Pennywise and Pound Foolish

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently presented a budget to Congress that would eliminate funding for Special Olympics. “We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” she told legislators recently. She added that the success of the Special Olympics program should enable it to make up for the $17.6 million cut through its own fundraising.

The cut saves taxpayers approximately the same amount as five presidential trips to Mar-a-Lago. DeVos and the administration she represents drew a conclusion remarkably out of touch with the realities of most Americans, particularly those who support children with special needs. Having said that, I do not envy the policy makers who have to decide how to fund education. The economy is a twisted zero-sum game. Want to spend more money on university-level research programs? Great! Shall we take cash from elementary reading programs to provide it? Well. . .hang on a minute.

Of course, the government’s biggest mathematical problem involves figuring out ways to pay for entitlement programs. It’s not like we can tell retired septuagenarians that the checks won’t be coming any more. This administration’s specific problem involves its funding priorities. If you ran the government, how would you balance spending on defense, health, and education?

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20 Responses to Pennywise and Pound Foolish

  1. Kerrigan A Clark says:

    If I was running the government, I would organize the government more heavily around education and a lot less around defense. Education is the source of everything that happens in the world and without it, we wouldn’t even have the smart people that help with defense and with healthcare. If we spend more money on education, we will eventually have more people that have a lot more human capital which will help the economy and have better jobs. We will also have more people that will help with the current health situation which will decrease the spending. The defense should just be lessened in all ways. There is really no imminent threat like there was during the World Wars or with Vietnam.

  2. X says:

    I would reorganize the budget completely. Not understating defense, but more money should be distributed to health and education. To survive, figuratively and literally, in this day and society, a person’s education is very important. It is the base requirement for a career. Health is arguably the most important; there is a reason why America has the reputation that it does. With oversized portioning and endless student loans, these issues should come first for governments’ interests instead of defense. As respectable as our military is, the people in that military would not be there without being in a good health condition and an educational background.

    • random says:

      I agree that more money should be put towards health and education, however, many people in the military have excellent educational backgrounds. The military is not just about keeping our country safe, but they also perform their own research in order to help advance America.

      • X says:

        I do not agree with your claim that many people in the military have excellent educational backgrounds. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 56 percent of the military service members have a high school education or less. Four percent have undergraduate degrees, and nine percent have had a bachelor’s or higher degree. Consider this: how and where do they get educational backgrounds?
        The military does perform research, such as weapon technology, war strategies, all conforming to the national defense policies. However, I have another question for you: what must they have in order to be hired to conduct research?

        • random says:

          When I say “many” I did not mean the whole entire military. You’re right that a lot of the military only has a high school degree, that’s more than the general population can say. 93% of enlisted soldiers have a high school/college degree which is more than the 59% of civilians. Another things is that the military may be the only route some people can take to support themselves because they come from bad situations. Not everyone goes into the military because that is their only option, but because they want to serve their country. To answer both of your questions: People in the military either get their education before enlisting in the military, go to a military academy, or have the military pay for it once they enlist. In order to do research, most of the minimum requirements are a bachelor’s degree, but depending on the type of research, a master’s or graduate degree is required. Let me ask you a questions: If you came from a bad financial situation, were in a bad school system, but still wanted a good education, would joining the military to get your education paid for be the worst thing?

  3. Geneva Hamilton says:

    I read in USA Today that according to The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “the U.S. spent $618 billion on its military last year (2013), more than three times the $171 billion budget of second place China.” This fact is ridiculous in my opinion. Educating American students should be equally, if not more, funded as defense. According to, President Trump’s “Budget provides $63.2 billion in discretionary funding, a $3.6 billion or 5 percent decrease below the 2017 enacted level.” Contrarily, Trump signed a $717 billion Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. If I ran the government, I would decrease the defense budget drastically and increase the health and education budget. Health should be more affordable for the American people; no one should be in debt because of medical bills.

  4. random says:

    Although I support our military and defense programs a lot, the amount of money spent on them is insane. I definitely think more money should go towards health and education, especially health. People should NOT have to pay so much money in order to get better. The fact that people have piles of debt in medical bills just blows my mind. Education, I think, would be the next thing most funded. America would not have as many problems as it does today if people could get a good education at an affordable price. I think the main reason people are so uneducated is because it’s so expensive. If people have the merit to attend a college, the cost of attending should not be a reason for them not to go.

