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Investing versus spending

I rant to my students about the stupidity of government accounting, which fails to distinguish spending on today versus spending on tomorrow. We call the latter investing and it is what we do to make tomorrow possible. Sound investments pay for themselves by making a better future. So now comes another example of silly decision making.

School districts are under financial pressure so, we discover, they have decided to cut back dramatically on investing in computers so as to pay teachers’ salaries. But these are two separate categories of spending that should not even be mentioned in the same breath. Of course we have to pay teachers who are teaching today. But to refuse to invest in our future means that we will lack a sufficiently skilled labor force to compete in tomorrow’s economy.

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