City Pages – No. 1?

# The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (the New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).
# The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).
# Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. Seventeen percent believe the earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).
# “The International Adult Literacy Survey…found that Americans with less than nine years of education ‘score worse than virtually all of the other countries'” (Jeremy Rifkin’s superbly documented book The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p.78).
# Our workers are so ignorant and lack so many basic skills that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004). No wonder they relocate elsewhere!
# “The European Union leads the U.S. in…the number of science and engineering graduates; public research and development (R&D) expenditures; and new capital raised” (The European Dream, p.70).
# “Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature” (The European Dream, p.70).

The World Health Organization “ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was]…37th.” In the fairness of health care, we’re 54th. “The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world” (The European Dream, pp.79-80). Pay more, get lots, lots less.

“U.S. childhood poverty now ranks 22nd, or second to last, among the developed nations. Only Mexico scores lower”

Geez..this is just plain embarrassing. Much of this has to do with an enormous American population that has never actually left the country to seriously look around int he world. Bush himself never left the country before becoming President. Many Americans won’t even go to Canada.

None of this would be happening if every American living today got one good look at modern Shanghai. That would scare the crap out of you. Ah, but ignorance is bliss.

via M. Cuthbertson

  1. Miguel Lopes says:

    Hey! I never travelled outside my lil’ ol country, but that doesn’t make me an ignorant! I wish I could travel more, though 🙂

    I think much of the problem may lie in reduced spending in education, and in the stupidification of mass media – TV, mostly. If you could sort that out and make TV a service in the public interest you’d go some way in the right direction.

    This stupidification is being felt all over the developed world, and Europe is no exception. It seems dumb consumers are the best, informed, educated consumers are not.

    So if all goes well to the powers that be, one day we (US, Europe, Australia, etc) will be behind Korea, China, India and former Soviet bloc countries… I’m not surprised, because these countries make a conscious effort of investing in education. South Korea is a very good example.

  2. Greg K. says:

    Canada is stupid (and, yes, I’ve been there).

    I’ve seen studies showing that journalists have the lowest IQ among most professions.

  3. Rick Shahovskoy says:

    If this land is so absolutely terrible, why are so many clamoring to get in?
    And why, if this land is so scientifically challenged, and medically backward, are so many coming here for medical procedures available NOWHERE ELSE ON THIS EARTH?
    What was it Samuel Clemens said?
    “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.”

  4. Steve N says:

    Well now John, you’d best be prepared to answer the oft asked question: “Why do you hate America?”

  5. Thomas says:

    Hating has nothing to do with correcting a clear problem with our education system. To say otherwise is a cop out. The US public education system from kindergarten through high school is atrocious. That there are people graduating that cannot read is preposterous. That there are people going to college that are unable to do arithmetic is criminal. The Subject A exam was created specifically because people were being admitted to colleges that were unable to write college level material.

    John and other journalists are right in pointing shame at this issue. It needs to be addressed and John’s analogy of a football fan is perfect. IMO, a vast majority of the problems we have this country: crime, religious intolerance, blind obedience, acquiescence to media hype etc. would be solved by improving the education and specifically critical thinking skills of our youth.

    I would go so far as to say that Rick’s, Greg’s and Steve’s responses are illustrations of that education system breakdown. Rather than thinking along the lines of a solution or postulating the merits of John’s post, they responded with a knee-jerk, “I know you are but what am I” quip.

  6. Hank says:

    I’m an American who has lived overseas for years now. I prefer it, actually.

    I’m not an America basher, though.

    But is America “the best country in the world?” – there is no way anyone can say that. I’ve been to several countries that are safer, cleaner, more modern and even more prosperous. (including the Muslim country I live in now!)

    But who can say what the best country is? There are way too many subjective factors involved.

    It irritates the world to no-end that Americans constantly make this claim about themselves… especially since so few have any basis to say this, besides TV.

    Unless you’ve lived in other culture and country for years (not just tourism) and learned their language, foods, customs, etc., you should just shut up about this “we’re the best country” claim.

