Priorities (OR Putting things in perspective)

As is becoming my habit, I’m a bit behind on this. Still, I think it’s worth highlighting a couple related posts.

First, from Robert Reich:

Our preoccupation with the immediate crisis of financial capital is causing us to overlook the bigger crisis in America’s human capital. While we commit hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, we’re slashing our outlays for public education.

Education is largely funded by state and local governments whose revenues are plummeting. As consumers cut back, state sales and income taxes are shrinking; three quarters of the states are already facing budget crises. On average, state revenues account for half of public school budgets, and most of the funding of public colleges and universities. On top of this, home values are dropping, which means local property taxes are also taking a hit. Local property taxes account for 40 percent of local school budgets.

The result: Schools are being closed, teachers laid off, after-school programs cut, so-called “noncritical” subjects like history eliminated, and tuitions hiked at state colleges.

It’s absurd.

And then, to underscore his point, comes this graph from Wonk Room:

That’s a precipitous fall-off in the last 6 years. We’re really not setting ourselves up to be successful in the future.

This is the sort of thing that that makes me dread what the next 10-15 years are going to be like. President Bush has done some significant short term damage to our nation and society…  I’m really afraid that he’s done some long term damage as well.

A President Obama is going to have his hands full, and there’s no doubt that the Republicans will do their damndest to keep his administration, and the Democratic congress from cleaning up the mess.

It’s a really depressing time.


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