by Troy Martinez
November 17, 2011

Have you ever wondered what our children will think about what we did today when it’s become a part of history? When they’re old enough to understand what’s going on today, whether it’s 15, 20, or 25 years from now, what are they going to think about our today? Right now.

Decisions that our leaders make today will affect today’s babies now and when they become the young adults of tomorrow, yet it seems that the only comments ever made about the future are simply political rhetoric. “We have to cut government spending and bring down the deficit so our children don’t assume our debt.” This makes sense when you listen to the words, but what’s the real message? That making smart investments today to ensure a strong future is not a good strategy? I’m all for protecting future generations from assuming debts that they didn’t incur, but hasn’t every generation faced the same issue? At what cost do we only think about cutting expenses and not increasing revenue? Ask any business owner—minimizing expenses is always good, but increasing your revenues is much better!

I keep hearing that our public education system needs to be “overhauled” and we need to “stop throwing money at the problem.” But I’ve yet to hear what this “overhaul” consists of. Do we stop funding education altogether and produce a generation of the educated “haves” and the undereducated “have nots”? Like one of my many wise public school teachers used to tell us in class, “don’t just point out the problem, give me a solution.” Whatever happened to the standard investment mantra of “you gotta spend money to make money”? Why doesn’t it apply to education or social services?

So back to wondering what our children will think when looking back at the decisions of today. Will they be asking questions such as:

  • “I looked it up, but can’t find a good definition for ‘middle class.’ What was that?”
  • “Really, there used to be a time when helping rich people get richer was more important than making sure that America had an educated and healthy workforce?”
  • “What was Social Security?”
  • “Is it true that big corporations were sitting on trillions of dollars in cash in 2011, but didn’t use any of it to invest in education, jobs, or America?”

Or will they ask:

  • “You old people sure were smart to make early childhood education, public education, health care, and most importantly, the children, a priority when you were planning for the future. What made you decide to do that?”

Children first, ideology second. That’s how decisions should be made in order to prepare this great country of ours for the future. I hope the comments made in the future by today’s children are reflective of smart decisions that the adults of today make.

Troy Martinez is NM Voices’ Interim Executive Director