April 28, 2018
Striking Teachers and Defense Budgets:
Why Ignore Americans?
In case you’ve missed it, thousands of teachers have gone on strike in the past few months in West Virginia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona.
They are walking out to protest inadequate wages for them; they also protest inadequate education budgets. Many of them purchase basic school supplies like pencils, erasers, and paper for their students—out of their own, personal monies.
How does this relate to the US defense budget?
As of January 2017, we were spending more money on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UK, France and Japan combined. The United States has historically devoted a greater share of its economy to defense than many of its key allies.
Where does the money from our federal taxes go?
As of fiscal year 2015, the US budget came to $3.8 trillion. This amounted to around $12,000 for every woman, man and child in the country.
The US Treasury, run by but one of the many corrupt officials in Trump’s cabinet, divides spending into three categories: mandatory (obvious), discretionary (kind of obvious) and interest on debt (stupid).
Lemme get rid of stupid first. We pay around ten percent of the overall budget on paying back debt, offset by interest income received by government assets. Seems like too much, don’t ya think?
But it gets worse:
In 2015, military spending amounted to nearly 54 percent of the total discretionary spending, some $600 billion.
Spending on education came to around six percent, or $70 billion.
Think on it: $600 billion on defense; $70 billion on education.
The US department of defense’s (DOD) motto runs something like:
Absolute Mastery of Every Conceivable Battlefield Situation
If you are male, and still remember when you turned 14, you’d probably have thought that an AWESOME saying.
Dominate every situation!
However, and thankfully, not that many American citizens are 14-year-old males.
More importantly, why devote such incredible resources to protect American citizens if you are not taking good care of them?
Consider these few other recent statistics:
According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a 2015 survey places us at an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math. We reached the equally disturbing 24th in science. Within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA test and consists of 35 country-members, the US ranks 30th in math and 19th in science.
Thirty out of 35 countries educate their students better than us!
Don’t you find it horrifying?
How well do we care for the health of our citizens?
One common measure is infant mortality rate, and here are the stats there:
The infant mortality rate of US citizens runs around 4 per 1000 births, a higher rate than Canada, Switzerland, the UK, France, Austria, Netherlands, and Germany.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), which gathers information on health status, health access, and similar objective measures, the US ranks a horrible 130th out of 190 countries.
From my nearly four decades of work as a psychologist, I personally know of the limited resources available for obtaining mental health services—particularly if you are poor. Of course the same goes for health more broadly defined and, sadly, for educational services as well.
All this information leads to the following conclusion:
Much greater resources need to be devoted to supporting our own people, including our immigrants.
What good is a great defensive structure if you ignore the basic needs of your own people?
Would you be pleased to have an excellent immune system if you were starving and uneducated?
Of course not.
Perhaps it’s time for teachers across the nation to stand up for their rights, and their students’ rights, so that our leaders finally get the point.
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Alan Karbelnig, PhD, ABPP