Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sane America, Stupid America

While the U.S. economy continues to improve, Americans today still keep finding more and more ways to pit ourselves against one another, while failing to address the truly important issues. We're not even talking about the blue/red political divide, or the urban/rural divide.

There's also the idiotic traitor or hero divide surrounding NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The writer Glenn Greenwald and GOP Rep. Peter King did a marvelous job on Wednesday exposing the ability to have an amateur pissing match over that issue, while both men mostly avoided the real security versus liberty debate.

The immigration battles going on in Washington, DC are another perfect example of Americans taking sides, while not really fixing the problem.

Of course, there's also the Blackhawks/Bruins divide or the Heat/Spurs divide, if sports is more your thing - though there's also a nasty division going on right now between funding for sports and funding for education in America.

You may have recently missed the story about the city of Chicago making massive cuts to their school system, and closing fifty public schools - all while investing $100 million as part of a new sports arena for DePaul University. In truth, we can't see how Chicago's Mayor Rahm Immanuel can legitimately call himself decent, let alone call himself a member of the Democratic Party, when he's gutting education like that.

It shouldn't be entirely surprising, though. A chart posted to Deadspin.com in May noted that in every state in America, the highest paid public employee is either a football coach, a basketball coach, or an executive member of a state college - a department chair, dean, or college president.

As our staff members are all fans of Husker sports, you can probably understand why our antennae perked up when we saw a writeup by Brian Rosenthal in the Lincoln Journal Star, about the newest member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Husker men's basketball coaching staff, Kenya Hunter.

Hunter - who looks to be a great addition to Husker basketball - will be the highest paid assistant coach on the Nebraska men's basketball staff. Hunter joins Nebraska from Georgetown, a school known for both solid education and a strong basketball tradition - so we hope the investment the university is putting into him shows on both the new scoreboard at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, and in the grades of the student athletes on the team.

Admittedly, it was likely easier for the University of Nebraska to make the decision to pay its coaches well this year.

For the University of Nebraska, the economic picture has been like it is for much of the rest of the country - steadily improving to the point where Governor Heineman agreed with University Regents to allow for a one year tuition freeze for in-state students - the first tuition freeze in twenty-two years. Nebraska's state university system is also adding professors and forging ahead on projects like a new NU College of Nursing.

It's easy to seem sane when the money is rolling in, and the economy is improving.

When things eventually turn downward again, though, the question will likely remain unanswered: Where do our priorities really lie, as taxpayers? The time to ask and answer these questions is now.