The Oregonian editors lament the latest round of cuts in education throughout the state of Oregon and puzzle over the absence of outrage among citizens who see their school systems eliminate staff, shorten the school year, and close schools.
But the editors hasten to add, lest anyone think they are crazy or something, “We’re not arguing that the federal government always and forever must prop up schools.”
Why not? Isn’t education a national priority? Didn’t we used to have politicians who bragged of being “the education president” or some hollow-sounding shit?
Let me invoke an old “lefty argument” — because that’s what some folks will call it, regardless of its merit — and point out the current state of our national defense spending. Total expenditures: Department of Defense + Iraq + Afghanistan + other (energy, more weapons, etc.) = between $880 billion and 1.3 trillion.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that Congress and the White House are beginning to think about maybe at some point to start cutting the defense budget as part of reducing the national budget deficit. I will believe it when I see it. However, the motivation reflects warped priorities. The article concludes that “a difficult switch from guns to butter – or guns to deficit reduction – is about to get under way.”
Emphasis mine. No butter, all deficit reduction. Anyone reading Krugman lately? The global austerity measures proposed at the G20 Summit this week are knee-jerk reactions to a deceitful narrative that places the blame for financial crisis on overspending, rather than on the investment and financial industry that sold everyone sophisticated instruments made of shit. As Krugman points out, we cut spending at the moment we need it most. History may show that spending — to help the unemployed, to create jobs, for research and development, to retrain workers — promotes economic recovery, but the economic conservatives who currently dominate the conversation are, like so many conservatives, pig ignorant about history. No surprise that the G20 Summit ended on a confused note.
We will go into stupid debt to finance wars we should not wage, but for education? Arts programs? School sports? Morning and after school day care? Modern facilities with decent heating during the winter? School supplies? Lab equipment? Field trips? Lunches that serve real food?
These deserve “always and forever” funding. Unless we suddenly lose the urge to procreate, we humans will continue to have new generations of students to edumacate. It’s that simple. Honest.