I know someone who, when he was young, spent a night hiding out in the variety store that was a part of the small town where he lived.
As a prank, after everyone was gone from the store, he rearranged the price tags on the items inside.
In the morning, when people came into the store, they were shocked to discover that they could purchase a color television set for 99 cents. Or maybe get a lawnmower for a quarter.
A pack of gum might cost them thirty dollars, while a plastic toy would set them back a hundred.
It was a great prank, and after thinking about it for a while, I realized something:
That’s exactly what’s happening in our world today. Someone has rearranged the price tags. And the prank is on us.
Things that one day won’t really matter, are costing us a lot more than we realize. And the things we should treasure – are being sold cheap.
Here are some numbers to prove it.
Let’s start with something valuable - our children. So, how much do we really care about their education?
Well, today our nation is spending more on our kid’s education than any other country in the world – about 350 billion. Of course, almost a third of that cost goes into administration, but overall, we are spending about $11,762 per student.
So, what are we getting in return?
A country that is currently ranked 14th in the world. But that’s only if you include our colleges and universities. Many of which, by this world’s standards – are elite.
But if you simply ask where the US education system ranks in three major categories (math, science and reading) you will find that we are actually 26th in the world – because our children are currently 40th in math, 25th in science and 24th in the world at reading.
Imagine that – the richest country in world, educating our greatest resource, and lagging behind the nations of Estonia, Hungary, France, Belgium, Portugal, Russia, Germany and Israel.
You want more? We are also far behind China, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Finland, and Norway.
Maybe the best way I can put this is to have you realize something about our American culture: If one of our major universities had the highest paid football coach and his team wasn’t even cracking the top 20 each year, do you think he’d still have a job?
Here’s another one: I will just use the University of Washington as an example, but this is true of almost every big school in our country – even Wyoming.
Every year the kids who graduate our colleges leave their schools owing a student debt over thirty thousand dollars. Each year they go to school, they add a debt of almost six thousand bucks to their lives.
But if you are an employee of that same school, you EARN an average salary of $189,000 a year.
Now of course, not every employee of the school makes that much. It’s the average salary because you are paying the football coach 3.5 million. His assistant coaches glean over $500,000. And the president of the school? Almost a million.
Please tell me again, how much we value education in our country. The truth is, we do to a point. But let’s be honest with ourselves - not if it costs our sports or our privileged lifestyle.
Here’s some more ‘numbers’ to think about, especially for those in political leadership who are becoming little more than puppets in the strings of the fools who are shouting “defund” the police as if that were a solution for anything good.
I think Ron Casalenda was one of the finest police officers I have ever known, and he has done more in the past 40 years for the community of Douglas than you can imagine.
But as one of our countless good and decent public servants, we valued him only at a salary that (after he risked his life for us every day) still took him over two full years - to earn as much money as we paid Ellen or Judge Judy, in a day.
And I don’t care if they do make you laugh. Ron helped keep you safe.
But in case you haven’t noticed, you are living in a country that values it’s teachers and doctors and other public servants so much, that if any one of them averaged a salary of a hundred thousand dollars a year – it would still take them over 3 years – to make as much as some CEOs and athletes are currently making every single day.
I am not saying we don’t live in a wonderful country. I believe with all my heart that we do.
But right now, we are paying a high price for some things that later on, won’t actually be all that important to us.
Because one day (and I know we don’t like to think about it, but it’s true nonetheless), there might come a day when the only numbers we really care about - are the number of things we can fit inside a shoebox.