The Adventures of Joshua Judson Rosen
(action man)

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Thu, 22 Sep 2016

01:31: Funding Schools, and Wars

I noticed this poster on the wall at my son's school, this morning:

It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

It's seems easy to agree with that, because the purpose of schools is ostensibly to educate and we like education and want more of that, and the purpose of the military is ostensibly to wage war and we hate wars and want less of those.

But one problem here is that it's also easy to miss the more subtle, and perhaps more genuine, perversities of warfare—like the perverse fundamental economics of the whole thing. Not the "economic issues" of wealthier vs. poorer states, or wealthier vs. poorer people, or of war-chests or "war millionaires" or the impact of war on the anyone's bank accounts; but rather that the basic premise of war is that there is something that is actually worth both killing and dying for, and that once we've accepted the cost of ending human lives, no amount of mere money adds significantly to that cost.

Contrariwise, because any education budget is just money (nobody has to die in order to educate our children), the cost is small enough that almost any change is significant enough to notice. Especially when we accept it as given that education budgets recur, while we try hard to believe that any given war will have an end and be a cost that we'll only have to incur once.