Saturday, January 21, 2006

Even College Students Can't Understand Basic Economic/Mathematical Matters (I say, ditto a lot of people running America!)


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

According to this study, most Americans can't read credit card offers. No surprize: they are written to be impossible to understand unless one is very clever or very suspicious or downright evil---like me.

From CNN
More than half of students at four-year colleges -- and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges -- lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks such as understanding credit card offers, a study found.
OK, several things here. Ever try reading credit card offers? First, the fine print is not only fine, they print it in light grey! I have to turn on search lights to see it, it is like getting a super secret message from a CIA spy! Worse, it is written in an archane language called, "Ponzian" which is similar to German, all the verbs are at the end and everything you don't need to know are capitalized.

Anyway, they haven't sent any in cuniform or Chinese but I suppose that is in the developmental pipeline, no doubt.

I actually do sit down and read these documents in my mail, after all, I write about economic matters. It is difficult, at best. I remember the Democrats passing a bill calling for simpler language in credit offers. Well, kiss that goodbye!

Several years ago, I applied for a fixed rate loan. I even asked the banker in front of several witnesses (always, always bring witnesses when talking money with anyone!!!!) if it was a fixed rate and was told, it was. So one day, I get the monthly statement which we go over carefully, and we saw that the payment schedule was altered and then noticed the new interest rate being charged.

So we charged down to the bank who tried to weasel out but we brought the witnesses and pointed to my notes and they had to recind the rate increase but I closed the account.

See? It isn't mere "are you able to understand the Rosetta Stone?" but really nailing down these slimy bastards when they openly, verbally, lie.
The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.
In Europe, you aren't allowed to stint on the tips, especially in France which is why the waiters are rude, heh. It is automatic. Ditto in most of Manhattan.

Most fine dining establishments, one passes the American Express to the waiter and checks off which percentage one wants to pay. Then they bring back the paper, you check to see the balance due and then OK it. Sounds simple enough.

Calculating in the head is a nice skill which I strongly encourage. One must be able to see instantly relative figure values like the difference between $4.2 trillion red ink under Clinton and $8.1 trillion under Bush, Bush doubling, roughly, our collective debts from all Presidents up to the end of eight Clinton years! Heh. Seems simple math to me and why do so many powerful men seem utterly unable to understand this number and what it means? Can't they read the writing on the wall, "Yo, dummies, we are going bankrupt"?
Without "proficient" skills, or those needed to perform more complex tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization.

Most students at community colleges and four-year schools showed intermediate skills. That means they can do moderately challenging tasks, such as identifying a location on a map.
American students are famous for not finding things on maps. We are lucky we can find our own asses in broad daylight. This is why we want to dominate the world. Then, everything is "USA" so we won't be lost.

What really disturbs me is Bush. He got, I would bet, through fraud and cheating, degrees from our top universities, Yale and Harvard. Yet he seems to not only not know very much about virtually anything, he can't even speak English. So how did he crib those tests?

Another Skull and Bones mystery! Yeah, that is it.

Greenspan is supposed to be a genius yet he seems clueless about his own field of expertise much less archane stuff like the declination of High Middle German verbs, for example, or the history of Mesopotamia from 6000BC to modern times. We just want him to be honest and open about simple things like how much money is the Fed printing these days and how is it impacting on inflation and is the budget deficit really under $500 billion a year, if so, how could Bush run up over $2.5 trillion in red ink in less than five years? Some dead cat is bouncing somewhere.

Last I looked, we never went over $425 billion, mostly in the $300 billion range. So where did the mysterious extra trillion missing dollars go? Hmmm. Maybe they do know their math, these clowns, and are really thieves.

Well, arrest them all. And force our students to learn real economics for once. Of course, this means changing our entire school system. Arg. Students who figure out figures: revolutionary. Dangerous.
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