either of those.
To get some sense of comparison I typed "cost of obesity" into a search engine. Quickly these projections for 2018 emerged from the 2009 America's Health Rankings, an annual assessment of health on a state-by-state basis:
■ Medical bills for an obese person will run an average of $2,460 more annually than those for an adult at a healthy weight.
■ If the percentage of obese adults remains at the current 34 percent, then excess weight will cost the nation about $198 billion.
■ Kentucky is one of six states where more than 50 percent of the population could be obese.
Do the math and public courses seem like a better investment than Microsoft 20 years ago.
But the economic argument kind of misses the point anyway.
To me, the discussion about privatizing golf while touting the Bluegrass 10K, holding Second Sundays and building trails is simply a contradiction. I don't get it.
We need it all.
Cities, after all, weren't organized to turn a profit. Cities exist to provide services.
The most basic, of course, are related to safety issues that arise when a lot of people live near each other: police and fire protection, traffic control, sewage systems.
Beyond that, though, we've long recognized that public recreation is a public service worth the investment of our tax dollars. It's a great thing about this country, and this community, that we've invested in public parks open to everyone.
The cost/benefit analysis for a public facility isn't the same as for a private venture.
One benefit of public recreation venues is a sense of community. They literally draw us out of our cars and our homes into the public where we encounter people who wouldn't ordinarily cross our paths.
Parents who've spent hours at the park with young children form connections, have conversations, exchange stories.
They may come from very different walks of life and have different native languages, they might not ever even know each other's names but they connect in that public space.
The ability to play, walk, run or simply sit and relax in a pleasant, safe, open place at no cost is a commitment to equal opportunity.
I'm not suggesting that taxpayers hand public parks or golf courses a blank check. Accountability at every level and in every department is one of the most fundamental of the obligations that arise from collecting taxes.
But so is thoughtful planning to achieve a community's goals, to make its values a reality.