Andy Rooney on Iraq

I never thought I’d be sending around something that took Andy Rooney seriously, but this morning I ran into a post on BoingBoing that blew me away. Last night Andy Rooney’s segment on 60 minutes (BitTorrent link) blasted the Iraq effort in a way that I think much of Middle America can understand: basic facts. (Also see the transcript.

I have a theory that many more people would be against the Iraq war and more critical of the Whitehouse administration if they simply understood the implications for this country. For example, I wonder how many people know that our budget this year for defense is $336 billion, yet our educational budget is $61 billion? I wonder how many people would support the simplest proposal of say, cutting $30 billion from the defense budget in order to increase the education budget by a whopping 50%?

And so I can’t begin to express how pleased I am that someone like Andy Rooney, who is typically viewed as fairly harmless, suddenly has become so vocally critical of the war. I think the mainstream media finally got some backbone with their outrage over the handling of Katrina, but I’m going to predict that Andy Rooney’s segment yesterday is a turning point for public criticism of the war and this administration. I think this changes the face of opposition. I think for many people it all sounds like the just the rantings of some that crazy mom Cindy Sheehan, or some crazy Californians who are too disconnected from the real world to have a legitimate voice, or some vocal celebrities jumping on the bandwagon of rebelliousness.

  1. #1 by Alexandra M. Landeros on October 4, 2005 - 7:47 am

    We think of ourselves as a democratic country–a country where our voices matter. Maybe I haven’t been an adult long enough, but it does seem to me that this is the first time in a long time that there has been this much unrest and dissatisfaction among our citizens. Especially our liberals.

    But will our voices be enough? I really do wonder about that. We’re all on our soapboxes (me included!)–but at what point should we put wheels on those things and turn them into go-carts? Will it take something extreme to cause us to REALLY ask things to change?

    I mean, right now, we’re STARTING to take personal hits–or at least, things are hitting closer to home. We may not have armed soldiers burning our books, we’re not being arrested and having chips secretly embedded in our brains… for now, we are “merely” seeing our public schools suffer at the cost of war, gas prices are finally driving us to use public transporation, we’re questioning the motives of the government in their slow response to Katrina, etc.

    How far will we let it go?

    Perhaps Andy Rooner will lead the first rebellion. Maybe even with the help of Burt Bacharach and Dr. Dre. Check out my friend Ron’s blog:

  2. #2 by John Noname on October 13, 2005 - 8:56 am

    I agree on the war, but disagree on the public schools.

    The public schools are failing because there has been too much money. That money built a tremendous buracracy that has self consumed every available resource leaving nothing for the children.

    Do the math. When you add up all the money, federal, state and local spent on K-12 education, it is over $10K/kid.

    With the average class size at 20 kids, that is $200K. Pay the teacher, and you have $120K left over. Where did all the other money go.

    My daughter’s middle school now has 3 vice principals! When I was in middle school, we had one.

    Now the school board is building a new much larger headquarters, because they are running out of space! But they have not built one new middle or high school in the past 8 years. And all the schools are over-crowded.

  3. #3 by alecf on October 13, 2005 - 9:31 am

    Wow. I think you need to think about what goes on at your daughter’s school beyond the moments that she is in her teacher’s presence.

    First, the national average per child is around $9000. Multiply this by the 20 kids per class, and you get $180,000. Now subtract the nationwide average paid to a teacher ($47k, not $80k) and you have $133,000 left over for a single class – even more than you estimated! Now think about where this money goes:

    – Buildings and capital maintenance – janitors’ salary and the cleaning products they use, plumbing and electrical maintenance, installation of networks for computers, soap and toilet paper for bathrooms, etc. Electricity. Internet access. Water and sewer.
    – Other staff: guidance counselors, principals and vice principals, security guards
    – Educational Resources: books and paper, art supplies, musical instrument maintenance, science lab equipment and maintenance, field trips.
    – Student resources: school lunch, busses (property, maintenance, and gasoline), after school programs, etc
    – Staff development: workshops, training for teachers, counselors, principals
    – School district: maintenance of offices, staff to develop curriculae for the district, human resources, etc

    The list goes on. A school is not a cheap thing to run and it goes WAY beyond a teacher’s salary. That’s why education is under-funded, not over-funded.

  4. #4 by John Noname on October 13, 2005 - 11:50 am

    On 9,000 vs 10,000 are you counting the Dept of Ed expenditures also?

    On the teacher salary, I rounded up to cover benefits, etc.

    – Buildings and capital maintenance – Building is paid for. Bonds are issued to fund construction. They are repaid out of general fund. But think of maintenance, it is not cheap but it ain’t that much. We have 3 janitors and no security guards (low crime rural area). The cafeteria is break even.

    – Other staff: Agreed.

    – Educational Resources: Books are not that much. I bought a copy of all my daughter main books, and it was $200. The school plans to use the books for 8-10 years. That’s about $20-$30/kid-year. Except for a couple of piano’s amd specialty instruments (like French Horn) they are all student owned.

    – Student resources: Agreed

    – Staff development: Agreed

    – School district: Agreed

    I think what really set me off was a report that in inflation adjusted dollars the amount spent per child is almost twice what is was when I was a kid. The only difference I see between then and now is ~100 PC’s a massive increase in the number of administrators.

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