Uncovering Our Country’s Funding Choices

On Oct. 9th, 2014 we visited All People’s Community Center for our weekly meeting with a group of wonderful students. The first activity that we did was an activity in which we asked the students to pretend like they were given all of the money from our whole country’s fund; for the sake of the activity the funds were a collection of 100 pennies. They acted as congress representatives and had the opportunity to put their 10-13 pennies in whatever area that was important to them. The categories that they could fund included agriculture, energy, homeland security, military, environmental problems, education, housing, states and other countries, justice, health and human services, and transportation. They were asked them to put their money where their priorities were and where they believed our government’s funding should go.

After tallying up all the pennies we found that 25% of the pennies were deposited in the education fund; which meant that the students believed that 1/4 of the entire government budget should go towards education. The students believed that 16% of the funding should go to the justice systems, 9% should go towards agriculture, 9% should go towards health and human services, 9% should go towards housing, 7% should towards transportation, 6% should go towards military, 5% should go towards energy, 5% should go towards states and other countries, and 4% should go towards homeland security. When the actual results were told to the students many were extremely surprised. The actual results of the survey were that 60% of government funds were going towards the military, 6% towards health and human services, 6% towards education, 5% towards the state, 4.5% towards other programs, 4% towards the Department of Homeland security, 3% towards housing and urban development, 2% towards agriculture, 1.5% towards justice, 1.5% towards NASA, 1.5% towards energy, and 1% to labor, 1% to treasury, 1% to interior, 1% to environmental protection agencies, and 1% to transportation. Many of the students (as well as Brenda and I) were shocked to see where our government’s priorities fell. Why? Maybe you can add some statistics or
Cindy looking at the differences between estimates
and actual percentages of government funding.
One of the students, Brenda, had said, “They always have money for the war, never for the poor”, which she had later told us that this line was from a Tupac song but she couldn’t help but think of those words when she had found out that 60% of the government’s funds were going to the military.
After the exercise, another student, Jasmine, said, “..more money should definitely be going towards education.
Another student, Yordi, expressed his disbelief and frustration when sharing that, “It’s crazy that we spend more money on other states and countries than our own education!”

Brenda writing down thoughts from her group onto their poster.
We discussed how “we spend more money on military than any country in the whole world.”
Later on, the students split into two groups and discussed the international impact and domestic impact that large amounts of military funding had done on a local level and the impact it has had overseas.
Brenda, Cindy, Yordi, and Jorge discussing the affect that military
funding has had on their local community.
The students then created posters that explained what they had learned and what their opinion was after reading the articles that discussed government funding and watching a video that explained some issues that arose from immense military funding with the use of satire. For example, the students discussed about how a quite a lot of military funding goes to the LAPD and LASPD which allows them to gain access to weapons that look as though they belong on war grounds, such as 14 AR-15 assault rifles, grenade launchers, and MRAP armored vehicles (used to keep troops safe in Iraq).
It was extremely inspiring to listen to whateveryone shared about the government’s financial choices. Many of them want money to go into education and many of us rightfully agreed. There seems to be a very large imbalance in the distribution of funds and although it seems impossible to change, learning more about our society and government’s choices can help us know where to start and how to create an environment that is fair and peaceful in this and other communities across Los Angeles.
Like Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Written by Zanetta Uy
For more information on military grade weapons given to the LASPD click link below.

http://video.ktla.com/School-Police-Arsenals-Come-Under-Fire-as-LASPD-Confirms-Weapons-Obtained-From-Pentagon-26801670#.VEabMildXOY

Written: 16th October 2014

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