Here’s a question no one is asking. Which, public health or public education, should receive the lion’s share of tax payers’ dollars? Or are the education of our children and young people and the health care of our citizens equally important, equally deserving of our resources?
Frame the question in anyway you like. Should my aged parents or my children in college be receiving the largest share of my salary? Should my medical insurance payments be higher or less than my property taxes, a good portion of which, if not most, go to supporting the schools?
In any case both health and education costs, in absolute terms and as percentages of our gross national product, are rising. Medical expenditures in 2005 amounted to nearly $2 trillion, about one fifth of GDP for the year.
Total educational expenditures are also rising and in that same year were one half that amount, or nearly $1 trillion, one tenth of GDP.
Together these expenditures make up one quarter of the gross national product, and the consensus is at this time, when Barack Obama is about to take offce, that this is not enough.
The question we’re not asking is how much of our national wealth, all of which is created by inventive and hardworking men and women, can we place in non productive, non wealth producing industries?
No one disputes the importance of health and education for the safety and prosperity of the country. But what are the limits to our expenditures in these two areas? Are there any limits? To listen to the promises of the politicians as well as the claims of the citizens too often it seems there are none.