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Ideas, Linked; Ideals, Inked.

Archive: March 18, 2003


[Note from vijtable: Dear readers, here is the first “idealinked” message I ever wrote. I had a history of ranting via email. This was a bit of a change – more of an essay. Please see my previous post for why I’m posting these archived messages.]

At 8 pm EST on 17 March, 2003, President George W. Bush approached the podium and announced that it is time for our country to take action against the tyrant who runs Iraq. Succinctly, I cannot sleep because I am angry… and now I’ve decided that enough is enough. I was planning to rant on the fact that we have a tyrant who runs OUR country, that a bunch of ineffectual people are on both sides of the party dividing line, and that the population is apathetic. But you’ve heard all that before.

[Note from vijtable: Much more after the jump.]


“We Will Stop This Man…”
We have two stupid men thumping their chests accross the ocean, neither of whom have seen the struggle of life in the real world. We have a world which is unwilling to stand up to do what’s right because the most important thing to them is either A, the ballot box, or B, gaining the favor of the winner (the USA). There is something woefully wrong. So, ensuing is a barrage of statistics which show how backward our country is.

“…At All Costs…”
The 2002 budget allocates ~$329 billion for defense spending. The 2003 fiscal year budget allocates ~$379 billion. (*1) The next FIFTEEN countries, COMBINED, total at ~$361.3 billion (*2). I do not need to say how wasteful this is. Instead, I ask you to look at it from this perspective: Here I am, in a classroom, trying to tell eighth graders that they are going to be at the bottom of the barrel in high school because we cannot afford to give them a school that is run well. Meanwhile, we spend MORE THAN $1300 DOLLARS PER PERSON on guns and star wars! (*3) How much do we spend on education, you ask? Approximately $200, nationally, and MAYBE another $100-150 in-state. (*4,*5)

“…To Ensure…”
Outrageous: The state of California spends approximately $27,000 per prisoner per year. The per student cost, at best estimate, is $6000 dollars [sources unclear]. Current estimates by an assistant superintendent in California place the number close to $2000. Either way, the costs are clear. Calculating based on number of prisoners, California spends $4.27 billion on prisoners alone. (*6) Calculating based on the current estimate of 8 million students in California, we get $16 billon on students alone (which makes you wonder about the other $20 billion spent on education), or ONLY FOUR TIMES MORE! There are, mind you, EIGHTY times more students than prisoners in California.

“…The Safety…”
Keep in mind all these numbers while reading the following: Governor Gray Davis, based on federal cuts, is being forced to make cuts to state education in order to compensate. A law on classroom size-reduction is on the chopping-block. In one district, the number of students in a K-3 classroom can go up by 60%, from 20 to 32 students. This is the district where the famous Lawerence-Livermore laboratories are. We are not talking poor schools here! The classes are getting dangerously big. Now, I need not remind you that the military budget has risen by $50 billion a year.

“…And Security…”
To put this in perspective to the military, some more outrageous stuff: there are approximately 5.3 million people in the armed forces (including 2 million retirees), so they are each worth (ouch) $71,509.43 per year! (Note, without retirees, the number jumps to ~$114,000)

“Of All Americans.”
In sum, we spend greater than the median wage for a family per member of our military, a little below the median wage for an individual per every prisoner, and about the cost of one good computer per student. Put in different terms, you can buy a 1987 Honda Civic with a student, a 2003 Honda Accord (with all the options) with a prisoner, or a 2003 BMW 745Li with a member of the military. Obviously, the military is the ultimate driving machine.

AT WHAT COST?
The pithy phrase says that our children are our most valuable resource. It only goes to show you how protective we are of our resources. This is a call, using basic knowledge that anyone can access, that we are failing not only the children, the schools, or the world. We are failing the future. We have doomed it.

It is time for the peaceful revolution to begin. This is a call for us to start linking, start talking, and become informers. We have access to all the information we need. It needs to get to the people.

JUMPERS
In my classroom, I use an analogy – “We are, all of us, jumpers from an airplane. We are in free-fall, enjoying the ride. When you skydive, you get to a speed – terminal velocity – where you don’t feel like you’re really moving because you cannot accelerate any faster. At this point, it feels peaceful and enjoyable. You can do flips, look at the scenery, and have fun. But if we don’t watch the altitude and pull the rip-cord to open your parachute, there WILL be a tragedy.” I then point to the board and say, “This is your parachute.” I subsequently point to the back door, where students who fight or simply have fun instead of learning are told to leave the classroom. “That is the tragedy. I am here to give you your parachute, but you need to pull the rip-cord. I can’t do it for you. If you don’t, I assure you – there will be a tragedy.”

I think this analogy still applies. Right now, we are having fun instead of learning from fifty years (100, 1000, 100,000?) of learning. We need to look at the board. The parachute is on our backs, we just need to pull the rip-cord. Or, I can assure you, there will be a tragedy.

Please let’s grow up. Help me get a good night’s sleep. This is my plea: Spread the word. Point people to what’s on the board. I think we’ve mostly forgotten that what is written in history is there for us to learn from. Let’s rouse the people from their revelery and start the peaceful revolution!

With peace in mind, and love for all,

[vijtable]

*1: http://www.defenselink.mil/ – Department of Defense numbers.

*2: http://www.cdi.org/issues/wme/spendersfy04.html – this source biases (which
they need not do) by using FY ’04 spending rather than FY ’02 or FY ’03. For
the sake of consistency, let’s go with 2002 or 2003.

*3: simple calculation of current budget divided by upwardly-rounded figure of
300 million people in the country.

*4: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OUS/budget.html – $54 billion, nationally

*5: Estimated $35 billion dollar California state budget, plus 25% for higher
figure

*6: http://www.prop36.org/pdf/P36_drops_Prison_Pops.pdf

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Creative Commons License
Idealink by vijtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work by various sources, as cited.
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