It's obvious now that Donald Trump is averse to reading. He may be the first functional illiterate to receive a degree from Wharton. There's a story there that we still have not heard.
So what's the good news for the Cheeto Bandito, the Mango Mussolini, the Great Orange Bloat? Illiteracy seems to be catching on in America.
The average eighth-grade reading score on a nationally representative test declined among public school students in more than half of the states, according to data released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the Education Department.
The dismal results were part of the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card.” The test assesses a sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students — more than 290,000 in each subject in 2019 — every other year.
“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse,” Peggy G. Carr, the associate commissioner of the center, said in a statement.In other words, the dumbing down of America proceeds apace. Which brings to mind an op-ed in today's Guardian by the two joint winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in economic sciences. They write that the public has become dangerously estranged from the views of economists.
This trust deficit is mirrored by the fact that the consensus of economists (when it exists) is often systematically different from the views of ordinary citizens. The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago regularly asks a group of about 40 prominent academic economists their views on core economic topics. Working with the economist Stefanie Stantcheva, we ran a survey: we selected 10 of the questions that were asked of the Booth panel and put them to 10,000 Americans.
On most of these issues, our respondents were sharply at odds with economists. For example, every single member of the Booth panel disagreed with the proposition that “imposing new US tariffs on steel and aluminium will improve Americans’ wellbeing”. Only a third of our respondents shared their view. And the gap is not only because people are not informed of what economists think: telling them does not seem to change their opinion one bit.
... Part of the problem is that there is plenty of bad economics around. The self-proclaimed economists on TV and in the press – chief economist of Bank X or Firm Y – are, with important exceptions, primarily spokespeople for their firms’ economic interests, who often feel free to ignore the weight of the evidence. Moreover, they have a relatively predictable slant towards market optimism at all costs, which is what the public associates with economists in general. It does not help that there is a class of economists who make predictions about broad trends in the economy, which often turn out to be wrong.No wonder it is branded "the dismal science."
Another part of the problem is that, especially in the UK and the US, a lot of the economics that has filtered into government thinking is the most beholden to orthodoxy, and the least able to pay attention to any fact that does not square with it. Economists are therefore naturally seen as those who keep repeating that regulations, taxes, and public spending all need to be slashed to let the market be, and that eventually everything will all “trickle down” to the poor, even as we watch inequality exploding.