    Enjoy your country but don’t make claims you are ignorant about.


  7. Pete says:

    I applaud Hank’s comments. He is absolutely correct.

    What a lot of non-American’s find annoying about America is this attitude.

    I’m half British half Swedish, and its not that the UK or Sweden is better than the US, it’s just that you don’t tend to find Brits or Swedes claiming superiority over other countries the whole time. There are great things about the US, but plenty of things that arent. Same with the UK and Sweden.


  8. Steve N says:

    John, it was a joke.

  9. Joe Gaffney says:

    The people who cheer on the United States the most are in the military. It’s no wonder they are willing to defend our way of life. They are sent to hellholes like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Somalia. Based on these comparisons, the U.S. looks like the best place on earth!

  10. I propose that there is a reason literacy in the U.S. is stagnating and that reason is television. What one can gain by watching T.V., is is relatively nil. Furthermore, the medium is an opiate, drugging us with brainless entertainment; viewers just love to sit in front of the “boob tube” in a state of blissful euphoria watching shows like “Survivor.” They do nothing in the way of enhancing their basic levels of intelligence. Reading books has become too painful and almost like a dose of castor oil or a laxative, so they avoid it. Unfortunately, once in a while, we all need a cathartic to cleanse the mind. TV producers will continue to feed us a diet of “dummie” programming until the day we want something a lot better.

    Boy O Boy! Are we in trouble!

  11. site admin says:

    Steve, I can see that. Unfortunately, and something I learned from this blog about six months back is that as with email, humor doesn’t work normally. I made some joke that was an obvious joke to me and could not get anyone to see it that way and the thread bumbled along as if I was serious despite my protestations. Semi-sarcasm in particular does not work. It has to be over the top and then hammered with smiley faces. If I had not responded with my serious retort and said something like “very funny” or “you are joking, right?” I would have looked flippant, especially to right-wing nutters who dominate online forums. AND whether you are joking or not is besides the point. You could have been serious and that’s the way all comments have to be handled. I am studying this sociology closely.

    Now let me respond to you the way you would have normally expected.


  12. DrAndy says:

    Hey, irony rocks.

    I just got finished reposting/linking this article into my own (much less famous) blog, and I hop over here to see that you’d done the same thing.

    Now I feel validated.

  13. Jim says:

    You have people that think the country was better when Fred, Barney and company were in charge of things. The cars got great mileage, more folks enjoyed the simple pleasures of life and there were jobs at the quarry. Mr. Slate was a pain in the ass, but that was just business. Today you have all this digital stuff and a joke becomes a worldwide hysteria with the click of a mouse. We are getting to the point where you will need a permit just to write a joke. The government is making people a nervous wreck with all sorts of paranoia and warnings about doomsday, dirty bombs, Iranian nukes or whatever they are stopping next. Then you have this steady stream of we are screwed, doomed, troubled and headed for ruin being pumped out of home computers and colleges everywhere in the land from hungover freshman and loony college professors or those freshmen imagining they are college professors in another life. Then we have the government radio tear jerker information service with somebody telling stories about their uncle, best friend or pastor who smoked a pack an hour and died from lung cancer. It was all so sad, we should all quit since smoking is bad. We collect your death tax so quit smoking we hate all this cash we are pulling in but it’s only government work. A buck is a buck! If people all quit smoking, we’ll need to tax information and the Net next. So keep on smokin’. You are making the undertakers rich, what is wrong with you people? If you want to smoke, have fun since you all gotta die and the government needs the tax revenues. We got a war to pay for this month. Don’t shoot anybody or civilians and be nice to cats, they can’t smoke. Animals aren’t vegitarians either. My dog likes eating tasty cows and fish. Jump into the fire if you want, but it won’t make you free. Have a whiskey and water and laugh it off. Welcome to my world of drunken and insane blogging. I want to be a TV pastor and take all of your money suckers and live like Jesus Christ on a 40 foot yacht paid for by you suckers. It’s tax deductible, so give till it hurts! Praise the Lord. Seriously, we have more dumb asses here than anyplace on Gods good earth. Keep on smokin’, it pays the bills. What a country of souls and the soulless. You bunch of heathens from hell.

