The turmoil created by the revelation that our phone calls and email are not totally private has caught much of the public unaware and generated protests all across the country. The issues involved in the National Security Agency's activities are important, but that is not what this column is about.
There is a popular country song that begins as follows: "Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys, let ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such. ..." If I have learned nothing else from reading the fine print of the NSA/Edward Snowden scandal, I have learned that a high school dropout can earn well over $100,000 per year working for our government if he/she is adept at computers.
National statistics reveal that unemployment for high school dropouts is three times the national average. Further, a person with a high school diploma will earn almost twice as much as a person without one. And, if the person has some college, a degree, or an advanced degree the earning amounts go up exponentially.
Well, make room for a new batch of statistics. Edward Snowden dropped out of high school and he was making $120,000 for the NSA. That ought to put a new slant on what Momma's will be advising their children in future years.
There is another key element in this issue that needs discussion. The way we have structured secondary education in the U.S. follows a model set for us by the writings of Thomas Jefferson. He said that the primary purpose of education was to create informed citizens. Jefferson said that government and history were key elements necessary in every person's education so they could make intelligent decisions regarding elections and other important issues of life in a democracy.
Had Edward Snowden learned what he should have learned in high school he would have known that the primary purpose of the government as written in the constitution is the protection of our people. Further, that our elected and appointed officials follow a set of rules and guidelines, a check and balance system, that facilitates that protection. One person cannot take it upon him/herself to decide what is best for the rest of us. Edward Snowden did just that. He decided that we did not need the protection being provided by the government program that he revealed.
So, "Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys, let ‘em be computer programmers and such. ..." That way they will make a lot of money. But caution them to finish high school and, perhaps, pick up some college along the way so they will know and understand our government's primary responsibility and why no one person has the right to threaten the security of the rest of us.