Time to raise education spending

Kyle Davis

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The United States’ federal budget: How does it work? At first glance, we may imagine politicians throwing money around every which way to please people. While this is partially true, it is a lot more organized than many people notice.

 Our federal budget is split up into three different areas. First, we have our interest payments, which, much like our federal government, we will decide to ignore for now.

 Second, we have “mandatory spending.” This is the stuff that we are required by law to spend. This may seem a little misleading or like we are “forced” to spend this money. In reality, politicians could change the laws and reallocate funds, but we’ll ignore this for now too.

 Third and last, we have discretionary spending. As its name would suggest, this spending is up to politicians’ discretion. They can allocate, debate and organize the funds however they wish. Usually, discretionary spending is split up into “military” and “nonmilitary” funds.

 Our federal government is required to release their budget and funds when they get the final copy out the door. After all the government shutdowns, hurt feelings and sweaty handshakes, we get to see where our politicians rest their priorities each year.

 Let’s take a look at the 2015 discretionary spending. We see that 54 percent of the budget is allocated to the military. There might be an understandable knee-jerk reaction to cut this down a bit. While we could in some areas, we have to be honest that our military is very expensive and useful. Our military aids in foreign disasters, ships supplies to other countries and is a major employer.

 Some of the other items include veterans’ health benefits which take up about 6 percent of the budget. This section is large but is understandable. Every year politicians go through a lot of pain trying to maintain appearances to soldiers and one way to do that is to run ads on how they supported veterans’ health benefits. Together, I would feel comfortable categorizing these as a holistic 60 percent military spending both abroad and when soldiers return home.

 Some of our lowest priorities are agriculture, transportation, labor and science. Education too is low considering the monumental pressure put on the educators of America. Consider President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). NCLB was the monumentally horrific idea to hold schools at gunpoint unless their children could hit a benchmark on a rather useless test. Nowhere on this test were social sciences, history or civics. Now we see this “do more with less” attitude towards education only continuing through 2015.

 My argument is that we need more money for education and science as deducted from military expenditures. That money should come from third-party contracts and money that would be earned by retiring old technologies and vehicles from the military. We do not need over a thousand Blackhawk helicopters and over 200 target drones.

 Why science and education? Well, these two items together work hard to produce all of the technological and world-changing things that hit the market. From The Ohio State University recently allowing a paralyzed man to move his hands again, to the groundbreaking work in the cancer field coming out of Harvard, education funding is behind it all.

 Science funding, too, is on the horizon. Just think about it. The United States of America was the first nation to put a man on the moon. The moon! The giant thing up in the sky that, for millions of years, animals looked at — an American was the first to hop across it.

 We are on the cusp of reaching Mars. How monumentally awesome would it be that in our lifetime we were to witness such a thing as someone strolling across for Mars? Why stop there? Only our budget is holding us back from these fascinating historical landmarks.

 We propel rockets into foreign cities when we could be propelling them into the cosmos. We hire foreign contractors to do our jobs when universities want to learn how we can do them better. Every jet that burns fuel flying into a foreign land is effectively burning the books for millions of children who may have the cure for cancer trapped within their heads.

 The discretionary spending comes down to priorities. We need to, as a country, learn to spend smarter. If this is not possible then we need to tax higher. I would be a fan of both, for the sake of our future education and quality of life.