Sunday, July 17, 2011

It Is A Good Thing That Most Americans Are Bad At Math

It is a good thing that most Americans are bad at math. It is even better that they don't understand statistics, and perhaps the best thing is they are not curious about their history.

Because if they were, there would be a revolution -- about now.

They would know, for example, about a term economists use called "median wage stagnation," which is fancy language for a simple concept: the average American worker hasn't gotten an inflation-adjusted raise since 1973 -- almost 40 years ago. They would also know that the top 1% have tripled their income during the same period of time. 40 years ago, the heads of corporations were paid about 26 times the average employee's wage. Today, that multiplicand is over 300.

This is what revolutions are made of.

But in order to have a revolution one needs a population who is interested, informed and committed to righting the wrongs of history, hardly descriptors of the average American who is fat, uninterested in economics beyond the fantasy of the lottery, suffers from a disturbing lack of imagination, and isn't interested in righting the wrongs of history, mostly because he doesn't know any history and even if he did, seems only interested in being "rich and famous," as if those were vocations.

Admittedly, that is a pretty nasty evaluation of mankind, but it is also, well, accurate.

And, it is why the power elite in our country have no worries, not yet.

History will judge them harshly, no doubt, but Joe Lunchbucket and Mary Cubicle just want to make it to the weekend and have a few dollars to buy something, anything, if only because it eases the pain and fear for a moment.

In the words of a friend, "Their shit is broken."

Indeed it is.

And it is about to be smashed into unintelligible pieces since today in America an employee has a smaller chance of moving up to a higher income bracket than in almost any other developed economy. Good thing he doesn't know that, either. It's the new "Rags to Rags" story that replaces the American Dream which was mortgaged and foreclosed upon.

Now, without a home to use as an ATM, credit cards maxed out, student loans overdue for educations that won't buy living wage jobs, the average American is broke, dead broke. Most hate their jobs but, like a heroin addict hates the fact he is an addict, doesn't stop either from looking for their next fix.

It has taken nearly 40 years to get from there to here. Many a dream has been shattered. Most Americans couldn't last a month without their jobs. 40 million have already hit the wall and are on food assistance. The ones who still believe themselves "upwardly mobile" are mostly hopeless optimists, or are up the ladder in the banking system, or are lawyers ready to haggle over the ruins.

It didn't have to be this way. Jefferson said that the key to a successful democracy is an informed electorate which has slowly disintegrated into Cheeto-chomping TV zombies who substitute their strident volume for knowledge, credit for savings, and still believe it all works out for them in some undetermined future, if only because they have no usable knowledge of how they ended up in the discount aisle of the Dollar Store this Sunday afternoon.



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