Friday, March 22, 2013

Too Stupid for Democracy?

Your typical American . . .
Some selected quotations from this article in Slate entitled are "Are Americans too Stupid for Democracy?"
  • In 2011, Newsweek asked 1,000 Americans to take the standard U.S. Citizenship test, and 38 percent of them failed. One in three couldn’t name the vice-president. 
  • Widespread ignorance of objective reality poses a genuine threat to democracy. The people of the United States have ignorance in abundance.
  • People don’t recognize their lack of competence[and] can't judge the competence of politicians
  • Politicians think their constituents are much further to the right than polls suggest. (Oh yeah: two scholars polled 2000 state legislators and found this out. And the more conservative the politician, the more wrong they were about what the voters really think).
  • The wealthy think the wealthy should pay more taxes, but they don't think they're wealthy. (Almost all Americans – even those in the top 5% of the wealthy – consider themselves "middle class." In fact, if you earn more than $250,000 a year, you are in the top 4% of the wealthy in this country.)
  • Americans like Sweden's distribution of wealth, and think they already have it. (I talked about this a few days ago.)
  • Government spending has decreased under Obama, but nobody knows it. (It's way, way down under Obama.)

  • The deficit has been stabilized and is shrinking, but only six percent of Americans know it.
  • "A 2011 poll conducted by CNN found that Americans, on average, think we spend 10 percent of the federal budget on foreign aid, and one in five said we spend 30 percent or more helping others abroad. The actual figure: about one percent. The average American also thinks we spend 5 percent of the budget on public broadcasting, when in fact it’s just one tenth of one percent." Here's where the tax dollars actually go.

I would definitely answer the title question in the affirmative. The writer of this piece is a little kinder, saying no, they're not too stupid, but they could be a lot smarter. I wish I were as kind or optimistic. But I look at our educational system, I look at our addiction to mindless entertainment, I look at the almost pride people taking their own ignorance, and I don't see any rosy future for us. I also observe both parties in this country, but especially the Republicans, just outright lying to people. The gross falsehood that Obama is responsible for most of the deficit is just one of the whoppers. I wish I could be more sanguine. But I do see things getting worse, and I don't see the American people getting one whit smarter.
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