Thursday, September 23, 2010

I shudder to think what my students are "learning" elsewhere

The other day, I was talking with my 8th graders about the increase in government spending that we have seen since the founding of our country, and how our current spending is quickly bankrupting us. Sure as the sun rises in the east, every period saw at least one student raise his or her hand and say something to the effect of, "Aren't we going broke because we are in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

Sigh. Whether or not you agree with our presence in those two countries, the numbers tell a different story in relation to the students' question. This graph is from the Cato Institute:
Chart: Spending by Department
You will notice that ALL defense spending, not just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is dwarfed by the spending of the Department of Health and Human Services. Add Social Security to the heap, and you can easily see that our total spending on defense (not just our two wars) is tiddly-winks compared to our spending on social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Oh for the day when a student of mine raises his or her hand and says, "Mr. Chandler, don't we spend way too much on social programs?" Whether it is badly informed parents at home, or badly informed teachers from either past or future, the factual information I give my students is destined to be overwhelmed by the misinformed narrative that most students will have shoved down their throats throughout their academic careers. I am happy to contribute my opposing viewpoint, but I am sure it will fly right over most of my young minds full of mush. At least I will have reached a few. That is what I tell myself.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson


The Vegas Art Guy said...

Wow, just wow. But more students are conservative than you might think. I am always astounded by how many of them there are once I explain the differences between those on the left and those on the right.

Anonymous said...

Your graph is biased and leaves out a lot of defense spending. If you look at the total spending on everything related to defense matters (like you do with social spending) you get from 800 billion to over a trillion in 2006! We're way past that now.

Anonymous said...

If you claim that 900 "dwarfs" 700, then I dread to think what you are teaching children

W.R. Chandler said...

With all due respect (not really), you are a frigging moron. You looked at Health and Human Services and skipped right past Social Security. Added together, that adds up to approximately $1.7 trillion dollars, not $900 billion. That is $1 trillion dollars more than what was spent on defense. Social Security is bad enough, but the fact that we spend $200 billion more on HHS than Defense is deplorable.