Priorities, Priorities

Just today many of us learned the sad ~ dare we say, angering ~ news that the U. S. Senate is recommending $1.7 billion in education cuts. Wow! Meanwhile, military spending is projected to hit right at $598.5 billion for fiscal year 2015. Not to be too terribly political here, because my readers know how I loathe being political (LOL), but does this not seem just a tad bit skewed? I mean, in trying to get spending under control, kind of like swatting a fly when you have a thousand cockroaches running around the house?

And this along with the considerations I mentioned in a previous blog article:

In 2013, there were 45.3 million people in poverty. For the third consecutive year, the number of people in poverty at the national level was not statistically different from the previous year’s estimate…

And importantly:

Many families in America’s struggling lower-middle class – defined to include those with income between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or between roughly $15,000 and $60,000, depending on family size and composition – live in economically precarious situations. Though not officially poor, these families experience limited economic security; one major setback in income could push them into poverty…

Nearly one in five American working-age families with children lives in poverty, officially defined as being below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Approximately 30 percent of families have incomes that place them between 100 and 250 percent of the FPL. Federal poverty thresholds vary by family size and composition, meaning that families with the same income, but with different household compositions, can be in different positions relative to the FPL… These families’ proximity to the poverty line means that any unanticipated downturns in income could push them into poverty. For this reason, we could reasonably consider these families to be the struggling lower-middle class.

discretionary_spending_pie,_2015_enacted[1]Some other interesting factoids to add might be that “according to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are 2,228,424 prisoners in the United States. That is enough to make the United States first in that category. The second highest number of prisoners is in China, at 1,701,344.” And yet “according to Pearson, the United States has a ‘cognitive skills and educational attainment’ score of 0.39, which makes the United States rank fourteenth out of forty countries ranked in that category.” Any connection? Likely so… But I’m not an expert sociologist, criminologist, or cultural analyst … still less an accomplished political scientist. So … what do I know? Well, as an average, ordinary, everyday kind of guy, I know we seem to have our priorities “upside-down, inside-out.”

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Touché! More poignantly, perhaps, is an old Tibetan proverb, which teaches, “A child without education is like a bird without wings.” Again, touché! There must be something to all of this, after all; so too, the Hebrew proverb comes to mind, to wit: “Train up a child in the way s/he should go, and when they are older they will not depart therefrom.” Continually slashing education expenditures, lowering the academic quality of education that is provided, and the astronomical number of men and women in U. S. prisons… Is there some connection here? Yes, methinks so, and all the while we spend well over 50% of our national budget on military and para-military equipment, operations, personnel, research and development, foreign engagements and/or defense, etc. And please do not imagine I am anti-military! I come from a family of military personnel, who have or are proudly serving our country in uniform. And I heartily support the brave women and men of the Armed Forces of this country, in which I am truly thankful to live. However … it’s still priorities, priorities! And we have ours screwed up right now!



4 thoughts on “Priorities, Priorities

  1. It’s crazy skewed. I love what you said, “like swatting a fly when you have a thousand cockroaches running around the house?”,

    1. So true, so very true, unfortunately. I believe the only way ~ idealistic, perhaps ~ is for people in general to truly understand that as a society we really do rise and fall together. Greed is not simply short-sighted; oftentimes, if not always, greed is blind AND blinding. If we cannot, and will not, help “the least of these,” our brothers and sisters, then we are not helping ourselves, the whole of our whole society. Thank you so much for your comments!

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