Figures, despite their precision, are not always easily grasped. This time last year, US president Donald Trump asked Congress for $639bn in military spending, a 10% increase.
America spends more than the OECD average on education. However, its students are falling behind on literacy and numeracy despite a budget of $68bn in 2016.
For most of us, $68bn — €60.5bn — is difficult to appreciate, to be comfortable with. Therefore, $639bn — €538bn — seems off the scale, as remote as one of space’s most distant stars.
However, a figure like $13.6m — €12.11m — is not so intimidating, such a figure lost its sit-up-and-take-notice oomph years ago. After all, America’s Government Accountability Office recorded that Mr Trump’s four trips to his Florida home in 2017 cost €13.6m, or nearly $1m a day.
This week, Mr Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, decided to cut funding for America’s Special Olympics organisation.
The $17.6m cut came as the US’s Education Department faces a budget reduction of 10%. Mr Trump’s budget for next year has cut funding for education for the third year in a row but prioritises military spending and his wall along America’s border with Mexico.
Unlike figures, actions are usually easily grasped. This proposal shows billionaire class ruling America in a way that is almost shaming, even to think about.
Let’s hope Donald Tusk reserved enough space.