Ice cream and budget schemes

by Kristen HoladayStaff Writer

Where can you get Ben & Jerry’s homemade ice cream and learn about the federal budget at the same time? Why, Simpson College, of course.

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, will be on campus Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. to present a forum titled “Taking it Back.”

The forum, which will be held in Brenton Student Center, is part of a tour brought to colleges arounds Iowa by Iowans For Sensible Priorities.

According to Liz Larson, communication director of Iowans For Sensible Priorities, most citizens are unaware what the federal budget is used for.

“I have never been informed about the federal budget,” freshman Lindsay Mogard said.

Cohen was astonished to learn what the budget was used for, and he has made it his mission to inform students.

“More than half of the federal budget is going toward the Pentagon,” Larson said. “When Cohen learned about the federal budget, he was shocked.”

The Iowans for Sensible Priorities Web site has a cartoon depicting Cohen using Oreos to explain how the federal budget is divided among the Pentagon, public education, world hunger, children’s healthcare, alternative energy and the Head Start program, which helps low-income families get their children ready for school.

“(Cohen) probably will do the Oreo presentation live in the flesh,” Larson said. “Cohen is a very prop-driven speaker.”

More than half of the federal budget, approximately $400 billion, is going to the Pentagon. Iowans for Sensible Priorities is asking for 15 percent to be taken away from the Pentagon’s budget.

The 15 percent will then be divided between other groups who don’t get as much funding, such as education and world hunger.

Russia and China, two other countries with high military budgets, only spend about $120 billion combined. Sensible Iowans also recruited members of the military to explain their portion of the budget.

“Cohen found that a business leader isn’t as credible for a military budget so he got nine retired military men to help,” Larson said.

The budget will not be the only thing Cohen discusses.

“Sensible Iowans want to get students energized to vote,” said Brian Steffen, professor of communication studies and director of Simpson forums. “Eighteen to 24 year-olds, although (they) have gotten better, tend to not vote in the same numbers as the rest of the population.”