Last week the people of Newmarket, New Hampshire voted on whether or not to build a new junior / senior high school. The building is now 89 years old and because of fire and safety issues a new school is mandated. The school now houses grades 6 through 12. The State of New Hampshire decided years ago to eliminate any aid to their towns in order to replace old schools. They did this because budgets would not allow any more deficit spending. In other words, the state like many other states decided it was more important to save money today in order to not allow their children to have to pick up the debt in their future. The vote lost by a small margin but wasn't near the necessary 60% in order to pass the bond that would allow the school to be built.
This concept mirrors many that are now plaguing the future of our society. Many in both state and federal governments feel it is important to stop any spending that would inflate the already inflated state and national debts. They want to balance their budgets today in order to not have deficits tomorrow. The question I have is what will be left for our children in a tomorrow that hasn't taken care of its present?
For example our vast highway system that was built during the Eisenhower Administration after World War II is eroding to a point it will soon not be able to handle the traffic it was never meant to handle. By the way, a large deficit was created because of this construction but our past leaders knew it was important to employ the young men and women who returned from a war that saved all of our freedoms. Our bridges are no longer hinting they are ready to collapse because they are now collapsing killing innocent neighbors. In 2012, the I-35 Bridge in Minnesota did just that. Every time I drive over the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, Maine I say a little prayer as I view its deeply rusted and pitted structure.
Our gas mains are also feeling the effect of age. A few weeks ago in Harlem, New York at least six people were killed when an old water line collapsed into a gas line literally blowing up two buildings. It is said that most of the gas lines have been replaced in NYC but my primary question concerns the concept of "most"? Also how old are the water lines. Are we now in the midst of saving money for our present by hurting and even killing the people who no longer have a future? Sewer lines are another present problem that should be replaced. Why do our government officials insist we are not able to accomplish this because we don't want to have our children carry the expenses of their parents? What will our children do if they have no means of discarding their own waste?
One of the greatest problems we have in our present world is our electrical and computer grid. If we continue to put off necessary updates to an integral part of our society that creates our life style how can we expect our children to have the same quality of life in their future? If the rest of the world continues to invest in their future while we continue to state we can't afford the necessary expense it is obvious we are going to be left behind.
Now lets get back to the issue of education. For as long as I can remember my society always lead the world in innovation and technology. I was glued to my television with all of my peers with mouths opened watching as the heroes of our time circled the planet, went to the moon, and had visions of capturing the stars. Today our programs are being cut because our politicians state we can't afford it. We can't afford to pay for the future of our children' dreams. In education we spend millions of dollars attempting to increase the motivation of our students. How the hell can one do that when they tell our children they can't afford their future because of attempting to pay the debts of our today? I, and many ask, without our future why would we bother to care about our present?
Last week the people of Newmarket, New Hampshire voted on whether or not to build a new junior / senior high school. The vote failed, which means we all failed. I just pray we never stop trying to succeed.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine