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Recent federal and state budget proposals all embody a similar emphasis - cutbacks. This is understandable given that we have become a nation which operates on credit. Increasing productivity, balancing budgets, and reducing debt are shared goals, and it seems most are ready to sacrifice something to achieve these goals.
There is an old expression that everyone is likely familiar with, "you have to spend money to make money." This adage applies perfectly to education, and the future our nation. Education is not something I am willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. Without quality education, our youth will be unable to compete, therefore our nation will fall beyond others who have chosen to make human capital investments.
Ultimately, cutting educational spending will hurt children in middle class and low income families. Quality education will not cease to exist in the private institutions that a very limited number of children attend, but creating budget shortfalls in public education will severely impact the quality of education the majority of children receive. This is regressive policy, and it will limit our national resources by reducing the number of talented and qualified individuals.
Economically the rest of the world still has a long way to go before they catch up. However, educationally the rest of the world is passing us in many arenas, including math and science. We should be increasing the quality of public education with better funding and better policy. Instead we are going in the opposite direction, and because of this, the ultimate the price tomorrow for saving today could be high.
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A run down of Gallup's recent poll asking Americans who the greatest president in our history was. Here are the results:
10. George W. Bush
9. Harry Truman
8. Theodore Roosevelt
7. Barack Obama
6. Franklin Roosevelt
5. George Washington
4. John Kennedy
3. Bill Clinton
2. Abraham Lincoln
1. Ronald Reagan
I realize that this poll is based on opinion and not actual performance, however that does not make it any less absurd. I rarely make my opinion blatantly obvious on this blog, but... SERIOUSLY???
George W. Bush belongs on a list alright - a list of colossally terrible presidents along with the likes of Hoover, Coolidge, and Johnson. Numbers 9 through 2 all belong on this list, with the exception of Obama who is still too early into his presidency to really establish any solidified legacy. The list order is definitely arguable, but these Presidents earned a spot in the top ten.
Now lets move on to Ronald Reagan. America has developed a fantastical perception of President Reagan. This is a rather obvious statement considering that for the last three years he has beaten out the guy who ended slavery and the guy who ended the Great Depression and stopped the Nazi's. I know all the Reaganites would argue that Reagan ended the Cold War. Well to a degree that is true, however may I remind you that that was a wordwide collaborative effort.
Here are some not so pleasant truths about the "great" Ronald Reagan. The income disparity during his presidency grew to astronomical levels and have never rebounded. In other words, during Reagan's years in office the rich got obscenely richer and the poor got disgustingly poorer. That was not by accident, but rather by design through corporate deregulation and scaling back several social programs aimed to aid impoverished individuals. He introduced Reaganomics, or trickle down economic theory, cutting taxes for the wealthy so that the benefits would funnel down to the less wealthy - it did not work, not even a little bit. Additionally, Ronald Reagan actually believed that homeless people chose that lifestyle. A great man indeed.
From public policy point of view, the worldwide manifestation of the HIV/AIDS virus is without argument Ronald Reagan's fault. This is not opinion, this is fact. President Reagan intentionally chose to ignore the disease and chose not to fund any research or awareness efforts to combat the disease. Reagan did this based on his own personal moral conflicts, meaning Reagan did not care because it was homosexuals who were contracting and spreading the disease and not white wealthy Christians. The disease was able to run a muck for seven years before President Reagan addressed its existence. Nearly 17,000 people had already died of a disease which could have been stymied or even snuffed out with awareness programs. Instead, HIV/AIDS has spread, and today over 30 million individuals are infected with the disease worldwide. This does not exude greatness in my opinion. In fact, one could argue that because of Reagan's failure to react to this disease he is responsible for more deaths than any leader in the history of mankind - over 25 million.
I do not necessarily believe Reagan was a bad guy. In his heart he probably believed he was doing the right thing. However, under no circumstances can he be considered the greatest President in our nations rich history. Reagan had charm, personality, and was committed to serving his nation, but his execution, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired. His popularity has been misinterpreted as effectiveness, and my hope is that future historians will understand that.
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