I Feel Better Now
So I used to think that I was the only American reading my posts to this blog, and that used to make me feel bad. But now I don't feel that way. Yes, I'm probably still the only American reading my posts. But it's not because my fellow citizens don't want to read it. Well, not only because they don't want to. It's also because they can't.
You may have heard lately that one-third of the adult residents of Washington, D.C. are functionally illiterate. Functional illiteracy entails struggling to read maps, simple instructions, bus schedules. That's horrifying, yes. But the truly horrifying number comes when literacy groups and reports try to contextualize that number. It is, they say in impressive tones, much higher than the national figure of one-fifth of Americans.
At this point, America's real capital isn't manufacturing. It's intellectual production. With that many functionally illiterate people, America will soon find itself too stupid to produce the episodes of "Ow, My Balls!" that it watches.
And democracy? Forget it. If you think that being able to track USA Today's "Snapshot" is too hard for some people, you don't believe in citizens debating and deciding their collective path forward.
Of course, the silver lining here is that what has made China such an economic superpower in past decades is a combination of embracing the free market, rejecting political freedom, and having a huge pool of unskilled workers living at the edge of starvation. And if things keep up as they are here, in ten years we might be able to outcompete them in all of those categories. Just think of all the plastic models of the Great Wall and all the bobblehead Yao Ming dolls the peasants of Sacramento and Portland will be able to ship to the consumer classes of Fujian province.