Education Will Get You a Job! But We're Cutting Education

We're often reminded that education is the key to adapting to globalization and changing technologies. Reports from Georgetown University, the New York Times, and the Brookings Institution cite the growing importance of higher education. Foreign companies are becoming less dependent on U.S. workers for advanced skills.

Adding to the pressure is the need, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, to "educate 350,000 more K-12 students and 1.7 million more public college and university students in the upcoming school year."

How do our political leaders respond to all this? They cut education funding. And they give tax breaks to the largest corporations.

Based on data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the National Center for Education Statistics, total state education cuts for fiscal 2012 will be $12.7 billion. At the same time the Citizens for Tax Justice reports that 265 of our nation's largest companies avoided about $14 billion in state taxes each year from 2008 to 2010.

At the federal level, annual education cuts of 8% are anticipated beginning in 2013, even as corporate income tax as a share of GDP continues to drop, from 2.6% in 1979 to 1.3% in 2010. Our largest 100 companies paid only 12.2% in federal taxes over the past three years.

How do the corporations get away with this? Is it the threat of lost jobs? Jobs certainly aren't being created. While corporate profits made up 14 percent of total national income in 2010 -- the highest percentage ever recorded! -- corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash, and 80% of college graduates are moving back home with their parents.

Is it the fear that companies will move to another country? A U.S. Treasury report of global competitiveness (Table 5.3) revealed that the ratio of U.S. corporate taxes to GDP was well below the OECD average. Better to get a P.O. Box in the Cayman Islands and stay in the U.S.

American corporations have long benefited from our nation's system of higher education. Now education is being cut because the corporations aren't paying their taxes. And, as if to add to the insult, they're looking to other countries for the skills they need.

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