As graduation creeps up on a class of hard-working students, I can’t help but feel a little envious that I will not be among them. As far as I can see, this seems to be a good time to vacate this institution armed with a degree in something or other.
With the next year promising more tuition hikes and class sizes that conveniently fit into a large amphitheater, it would appear that, for the time being, state education is headed in a direction beneficial to neither the ever-expanding student bodies nor the faculty of campuses across the nation.
However, my envy really only reaches so far. After I contemplate my own future involvement as a student at a “state-funded” institution, I realize the difficulties many will face as they try to enter the diminished local and national workforce. A task that, by its very nature, seems courageous in this destitute economy and hopeful at best. It is a bad time to try to start a career, and I am sure that graduate studies are looking like a pretty good option for many right now.
And as states and counties scramble to make ends meet, by proposing tax increases and shaking that empty piggy bank in search of a lingering penny, the federal government has starved the national education, health and social systems while inflating its military budget. This week an over-inflated defense budget has been floating through Congress, parading through the capital upon the backs of the Republican leadership. Its price tag of $400 billion and rising (the largest proposed defense budget since the end of the Cold War) is yet another example of Washington’s current administration choosing defense contractors over our nation’s children.
The budget’s largest shortfall can be seen in its unnerving duality: While the budget makes great claims as to updating the military to the most current technology, such as, as the New York Times reported, $1.7 million for new unmanned fighter drones, the budget also includes an excess of funding for outdated weaponry and equipment that still accounts for a Soviet threat that has been nonexistent for nearly 20 years. This may be seen as the economic equivalent of the Pentagon having its cake and blowing it up too.
And last, but certainly not least, is a $9 billion proposal for a missile defense shield, the bastard son of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars, that still to this day does not work!
Besides its obvious inadequate shortcomings as a nonfunctional money vortex, many analysts agree that even a working missile defense system would be an ineffectual deterrent from future attacks, which are more likely to resemble Sept. 11 than Pearl Harbor.
This, of course, is only a rational observation concerning the future of national security and should not be confused with the large contracts that will be secured by this nation’s private companies that create and supply the military-industrial complex in this country. And while I am sure that a great number of government officials, congressional representatives and even executives of the military-industrial complex benefited from a public education, they are stripping the opportunities from public education for a future generation of Americans.
It appears that the near future of the United States will be a sickly, uneducated child with big guns. This is due, in part, to the lack of opposition this budget faced in Congress this week.