Jon Stewart got it wrong last week and we all really need to call him out on it
There are moments when I have to remind myself that he’s a comedian, NOT a journalist or an expert.
It’s no secret I’m a huge Jon Stewart fan.
There are moments though when I have to remind myself that he’s a comedian, NOT a journalist or an expert.
His interview with George Stephanopoulos last week was one of those times.
While discussing the ongoing unrest in Baltimore, he made a comment about foreign aid that was lazy, reductive, and entirely untrue.
And I quote, “If we are spending $1 trillion to rebuild Afghanistan’s schools, we can’t, you know, put a little taste Baltimore’s way. It’s crazy.” (3:10)
Nope. Just nope.
First off - before the trolls all lose their collective sh*t, I get that he’s joking. Like I said before, he’s a comedian.
But he’s pushing a narrative that the US spends a ton of money on foreign aid, to the detriment of American citizens.
That’s just false. The US spends FAR less than 1% of it’s budget on foreign aid. As a percentage, the United States spends very little on aid, especially when compared to other industrialized countries.
While the government did spend trillions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan, this number is in no way representative of the amount the US spent on schools there.
It’s also worth remembering Afghanistan was a country that the US dropped bombs on for more than 10 years, causing countless civilian casualties.
Without getting into whether or not the conflict was justified, there was clearly a moral imperative to help rebuild an infrastructure that’s been ravaged by war.
But getting back to the Baltimore issue and education. The US does need to have a conversation about education, I’m not negating that point. So let’s break down the domestic side of Jon Stewart’s comment and see if even that has any value.
His complaint: the US does not spend enough on education. In reality, the per child cost of educating a child in the US is $12,608, close to the highest in the world. In Baltimore City, that number is on average even higher. In 2013, the per student cost was $16,578. Yet, the US is nowhere near the top ranked country as far as test scores go.
In 2013, the US was ranked 26th out of 34 among wealthy nations in math scores and 16th in science.
Like I said, the US spends far more than almost any other country on education but still lags far behind, especially among minorities.
The problem isn’t that the Americans don’t spend enough on education, it’s that we spend wastefully and in a way that vastly underserves black Americans.
I think that’s a far worse scandal than the one Stewart outlined.
Let’s help set the record straight. Go to TAKE ACTION NOW to tweet at Jon Stewart and tell him that fixing the problem in Baltimore has nothing to do with the relatively small amount of US Foreign aid spent fixing the problem of 58 million kids around the world who don’t have the chance to go to school.
We have to hold public figures to account when they say stupid things, even ones we like.