A quarter of the American population are at the level of an undiscovered tribe living in the rain forests of the Amazon Basin and eating grubs fished from rotting logs.
By Fred Reed
Listening to Biden prattling about democracy, democracy, democracy, and how we must save American democracy from swarming threats to democracy, with the insistence and urgency of a starveling aluminum-siding salesman, I am filled with wonder. Convincing people that they live in a democracy is a lot of work, like pumping air into an inner tube with a leak. America is no more a democracy than it is a potted plant.
Functional Illiteracy at Fourteen Percent in America: Department of Education
Functional illiterates cannot fill out a job application, manage a checkbook, read a simple story in a newspaper, or use the social media. Those who can’t read don’t, and another large number who can barely read don’t either. At a low estimate they must amount to a quarter of the population. They vote.
Democracy is best suited to towns of a few hundred people who, however dim of wit in many cases, may understand such questions as should we build a new school which will cost me so many dollars in higher taxes. Even here the more crafty and avaricious will likely prevail.
A problem in democracies—“democracies”—is of course that the dim, the inattentive, and those who are both dim and inattentive, will always outnumber the bright and informed. However, the syndrome worsens as the domain upon which the electorate is to make judgement expands from town to state to country to world. The number of unintelligent is constant. The number who are insufficiently attentive rises with the complexity of things needing attention. A cardiac surgeon is no fool, but has work, medical literature he needs to read, family, and a hobby or two. Little time is left to worry about semiconductor sanctions against China or Washington’s desire for Russia to invade the Ukraine.
“Take your pick from this bouillabaisse of ignorance:
* More than one in three people (37%) could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment. THE FIRST AMENDMENT.
* Only one in four (26%) can name all three branches of the government. (In 2011, 38% could name all three branches.)
* One in three (33%) can’t name any branch of government.“
People so innocent of political grasp can have only the most vaporous notions of pressing political questions. They are either fools with minds best suited for working as gardeners or so little engaged with the surrounding society as to achieve the effect of being fools while still able to find their way home at night. Still others are not unintelligent but not interested. None of these should vote.
“A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.”
This is so astonishing that one might suspect it of coming from some crackpot blogger with no girlfriend living in his parents’ basement. But no. The National Science Foundation is about as respectable as they come. A quarter of the population are at the level of an undiscovered tribe living in the rain forests of the Amazon Basin and eating grubs fished from rotting logs. Little prospect exists that people in such darkness know much of anything else. Yet we encourage them to vote.
“Six Baltimore City schools — five high schools and one middle school — were found to have not a single student who scored proficient in math or reading in 2016, Fox News reports.”
Others schools had only a handful of literate students. Math results were as grim. These “students “will be around for another fifty years if they are not shot, virtually unemployable. Yet they can vote.
The schools mentioned are all black, and similar figures would come out of similarly black schools in many other cities. What does this say about “democracy “in America?
Gallup: Forty-six Percent of Americans Believe in Creationism
The distribution of intelligence being symmetric, half of the population are below average. A man with an IQ of 90 is not actually stupid, doesn’t mumble or bump into things, and can successfully raise a family and drive a truck. Yet he is unlikely to grasp the foreign policy of the United States or, really, to have heard of it. If he has any knowledge at all of public affairs, it will be at the level of The Russians are bad, wherever exactly Russia is, so we need to spend more on Our Boys in Uniform.
A lot of people get their news from television, the medium of the illiterate and semiliterate. Obviously, not everybody who watches television is illiterate, but everybody who is illiterate watches television. Many don’t watch the news at all, it being complicated and mysterious and talking about the inexplicable and unknown, such as Kazakhstan and Nordstream Two. The consequence is that if MSNBC and CNN say over and over that the Chinese are doing something terrible, most will believe it. Judging by the intellectual level of much of television, a sentence with a dependent clause will exceed the capacities of many. They vote.
Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” You don’t have to. Being a politician, he didn’t add that you can fool enough of the people enough of the time, and that is enough. This is the basis of American democracy.
77% Of Students At One Baltimore High School Read at Elementary, Kindergarten Level
”In reading, 628 Patterson High School students took the test. Out of those students, 484 of them, or 77%, tested at an elementary school reading level. That includes 71 high school students who were reading at a kindergarten level and 88 students reading at a first-grade level. Another 45 are reading at a second-grade level. Just 12 students tested at Patterson High School, were reading at grade level, which comes out to just 1.9%.”
