While we may not all come from the same political affiliations, there is one thing we probably can all agree on – there is some fucked up shit going on out there, and the only way it stops is if we get off our asses and do something about it.
So in an effort to discuss some issues that may unite us rather the divide us, l’ll occasionally be bringing you some news that should seriously piss you off, regardless of whether you lean red or blue. To kick us off, let’s talk about some news that came out yesterday: the Department of Education’s budget request for the next fiscal year completely cuts funding for the Special Olympics.
Are you motherfucking kidding me? The budget would eliminate the measly (in government spending terms)$18 million to support Special Olympics. When asked about the cut during a House subcommittee on Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suggested the Special Olympics is better supported by philanthropy and added, “We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.”
But yet Betsy, while making the “difficult decision” to defund a program for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, proposed to add $60 million more to charter school funding. I’m not going to get into a debate about charter vs. public schools, but making that proposal while cutting funding for a program that makes a difference in the lives of thousands of people with disabilities and their families seems kind of gross, doesn’t it? Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan drove that point home when he asked DeVos if she knew how many children would be impacted by the proposed elimination federal funding for Special Olympics programs, which also serve adults. DeVos did not have the answer, but Pocan did: “That’s 272,000 kids,” Pocan informed DeVos.
The truth of the matter is that the Special Olympics is well funded by private donations, “as well as by some of the largest corporations and richest philanthropic foundations in the world,” according to Deadspin, and the cuts proposed to the Department of Education aren’t likely to pass anyway. But honestly, isn’t it more the principle of it? What exactly does it say about our priorities? Our government wastes millions of dollars on everything from the Department of Transportation spending $1.04 billion to expand the city of San Diego’s trolley by 10.9 miles, which is about $100 million per mile, to the National Science Foundation blowing leaf blowers at lizards for $75k, and yet somehow our moral compass thinks it’s ok to cut $18 million from Special Olympics? Oh, and by the way, $18 million is the same exact amount that our government spent last year supporting Egyptian tourism…which is not exactly in the same level (in my opinion) of importance as supporting a 50-year-old organization that provides year-round training and competitions to 5 million physically and intellectually disabled athletes.
So what can you do? Well, as I mentioned, the cuts aren’t likely to pass, but giving your representative a call or an email if they sit on the House Appropriations Education Subcommittee can’t hurt, nor can making a donation to the Special Olympics.
What’s that old saying? “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.” Hopefully, this series will make us start paying more attention. Together.