Taking other steps
Many of us lied to ourselves when we voted on Town Meeting Day in Montpelier. We said we couldn’t afford to fund our schools. That is not true. Had we instead had the option of not fully funding the budget of the Department of Defense, the school budget would have passed handily.
With most of the DoD (and related) budget being cleverly hidden among the dark complexities of federal spending, it is challenging to even calculate how much we actually spend. Conservative estimates are that half of every tax dollar goes to either pay for our current and past wars or maintain a huge machine to fight the next war. Our country spends far more than any other country in the world — in fact, more than the combined amount spent by the 15 countries with the next highest military budgets. Sadly, in that vast amount we can’t seem to fully fund health services for our veterans.
I cast my vote for the Montpelier school budget. Not because I thought it was perfect or because I am wealthy but because I think it provides one of the best returns possible on our tax dollars. Like it or not, we’ve asked our schools to be much more than just places for kids to get an education. From school lunches to health services to planning for special needs — all are important investments we make in our future. Without schools the social fabric of kids and families would be riddled with even more holes than exist already. That would not be a very good way to “defend” our future.
I don’t deny that many struggle to pay their taxes and, as a result, felt compelled to vote against the school budget. But the truth is we actually have enough money for schools. While we may not be able to vote directly to reduce the outrageous levels of military spending we’ve grown so complacent about, we can, at a minimum, be honest with ourselves. We can also take whatever steps are possible, however small, to fully fund education, clearly the best defense against the terrors the world so greatly fears.
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