Fine, Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton, Mr. McCain, but where will you find good, educated administrators who understand the world and are trained to think?
The Bush administration has been famously populated either by incompetents or by ideologues so biased in favor of industry that they give the impression, fairly or unfairly, that they would rather see children be poisoned by their toys than regulate the worst crook. This is not just bad deciding by The Decider but a more sinister trend - - the country is so dumbed down that educated and literate good people (folks!) are becoming fewer and don't in any case want to go into public service:
- In 1982 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; in 1992 the figure was 67%, and over 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book in a year. Common Core says that No Child Left Behind has impoverished public school curriculums by testing for reading and mathematics and nothing else. A survey conducted by Common Core in January 2008 found, for instance, that children identified Hitler as a munitions maker, an Austrian premier and the German Kaiser. Few knew he was German Chancellor in the Second World War.
- The number of 17 year olds who read nothing outside school doubled between 1984 and 2004.
- Babies between 8 and 16 months have been shown to recognize an average of 6 to 8 fewer words for every hour spent watching videos. (Univ of Washington 2007).
- One in five adults think the sun revolves round the Earth (Nat. Science Foundation).
- Nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 don't think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is made.
- The astonishing lack of general knowledge, even among well educated people with PhDs, is one of the things that struck me personally when I came years ago to the United States.
- The video culture has meant that Presidential candidates in 1988 had only an average of 9.8 seconds in debates to get a point across, compared with 42.3 seconds in 1968 . This has probably got worse under the anti-intellectual government of the last seven years and with the increasing grip on the media by a small group of right-wingers.
- The steady drip-drip of anti-government propaganda and pressure to reduce taxes has discouraged good candidates from top universities from joining government service. Among a recent crop of Ivy League graduates not a single one opted for government service. As fewer bright men and women enter public service so the quality of government work will suffer and the public perception of government worsen. It is a canker that feeds upon itself. Extremists maybe don't care - - the rest of us have reason to be very concerned.
- This is a pincer movement, not just a phenomenon of the know-nothing right wing - liberal academics have written Shakespeare and the greats of English literature out of curricula and have substituted Latino, homosexual and African-American Studies and have given tenure to the professors involved. Everyone has to have an A Grade!
One could go on to the faith items: "intelligent design", the age of the earth, the creation of Man, but I won't.
How will we be governed in the future?
(Source: largely The Week and the New York Times, February 27th and 29th 2008)