  5. Alexandra Magee says:

    First, we are not supposed to be in a time of war, do I would not budget for a nonexistent war. Essentially, the government should balance the budget by spending 20% or less on defense, that includes the presidents trips to his private home. Healthcare is more important than defense because Americans are living longer. Basically, education should be the number one priority. This includes research to cure cancers and diseases. Education has a broader range than just kindergarten through twelfth grade. Someone who has a heart for education needs to oversee the system to ensure every child receives an equal educational opportunity.
    The budget should be this: defense > 20%, healthcare 35%, education 45%
    All in all, taking away funding from the special olympics creates a trickle down effect. first the special children then it’s the gifted students of msms. the same students who have the greatest possibilities of solving the complex problems of our future.

  6. Alyssa says:

    It is very hard to balance a budget, but it is true that we spend way too much on military. Personally I would give the majority to education, then to health care, with military expenses being last. We should give the most funding to public education because there are many places that are struggling with how to use the money that is given to them between books or getting better technology in classrooms. Healthcare should also have importance in the budget because this what allows for certain medications and procedures to be more affordable for those that need it. Military should not get the most funding because of two reasons. One reason is that they do not take care of all veterans equally and many are often not cared for as they should be if they have an ailment or mental disorder that resulted from time spent in service. The second reason is that a lot of the money that we use is very unnecessary since we are not currently in a huge war. The only time that it is acceptable to spend more on military than healthcare, is when we are using all of our resources in world wars.

  7. Erin says:

    I think the budget should be split evenly between health and education. Health is very important because people need to be able to live. People need to be able to go to the hospital if they need to, and not have to pay hundreds or thousands because of it. Education is also very important. Without it, lots of people would be without jobs and no one would be able to teach others anything based on knowledge they learn themselves. A smaller amount of money should be left for the military. They do not really need much unless we are at war, and we’re not.

  8. JoJo Kaler says:

    First, a comment on the proposed budget. My aunt was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome at a very young age. Aspergers is a developmental disability that is related to autism. Because of this, her childhood and teenage years were especially difficult. She did, however, participate in the special olympics. She played volleyball and soccer and absolutely loved it. To this day, 30 years later, she still talks about it constantly. Without fail, After every single soccer game of mine that she came to or I came home from before her bedtime, she would reminisce about her days playing in the special olympics with a smile on her face. The experience touched her deeply so much so that it still makes her smile 30 years later. Although they make money through donations, 17 million dollars is still a very large amount of money and they would likely have to cut some programs, including the one that helped my aunt through some of the toughest times in her life.

    Now to my own personal budget. I believe education is the key to success. Specifically higher education. Studies show that going to college can help social mobility, which is the chance that someone born into a lower income percentile can eventually earn an income of a higher percentile and vice versa. In an ideal world this would be the way the world works. However, this is not near the truth. College can help improve this lack of upward mobility ( ) I would focus my efforts to provide grants and scholarships to lower income families on a merit based scaling system. Meaning that if you are below a certain income threshold (likely around 70,000) and you have good grades and/or good testing scores, the government would pay for a large portion of your college tuition. Health is also very important but the root of the problem is not government spending but private health insurance companies, but thats a story for another day. For that issue I would focus my efforts more on legislation that can help lower the cost of healthcare in general rather than just throwing money at it. (obviously I would still throw a significant portion of money at it but not as much as I would education). Something I would throw less money at is defense. That seems to be a trend amongst the responses to this post. MSMS is founded on the dedication to excellence in education so it makes sense that MSMS students all want to increase spending in that area. It’s important to note that the country as a whole is not as focused on education as we are and cutting defense funding would be met with serious opposition. For most MSMS students, a good education is what drives much of their motivation and has always been at the forefront of their consciousness, this same dedication, for some families, is focused on the military. Because of this, I would focus the cuts required for a boost in education funding on weapons productions and nuclear weapon spending. However, considering the proportions of budgets, this should not be hard. According to the National Priorities Project, a whopping 54% of the US’s federal discretionary spending was dedicated to military spending, where only 6% of that budget was dedicated to education ( ). This is a ridiculous disproportion that I would plan to fix. And if you think that spending less on our military would allow for other countries to become more powerful than us, think again. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, we spend more than the next seven biggest military spenders combined as well as more than every other nation (other than the biggest 8 spenders) combined. In 2017 we spent about 3 times as much as China, the second biggest spender. ( ) This insane amount of money dedicated to defense is ridiculous and some of it needs to be reallocated to education.

