Saturday, November 22, 2008

Politicians Flunk Test on American History

This is astonishing. American politicians did worse than the general public on a test measuring knowledge of American history and the workings of the government. It's like a doctor failing a test on medicine.

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.

The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."

Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

President Obama Job Creation Video Address (11-21-08)

President Barack Obama made a brief video address on a job creation plan for bolstering the economy. His goal is to create 2.5 million jobs over 2 years.

Bloomberg on Obama's radio address:

President-elect Barack Obama said he aims to create 2.5 million new U.S. jobs in a two-year plan to simulate an economy facing a “crisis of historic proportions.”

Obama, in his weekly radio address, today said that “financial markets faced more turmoil,” potentially leading to a “deflationary spiral” that may plunge the nation further into debt and cost millions more jobs. New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century and 540,000 more jobless claims were filed last week, the highest in 18 years, he said today.

Job losses in the U.S. have totaled 1.2 million this year as the economy entered a slowdown exacerbated by the worst credit crisis in seven decades. More firings will weigh on the economy and consumer spending, putting pressure on Obama and Congress to agree on legislation that will stimulate growth.

“I have already directed my economic team to come up with an economic recovery plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 -- a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office” on Jan. 20, Obama said. “We have now lost 1.2 million jobs this year, and if we don’t act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.”