Government spending should be explained by the cost of schoolbooks
I’ve said this before, but with the revamped site I’ll say it again: If you want the American people to really understand the cost of something, rather than put it in dollars, but it in schoolbooks — or, I suppose, $choolbooks.
In other words, tell us how many schoolbooks we could have bought with the money we’re spending on something. I don’t know about you, but every year I get lots of kids coming to my door trying to raise money to buy supplies for their schools. It’s incredible that in the richest country in the world, our kids have to resort to begging door to door for money for education.
So tell us.
According to the National Association of College Stores, the average college textbook cost $57 in 2008. Schools buy in bulk, of course, so the price is lower. (Although in 2005, the North Carolina State Board of Education reported the average price of a high-school textbook was about $52.)
So just for the sake of simplicity and argument, let’s say $50 each.
And let’s talk about costs in terms of $choolbooks.
So the $54 million the federal government is giving to California for a “wine train”? That could have bought 1,080,000 textbooks.
That “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska? It’s still alive — to the tune of $680 million. For that price, Alaska could have bought 13,600,000 textbooks for its students.
But let’s not think small.
In 2008, the Iraq War cost $12 billion per month. That’s the equivalent of 240 million high-school textbooks, every month. With about 35 million kids in elementary school in the U.S., that means that for what we spend in Iraq in one month, we could just about buy every grade-school student in America almost seven new textbooks.
And still, those kids will come knocking, hoping their schools have enough money to buy art supplies, or pay for an extra teacher, or replace broken desks….