Saturday, January 31, 2015

Education A Political Football In The Scramble For Pentagon Contracts #SuperBowl

What could be more shameful than underfunding public education for an entire generation that is slipping into poverty a little deeper with each passing year?

How about using widespread support for public education as a political football in the battle to make sure Pentagon contracts keep rolling in.

Here's what the federal budget looks like under sequestration, a fiscal responsibility measure allegedly choking the life out of Pentagon fat cats aka big campaign donors.

The National Priorities Project has helpfully colored the 6% for Education slice of the pie bright orange to assist you in finding it. Realists know that quite a bit of federal spending on the military is also hidden in some of the other slices: nuclear weapons research and development is under Energy, for instance. Perhaps as much as 2/3 of the federal discretionary budget each year goes to military-related costs.

Now comes faux progressive President Obama with his latest budget proposing that the Pentagon get its sequestration funding back. But (here comes the smoke and mirrors) Education and other "non-defense" budget lines should also get their funding back, dollar for dollar.

In the Punch and Judy show that constitutes bi-partisan politics in our day, this gives the red state bad guys a chance to bloviate thus:

The above is a quote from a National Education Association email insisting that all good educators must rally round and defend President Obama's fine plan. As educated people you would think they could figure out where the potential funding for public education is going: to corporations. The lion's share goes to corporations who build weapons, or in the form of tax breaks to corporations who control the food supply, pollute the planet extracting oil or frack for "natural" gas. A small share goes, not to children themselves or teachers or school districts, but to corporations who profit from testing children and to other education-based money making schemes.

No stone is left unturned in the quest to make support for education pay off in massive campaign donations to people like Sen. Susan Collins. Here's a brag from the email newsletter she sent me this week:
Because releasing all that extra carbon into the atmosphere via the KXL will do so much to improve the future health and wealth of children attending school in more energy-efficient buildings.

The U.S. slips farther behind other nations in education investment and in learning attained with each passing year. How this bodes for our #1 national priority, which is supposedly SECURITY, seems not to trouble the educated middle class players who have clawed their way to being insiders in Washington DC. They are wealthy now, and the Koch brothers will keep them that way as long as they don't make the mistake of listening to constituents when voting on the federal budget. 

Because that budget would look like the piles of copper pennies in this chart (data is from 2011):

One in five children in the U.S. suffer from food insecurity while the rich -- especially those who build weapons -- keep getting much, much richer. Growing up in poverty adversely affects the ability to learn for life. Wasting the potential of at least 20% of your population is a recipe for a disastrous future. So is bankrupting the national treasury keeping General Dynamics and pals happy.
Source: Organizing Notes
Join the Spring Rising March 18-21 national mobilization to push back against endless wars and war spending. Because all our grandchildren deserve a better future than the one we're heading toward.

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