  14. T.C. Moore says:

    Television is not the enemy.
    Bad taste is the enemy.

    You can achieve the same mindless escapism reading books as you can watching TV. You can also learn as much watching Frontline, Nova, and the Newshour, as you can reading newspapers, magazines, and books. The immediacy and demostrativeness of TV compliments the analysis and comprehensiveness of the written word.

    Beauty is in the eye of the consumer.
    Balance is the way.

  15. Ed Campbell says:

    There’s no shortage of reasons why so many parameters quantify our decline. The simplest is often the most accurate. Though many economists repeat slogans about the profits of this nation depending on educated workers, the creators of those profits, whether they be intellectual workers or blue-collar machine operators. In practice, the profit-takers never really gave a damn. It was teachers who gave a damn. Their average wages continue to decline in real dollars.

    Somewhere along the line, ideologues of education adopted the standards of laissez-faire capitalism to laissez-faire education. Both of which — in my decades of experience — are mistakes. Right now, we are beholden to a crew stretching from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — to George W. and Karl Rove to make the money side work.

    Sadly, the latter are in charge of making the education side work. The Liberal folks who preceded them said, “study if you feel like it, learn whatever you enjoy — we will pass you, regardless of whatever skills you acquire”. Now, the neo-cons say, “you will magically resume standards our nation walked away from, decades ago — because we’re going to give you better tests [and little or no funds]”.

    In the 70’s, I discovered that many of the young[er] folks I worked with were functionally illiterate. But, they graduated high school, even college. Today, most young folks are illiterate or, at best, ill-educated. And they will continue to graduate from high school and college.

    The same fools who parrot tripe like, “Love it or leave it!” don’t really give a damn about the quality of education. They want obedience, adulation, patriotism and power. They will continue to whine about criticism, good science and dissent.

    They always have.

  16. meetsy says:

    Geez, Site ADMIN, calm down!!! I thought…steve’s comment was scarcasm, at it’s best.
    ….I was thinking that maybe you were Canadian, eh?, Or something, because we all know only our “neighbors to the north” would come up with such a long list of what was wrong with us.

  17. Rick Shahovskoy says:

    Thomas’ overweening superiority must be noted by bowing and scraping before the little pencil-necked twerp.
    As a retired engineer I guess my education isn’t up to his standards even though I decry the disgusting standard of our public schools which have all but destroyed the last three generations of human beings in this great land.
    But Thomas’ knee-jerk attack is typical of the rabidity of the liberal who silences any disagreement with his narrow view of the world he sees through his twisted, infantile brain.

  18. Rick Shahovskoy says:

    Thomas’ overweening superiority must be noted by bowing and scraping before the little pencil-necked twerp.
    As a retired engineer I guess my education isn’t up to his standards even though I decry the disgusting standards of our public schools which have all but destroyed the last three generations of human beings in this great land.
    But Thomas’ knee-jerk attack is typical of the rabidity of the liberal who silences any disagreement with his narrow view of the world he sees through his twisted, infantile brain.

  19. Thomas says:

    Rick I’m afraid your stab in the dark was a complete miss on all fronts. (Hear that John, I’m “liberal” ROFL). Even if we assume your original post was sarcastic and not pure name calling, your follow up response clearly indicates that the I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I retort is the extent of your rhetorical faculties. Even as name calling goes, your effort shows as comically sophomoric.

    Amidst your return to school yard recess, you did contribute one small nugget relating to breadth of the problem in terms of time. This deterioration in the US public education system has been happening for some time. We are all waiting to hear are real solutions from our elected officials. We know that simply throwing money at the situation is, in and of itself, not enough.

    We know there is a problem with the quality of education in this country. To brand people that point out the problem as hating the country is simply another way of hiding the problem.

  20. Rick Shahovskoy says:

    No, Tommy. Your mommy should have taught you that when you do not respond to the expressed thought and prefer to mention names, instead, you are considered the vile, sophomoric prig that you are.


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