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Eating our seed corn

Posted by Dr. Ward Fredericks on February 20, 2004

In Reply to: Eating our seed corn posted by ESC on February 19, 2004

: : : EATING OUR SEED CORN - "'We're eating our seed corn,' Gov. Bert Combs used to say many years ago as he talked about Kentucky's paltry investments in education. His story came from Kentucky's pioneer years, when our forebears had to survive harsh winters on what they were able to store during the summer growing season. If they stored too little or if the winter was too long, they would eat the seeds need for next year's crop. And with no way to replace their seed corn, they had no future. Investing in education is like protecting our seed corn." From "State about to eat its seed corn: education/ Budget cuts will starve minds, stifle future" by Robert F. Seaton, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Herald-Leader, opinion pages, Lexington, Ky., February 16, 2004.

: : :::Anytime our behavior is so short sighted that we over consume today at the expense of our future, we may be said to be 'eating our seed corn'. It applies to everything from global warming to the over fishing of the oceans, and over harvesting our forests.
: : In the past, the results of such behavior would normally play out over a relatively short time period, and lack of seed the next growing season would signal great trouble ahead. Today, the signs are much more subtle, but the concern should be as great.

: The slogan for my state was "Education Pays." Now it is "Make Education Pay." They are raising the tuition at state universities.

:::In the US we have supported education at many levels over the years. In my world travels I always was impressed that the US has community colleges that serve as first experience and also as a reentry point to education for 'late bloomers'. Have not found this mechanism anywhere else to the extent it exists in the US.
We tend to starve the education system (and abuse it) whenever there is a budget crisis in the country. This is one of those times, and all the state systems are raising fees and cutting back on faculty and staff. California, with all it's problems, is doing the same. The University of California system has normally been protected in these cycles, but now they are taking a hit.......... but surprisingly, the community colleges are being supported more than in the past.
Life is like's better to be educated in the US in good financial times than in recessions and budget crunches. Thankfully, I do believe the 'ethic' we have in this country to support education is still intact. Maybe we won't do much damage with our silly game.