As a national election approaches, it's a good time to reflect upon where your priorities are and how they align with the priorities of your government. A good place to start is with a little introspection. (Go ahead, I'll wait...)

Examining the priorities of a government is a bit more difficult, but a great place to start is with knowing where your tax dollars go_

Death and Taxes
(1.8 mb jpeg).

Let's focus on the left side of the graph first. 51% of our budget goes to military spending That represents a total greater than what the next five countries combined on spend their militaries. Also note that this total does not include the billions of dollars passed in other bills that are specially earmarked for operations in Iraq.

Some other points of interest_ 9 billion dollars for missle defense systems that don't work and aren't getting any better. 17 billion for maintenance on 6000 or so aging nukes. Russia has a comparable number and the next closest nation is France, with an estimated 350. Russia and the US are allies now, so why can't we cut back? (how many times can you scorch the same piece of earth?)

All criticisms aside, the bottom line is that, thanks to outrageous amounts of spending, the military capability of the US is by far, number one in the world.

All right, what about the right side of the graph? It consists of lots of domestic programs_ things like health care, education, and science. So how do we stack up in those areas? Very poorly, as it turns out.

The literacy rate of the US rate is only 49th in the world. The US ranks just above Mexico (22nd) in childhood poverty, and is ranked 41st in the world for infant mortality rates. Women are 70 percent more likely to die during childbirth here than in Europe. Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth, and the ID "debate" has other countries laughing their asses off at us.

These and other appaling facts reveal systems that are broken in some places and starved for funds in others. The take home message seems to be_ "We can't take care of our own residents, but man, can we kill a lot of foreigners."

Maybe we should pay teachers what they're worth. Maybe we should make sure that everyone has access to health care. Maybe we should quit sinking trillions of dollars into unprovoked wars.

Maybe it's just me, but I think it's time to listen to the left and shift the balance of that graph to the right.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower


Written by Mike Goodspeed -

I've come to the assumption that increasing teacher pay isn't going to get it done. I've got SO MANY friends that are teachers that can't get jobs. The money needs to go into the system. We need more classrooms. We need more buildings, and more school districts. My friends want to be teachers and they are stuck being hall monitors or being a sub until an old teacher dies or goes on maternaty leave.

Written by Chris -

I agree 100 percent. School infrastructure is definitely an important part of funding education adequately. In addition, kids need more personalized attention, which means lowering class sizes and hiring more teachers. It also means increasing teacher pay so that our best and brightest don't always end up in other professions. To most people, it's a no-brainer when they can make a lot more in business. Of course, that reflects a whole other set of priorities, but I'll save that for another post.

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