Out of Control Policy Blog

Visual aid

Sometimes visuals really do tell a story well. They can be especially useful when considering big-picture issues, such as, government growth, taxes, or -- in this case -- education spending. (To see what I mean, click here and scroll down to page 47, Figure 12.)

The figure shows that -- in constant 2001-02 dollars -- per pupil K-12 spending has roughly doubled since 1970. It’s easy to forget a big-picture statistic like this when confronted with appeals for higher taxes for more education spending -- after all, those kids activists show who need textbooks, probably really do need textbooks. And all those crumbling schools really are crumbling. But are kids going without textbooks and sitting in crumbling schools because there’s not enough money going into the system or because the system doesn’t manage it’s money wisely?

Weeks ago, I pointed out another telling visual. (To see it follow the link, scroll down, and look for the pie chart.)

The chart displays data compiled by the Office of Management and Budget after it
assessed 234 federal programs -- 20 percent of all federal programs. The OMB wants to see if government programs are actually doing what they’re paid to do. The answer is scrawled across just over half of the pie: “Results Not Demonstrated.”

Ted Balaker is Producer


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