Democracy? A democracy of fools is no democracy. It allows the very smart, concentrated in New York and Washington, the governing suites of major corporations and, nowadays, the distributed wunderkind of the tech firms, to run the country from behind the scenes. Whether intended or not, the drive to lower the voting age and enfranchise the ghetto populations serve only to further diminish the pitiable competence of the electorate and allow the elites to keep these untermenschen out of the hair of their betters.
“I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,” Pelosi said. “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government, to be able to vote.”
The less bright, less informed, and less experienced of life are easier to mold and manipulate. Who could be better than children?
If America wanted a functional democracy, which it doesn’t, it would, first, raise the voting age to 25 or 30. The idea that adolescents of eighteen with no experience of life beyond libidinous frat parties, much less sixteen-year-olds, can vote intelligently is silly. (Not that I have anything against libidinous frat parties. They just aren’t qualification for voting.)
This would require a recognition that voting should be a privilege, not an entitlement and that government should be done by people able to do it.
Second, a demanding version of the old literacy test would serve wonderfully. This should demonstrate at a minimum a reading fluency of political ideas express in standard English. A reasonable grasp of world geography and American government might profitably be required. Perhaps a measured IQ of 120 or better should be in the mix.
This would make the bamboozlement and competitive shooing of the puzzled much, much harder, which is why it will never fly with the elites who find an electorate of the easily led congenial.
These measures would also screen out various minorities disproportionately. They would also ignite the resentment against the bright and cultivated that forms the bedrock of American society.
Comprehensive ignorance extends to groups many of whom are presumably well educated. Consider the following:
“According to the Washington Post database, regarded by Nature magazine as the “most complete database,” 13 unarmed black men were fatally shot by police in 2019. According to a second database called “Mapping Police Violence”, compiled by data scientists and activists, 27 unarmed black men were killed by police (by any means) in 2019.”
This shows that forty-four percent of liberals are incompetent to vote. If the misestimate is reduced to five hundred, many more believe it. Similar numbers could probably be compiled for conservatives on other questions, conspiracy theories being promising candidates.
Race is the most dangerous, destructive, and intractable problem facing America, yet these people are too stupid, lazy, inattentive, emotional, or worm-eaten by ideology to have even a faint grasp of what is happening. But they vote.
If liberals, a category including academia, the media, and a great many of the highly educated believe such wildly erroneous numbers, it is likely that blacks, a group in large part poorly educated, believe these things at a higher rate. Do you suppose convincing them that they are being slaughtered en masse improves race relations?
The very bright will always rule, though not always obviously. An IQ of 140 is said to be entry level for Wall Street. This excludes well over ninety-nine percent of the population. Mike Pompeo, while a wretched human being, was first in class at West Point and editor of the Harvard Law Review, Hillary a National Merit Finalist, putting her in the upper .5 percent of test-takers in Illinois. Bill was a Rhodes scholar.
Intellectual mediocrities will often be in prominent positions, Joe and Kamala being examples, in Congress and the White House, these being storefronts for the very smart. The brains, and the power, are in the shadows. But, methinks, a genuinely bright electorate would be less likely to anoint freaks and rogues.
Interesting question: What would be the effect of requiring an IQ of 130, the cutoff for Mensa, to vote? The idea will arouse shrieks from an American public famously resentful of excellence except in football. (I am reminded of a fellow fourteen-year-old in Athens, Alabama who, seeing me reading a book on biology, said angrily, “You ain’t no gooder’n me.”) A test for voting of course runs against the current policy of enfranchising the mentally lame and halt. Would the upper two percent of the population do a better job of electing leaders? They would certainly be much more difficult to con.
I will now go to the American Legion in Chapala, which makes really good huevos rancheros, which I will accompany with a double bourbon, and pretend that things aren’t as they are. Sometimes, it works.
FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”
Hardboiled is back! (The exclamation point is to arouse wild enthusiasm int the reader, a boiling literary lust.) Gritty crime fiction by longtime police reporter for the Washington Times, who knows the police from nine years of riding with them. Guaranteed free of white wine and cheese, sensitivity, or social justice.