Pundits have produced a lot of opinions on who is responsible for the financial meltdown of the last couple of years. Depending on you mood and affiliations you can place the blame on any number of people or groups: greedy bankers, shady mortgage brokers, dishonest borrowers, haphazard and lax regulators. Bob Sullivan at Red Tape Chronicles has an additional factor to add to the mix: innumerate Americans. I think he makes a good case that it rather hard to spot the frauds and fixes when you can't handle basic math. Much of what he wrote doesn't really surprise me. Some 30 years ago when I started on my first stint in academia I had to take a basic remedial math course even though I had had good grades in high school math courses including business math, algebra and geometry. Eight years ago when I entered into another stint of academic training for a new career I again had to take a remedial math course even though I my previous courses included finite math, statistics, and calculus. Even though I didn't need the refresher most of my fellow students needed it badly. Between those two classes the news media frequently bemoaned the deficiencies of American students in math and science. The media still bemoans those deficiencies.
Thanks for the comments, Kay. The gloomy weather seems to seep into my psyche and I have almost no motivation to do anything. I hope the sun stays out more because I have so much more enthusiasm when it does.