Monday, March 10, 2008

Bush: reading is actually not fundamental

Where is Laura Bush when we need her?

I just received word that President Bush's 2009 federal budget proposal does not include any funding for the popular and successful Reading Is Fundamental program, which distributes free books to kids through local public libraries. Here at my library branch, the RIF program might be the most popular of all our activities, if the chaos that takes over the childrens' floor each Friday afternoon between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM is any indication. Please take the time to send a message to your congressional representatives urging them to restore funding to the program by clicking here.

To put things in perspective, the budget proposal includes $515.4 billion for the Department of "Defense" alone ("a nearly 74-percent increase over 2001," the department's budget overview almost gleefully notes) as well as a $70 billion "emergency allowance" to support the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Further, Bush will apparently "request additional funding once the specific needs of our troops are better known." Oh goody. Compared to these astronomical figures, the $26 million required to run the RIF program is a drop in the bucket. But apparently, here in America, we have more important priorities than teaching kids to love books and reading. We have a GWOT to win (and defense contractors to keep in business).

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