I know this is off topic but on average spending per student in the U.S. has increased year after year with 2000-2010 spending more than 1990-2000 and 1990-2000 spending more than 1980-1990 and so forth. I work in public education and the myth that we don't spend enough is just that, a myth. You could make the argument that teachers aren't paid enough, and in some areas of the nation you would be correct but most districts pay teachers fairly. The biggest problem is too much overhead from administration.
The idea that Reagan closed mental health facilities is also revisionist history btw. ;) Look into it the topic further and the truth is easy to see. He no more closed mental health facilities than Obama destroyed the economy in 08'.
Back to the topic at hand, I too am alarmed and the militaristic direction in which police departments are headed in this nation. I work with officers on a regular basis and find them for the most part to be very good people who are not part of the problem. They have a difficult job, one that I would not want to perform. Even these officers recognize that there is a small subset that are the problem and who give the rest of them bad names, we're talking 5-15% depending upon the department. Unfortunately those police are the ones who shoot first, ask questions later and who escalate the intensity of situations instead of diffusing them.
The real problem we have is a police force that instead of policing their own protect their own and more often than not obstruct justice. If bad cops lost their jobs and were prosecuted for their crimes the general public's mindset towards police would be much more favorable than it currently is. Again, when police are involved in a situation, be courteous, calm, and follow orders (assuming no unconstitutional or blatantly wrong orders are given), let cool heads prevail because chances are the officer is just trying to do their job.
Doug hit the nail on the head with: "I think it goes far deeper than that, Craig. We're (generalization of our current society, or certainly parts of it, often around cities) lacking empathy, compassion, patience and understanding. We're lacking community. We're lacking basic courtesy. We'll never have the will as long as lack these. Look at all the media around us, listen to our 'thought leaders' and politicians. We're all about division, exclusion and dislike, and it's sad."
The bad cops don't see us as human, have no compassion and have no love for their fellow man. They see themselves and judge, jury and executioner. Disobey one of their almighty orders and pay with severe bodily harm and in some cases your life. They hide behind the law and behind their union protection and abuse the power with which they have been entrusted. Punish the bad cops, weed them out of the departments and restore public faith in LEOs.
As was mentioned, the divisive talk that comes out of D.C. and the media categorizes and segregates us instead of people seeing each other as first and foremost human beings and secondly, citizens of the greatest nation the world has known. We need respect and compassion for one another and to value the sanctity of life.