Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Education is a national security investment

Dear Editor,

Fred Gedrich should be applauded for correctly identifying Pakistan as our nation’s greatest concern regarding Al Qaeda’s effort to acquire a nuclear weapon (Invest in Pakistsn, 2-5-08). And, Gedrich’s idea of investing in counterterrorism efforts that primarily focus on improving the quality of education in Pakistan’s “13,000 religious schools” and to sharply reduce the 50% illiteracy rate of other Pakistani children is paramount.

Properly educating Pakistan’s children will undoubtedly reduce the number of Jihad recruits, demonstrate positive American concern for Pakistan’s impoverished people, and lay the foundation for that nation becoming a truly democratic US ally in the larger global war on terrorism.

There is one basic problem however, with Mr Gedrich’s idea. There is a seemingly insurmountable shortage of US tax dollars available for us to make such a wise foreign investment. Bush’s new budget even cuts US education programs and proposes large increases in the military budget. While this military increase is suspect given the opinion of most experts that Iraq, Afghanistan and the larger war against terrorism won’t be won by the military, we are unlikely to see any reduction there. And we can’t ignore the flailing US economy, the falling value of our currency, Bush’s promise not to raise taxes, and a host of other vital US security programs that are as urgently in need of similar investments in US tax dollars.

One ‘thoughtful suggestion’ that this critic of the Bush Administration would like to offer is the implementation of a fee on cross border currency trading. Mitt Romney balanced his state’s budget by increasing fees for valued services. Currently there is no fee on people like George Soros who make billions in cross border currency trades basically speculating on the ups and downs of the momentary values of national currencies. Almost everyone is convinced we need fences to prevent free flow of people across our borders yet we have no restrictions on the free flow of currency that most economists would agree is the single greatest threat to global economic stability.

A micro fee on estimated $1.8 trillion dollars traded daily across national borders could yield $100 to $200 billion a year. Each nation that agrees to join in this effort could keep half and devote the rest to universal education goals that would help reduce jihadi recruitment globally. Using this same windfall of resources we could also invest in truly ‘universal health care’. A well staffed primary health care center in every community in the world could also yield enormous amounts of useful intelligence information to stop the spread of Al Qaeda or other serious threats we face, like natural pandemics or bioterrorist attacks.

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