If We Don’t Invest in Education, We Pay for Prisons

by David T. Bruce

Image courtesy of the NAACP; please click on the image to sign the NAACP petition to restore education funding
Image courtesy of the NAACP; please click on the image to sign the NAACP petition to restore education funding

Rick Santorum, as have many (if not most or all) Republican presidential candidates and elected officials, has strong opinions regarding the benefits of public education and higher education and the role of the federal government in the preservation and support of these institutions.  In particular, Santorum’s 2005 critique of the public schools in America continues to illustrate how the most economically and politically affluent citizens of this country are grossly ignorant of what it means to be a member of the lower- and middle-class in the United States.

Home schooling may certainly have benefits over a public school education, but a majority of Americans do not have the resources to effectively implement a home-school curriculum.  Public education services the majority, and indeed, public education needs an overhaul.  This does not mean, however, that our federal government should wash its hands of public education, leaving states to their own devices as they would like to do with medical programs.  If our states are truly united, then our education system should be united, a program implemented that provides uniform education to all students, not merely to those who live with families who can afford the very best education.

Santorum argues that the environment in which a uniform education is afforded provides an unrealistic image of “what life is like.”  I am unsure of what frame of reference Mr. Santorum has in regards to public education and “what life is like” for the majority of Americans, but many public schools are those in which various socioeconomic groups are represented, and few of them will ever realize “what life is like” for Santorum.

Over 1.2 million students drop out of school every year, according to research data provided by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.  Of those students, approximately half of them are African-American and Latino students.  This report illustrates what life is like for the 90% of American children who rely on public education, while their government leaders suggest that less intervention by the federal government is mandated.

Mr. Santorum speaks as poorly of higher education in America, citing the perceived rejection of religious faith by students who go into college.  Santorum and all of our state and federal representatives should be more concerned about the growing lack of faith in our leaders, our government, and in the promise that our nation will provide for the general welfare of its citizens.  Our federal government rarely wants to provide for anything or involve themselves in any program that involves spending money on its citizens, and our elected representatives endeavor to convince us that fending for ourselves is for our own good.

Our government seeks to cut federal spending on education, again placing the fiscal burden on individual states and citizens who are already strapped for cash.  The burden to our country can also be measured in collective dollars and cents, as research shows that among other detriments to society, “dropouts from the class of 2007 will cost our nations more than $300 billion dollars in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity.”  Money not spent on public schools and education will ultimately be spent on prisons and incarceration.

Our government can find certainly find the money (in excess of $700 billion) to bail out the banking and automobile industries for fear of how the foundation of our country and our economy would be affected by the collapse of those industries, but our government cannot find the money to bail out an industry that is shown to directly impact the success or failure of our nation today and for years to come?

Money does talk, and the actions (or inactions) or our government have demonstrated where our elected officials place their priorities.

Insurance Companies Should Cover Deoderant & Soap – Santorum’s Platform Stinks

by David T. Bruce

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Image source: Pride Source, the publisher of Between the Lines

The latest threat to our individual rights this election year is a Republican presidential candidate presenting itself in the guise of Rick Santorum.  All of the candidates proffered to date have been those that quickly and soundly condemn the Obama administration for promoting a socialist agenda that strips Americans of their right to live without the menace of government intervention in terms of how much money we can make, how heavily (or not) we are taxed, and how we may spend our money (in other words, companies are people too).  These same candidates then offer a legislative laundry list of prohibitions that systematically target every behavior and vice considered being immoral or unethical, making them illegal.

The platform of the Republican Party in general is one that encourages less government involvement in healthcare; Mr. Santorum, however, encourages more government involvement when it is fitting with his belief system, advocating legislation that prohibits the use of contraceptives, that prohibits adultery and sodomy, and that prohibits abortions, even in the event of a rape.  Either you want government to be involved in the health of your citizens or you do not.  If you are involved, you should be so for the greater good and not for a personal rationale.

Oral contraceptives are shown to protect the health of woman, as past and current studies indicate that oral contraceptives can prevent ovarian and breast cancer.  This seems to be a valid, life-saving, cost-cutting, preventive form of medicinal therapy that insurance companies might benefit from in terms of dollars saved in the long run.  Do you seriously believe comparisons can be made between such a medicine and toothpaste and soap?  That is your argument?   The only reason that you can offer to prevent insurance companies from covering contraceptives is because it offends your moral sensibilities.  It is none of your business.

We do not hear you raising your voice against the support of insurance companies that cover the cost of Viagra.  Kenneth J. Smith, MD is quoted as saying that “I see Viagra use more as a health issue and a quality-of-life issue than as a lifestyle issue.”  Is the quality of life issue applicable to men only?  Not only is quality of life a valid concern for men and women, the overall health of women and cancer prevention is of higher concern.  We cannot avoid the issue of unwanted pregnancy either, as this too affects quality of life.

Again, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes is no one’s business – not mine, not yours.  Does this mean that we promote incest, bigamy, or adultery?  Of course not.  Grow up, please.  This is not a high-school debate.  As we reach adulthood, we tend to be intelligent, responsible, and savvy enough to separate the good from the bad, recognizing the murky area that exists in between.  State and federal laws already exist to deter such behavior, and we do not need a puritanical zealot to tell us right from wrong.  The majority of Americans know right from wrong, and we are not your sheep.

Do not impose your moral and religious standards on all Americans.  We share this country; we share this world.  You obviously do not see the world in the same way as others.   Nor do others see the world in the same way as you.  Do not dare to assume that you can command power over the majority simply because you believe that you and a truly small minority enjoy some pious sense of morality that gives you domain over our existence and our right to exist as we see fit.

You talk in jest about mandates for insurance companies.  You want a mandate?  I move that we have a mandate that every person that pretends that they have a gift for leadership in America must spend some time living as a part of the society they deem to represent, so they have a clue to what it is like to have someone that is fortunate to have power and money dictate how their constituents should live their lives within legal parameters.

Mr. Santorum, you are a part of the same elite (please refer to the definition of “elite”) that you condemn President Obama of being a part.  You cannot see beyond your sanctimonious, narrow-minded view of how you think the world should be.  You perceive that your position of power and wealth give you an edge and give you the authority to condemn those of us who do not measure up to your moral convictions.

Good grief.  Who would have thought that the Republican Party could have come up with a presidential candidate that makes Mitt Romney look good?