  9. Linda Arnoldus says:

    In my opinion, our government spends way too much on defense and way too little on education and health. Although I hold onto these beliefs, government budgeting is a tough topic to tackle, and there are no outcomes where everybody will be made happy. If I were the government, I’d most likely choose education as top priority, then health, then defense. Or course, this stems from personal priorities, but I believe this system would benefit America the most.

  10. anonymous says:

    I am not very educated when it comes to politics and I am at fault for that. I definitely agree with some of my peers; the government is too focused on defense. Health and education should make up a larger portion of the money being spend. We should be investing in the youth that will soon be the future. Education is expensive! We are told to go to college, but by the end we are faced with crippling debt; what is our incentive? Once we get out of college; we are suppose to go to graduate school. Graduate school is even more expensive. Invest in the future!

  11. Khytavia Fleming says:

    If I were to run the government, I would like the funding to rotate around defense, health, and education. Each year, one of the three issues would get 50% of the funding while the other two issues each received 25% of the funding. Will this plan make everyone happy? Definitely not, but it gives every American a chance to be content whether it’s this year or the next knowing that the topic that they value the most will have more attention and funding brought to it than the other two issues for a year. Governing the U.S. is a hard and troubling job. Some individuals value defense over anything else, while some value health, and others education. Decisions have to be made and everyone is not going to agree with what has to be decided. One of the main reasons I believe the government has a hard time deciding where funding should go whether its defense, health, or educations is because each issue affects the other two in a profound way.

  12. M says:

    As a proud social democrat, I say why not all 3? Why can’t we increase taxes to pay for the necessities of the population? I agree with pretty much everyone who has said anything so far, but I do believe that the country currently spends entirely too much on defense and not enough on health care and education. I think we culd spend as much as, say, the next 4 countries as opposed to the next 7 and still have plenty of money for the defense budget. This excess could help fill the gap for the other two categories, but I feel like it still wont be enough to cover what should be covered. Universal healthcare and Universal prek-12 should be covered by the govt in my opinion.

  13. G says:

    Education and healthcare should be prioritized over defense in order to advance our nation, with education being the top. Education is what got us where we are today and is what will push us into the future. This is, essentially, the basis of all we know. A bigger push on education will not only advance existing institutions and programs but will create more opportunities for those who have not been as fortunate.

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. . .This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

  14. Xavier Lucas-Cooper says:

    Balancing funding to 3 important causes is not easy nor will it ever be. For me, it would not be a question of which department I would fund the most, it would be a question of how would I be able to equally disperse my funding. If I was absolutely forced to make a decision on what department to fund the most, I would choose education. Education is the foundation on which every person starts their lives from. Education is something that can launch someone into success or poverty. I would take the money from the defense department in order to increase the funding of education because as it now stands, America is not in as much need for military needs.

  15. TL says:

    Healthcare and education does not get the funding it needs to improve. However, our the president is trying to build a billion dollar useless wall. Our priorities are scrambled. We have school districts that barely have teacher, because they are not getting enough pay to provide for their families. Everyone does not have the quality healthcare that they need. The money spent on the wall could be put to better use. Schools could get more books, teacher could get more pay, and students could get a better education. I know what it is like, being in a school district lacking the resources to improve.

  16. Bubba says:

    The government surely focuses the most of defense for their own reasons whether publicly known or not. However, they should also spread their attention towards health and education, I agree. If I were to be running the government, I would consider education my top priority, and then health and defense. Without education, people would not understand many crucial things in life. Education is what allowed for the evolution of our economy and homes. I would prioritize health next in order to regulate the diseases and sicknesses and also research new scientific studies. Although defense is less prioritized, it is still a crucial category, but working on supporting education and health alongside defense would hopefully make the spending more balanced.

  17. Nathan Lee says:

    The spending on defense is far higher than it needs to be. I wouldn’t say to do anything extreme and cut half of it, but a decent portion of it could be cut while still maintaining a solid military. I believe many problems in America could be fixed with better education, so funding there should definitely increase. Hopefully, misinformation would be less widespread, and more individuals would be able to lead successful lives. Health is also a huge problem when a single accident can cost thousands of dollars, crippling the majority of people with average income. Although I think funding should increase in health as well, the most important change would be the system of health. Unfortunately, structural change is much more difficult than changes in funding.

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