Spending Priorities

In light of today’s article, Social Security Fund Will be Drained by 2037, I’ve been thinking about our spending priorities.

This pie chart is insightful, considering the backlash against the Health Care Bill. There is little outcry about military spending. When will that run out? Whatever side one may fall on in the political spectrum, it is clear that our government is doing little to invest in the future. The 5% total going towards education and scientific and technological innovation makes that most evident. The question of education raises a number of important issues. The reality is that we don’t have a constitutional right to an education. Education is really the domain of the states, with education funds coming from local property taxes. This, within itself, leads to social inequality and injustices against women like Kelly Williams-Bolar. She broke the rules in order to ensure their children quality education and registered her kids at her father’s address. Now she is a convicted felon and her career is destroyed. Education is becoming less and less of a priority on both a state and federal level. Five states spend more on prisons than higher education. As the New York Times Article, Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid, points out:

One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole or probation, at a cost to the states of $47 billion in 2008, according to a new study.

Criminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data. Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which quadrupled in the past two decades, according to the report Monday by the Pew Center on the States, the first breakdown of spending in confinement and supervision in the past seven years.

I don’t think that either Party has the puzzle solved. We definitely need to get our spending priorities right and invest in improving our country. Otherwise, it is clear where we’re going.

3 thoughts on “Spending Priorities

  1. Yes, this is truly disheartening but not really shocking, unfortunately. I’ve been thinking about these issues alot-for my research and in light of your post on BAM converts and financial instability.

    I’ve been reading late 19th century African- American literary representations of Reconstruction that engage with the question of what place education should play in the quest for citizenship. And in this literature the spectre of incarceration and the prison already rears its ugly head.

    For instance, in Frances Harper’s Iola Leroy (1892) while the characters pose education as the path to citizenship and self-empowerment they already are bemoaning the fact that the prison system is already preying on the young.

    Similar to how the system of sharecropping worked as a means to compromise any full citizenship that African-Americans could obtain, to place them in a state of perpetual debt, it is interesting to think about how at the same time that public education for blacks folks was being debated this other system of incarceration was (aggressively) replacing that of chattel slavery.

    It seems that our priorities have been compromised for quite a long time. Sigh.


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