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Please consider this Quiz



August 24, 2009 – Comments (12) | RELATED TICKERS: DE , B , T

For the sake of discussion, suppose registered voters were given this test at polling places, and they could only vote if they passed.

1. Which of these four countries (Mexico, Russia, China, Japan) owes the U. S. the most money?

2 Which of those four countries does the U. S. owe the most money?

3. Within an error limit of $5,000.00, what is the per capita national debt of the U. S.?

4. Which is the largest debtor nation in the world?

5. Within an error limit of $5,000,000,000.00, what is the current fiscal year U. S. projected deficit?

6. Within an error limit of $50,000,000,00.00, how much money have U. S. financial institutions received from the U. S. government?


Now my questions for you, CAPS players:

A.  What do you think should be the minimum passing score for someone to be allowed to vote?

B.  What percentage of registered voters do you think would pass with your criterion?

C.  What effect do you think such a restriction would have on the outcome of elections, and what kind of people would then be elected?

D.  How would you answer the six test questions?




12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On August 24, 2009 at 4:42 PM, caterpillar10 wrote:

considering our history in the deep south this has about as much chance here as a 4th reich in europe. i will say it can cut both ways - 'smart' people got us where we are today; and, on a positive note, it would have spared us 4 years and possibly all 8 of W.    

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#2) On August 24, 2009 at 5:45 PM, jstegma (29.41) wrote:

the percentage of eligible voters would shrink to way less than 1%. to say that it would have spared one president or another is absurd.  it would have spared us basically all of them because the quiz is too damn hard.  No, it's 1.87T, not 1.86T, so you can't vote (yeah, I know these are both probably way wrong).

the quiz questions are poorly written and there would be a lot of debate about the correct answers.  You need to make yourself answer the questions as posted with no clarifications whatsoever and document the numbers you use to get your answers.  My guess is that you'll miss some of them if we get technical enough.  At least you'll see that the questions are a bit ambiguous.



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#3) On August 24, 2009 at 6:09 PM, caterpillar10 wrote:

i accept absurd, however, neither logical questions nor right answers, when possible, were ever the intent of 'literacy tests' in polling places.


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#4) On August 24, 2009 at 6:33 PM, kristm (99.74) wrote:

Just requiring voters to actually be legal residents and actually be registered to vote in their own names would fix 90% of the problems. But the Supremes just voted against laws requiring simple photo ID in states like Georgia because it discriminates against the illegal aliens and con-men we need to keep folks like Obama in power.

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#5) On August 25, 2009 at 10:55 AM, edwjm (99.87) wrote:

First of all, let me thank each of you for the time and effort you took to reply.

In reading the replies, however, I wonder if I made the point of the post clear enough.  I did not intend to propose that particular test or, indeed, any such test as a requirement for voting. What I wanted to point out is that many of our representatives  in Washington are representing the interests of people who have no idea of the current level of indebtedness of the U. S., the rate at which it is increasing, to whom that indebtedness is owed, or the magnitude and kinds of expenditures that are increasing that indeptedness.

I am aware of the history of "literacy tests" in the south, which is far from what I intended to bring into discussion.

As for the test leading to quibbling over fine points, notice that I went to the trouble of specifying generous margins of error in some of the questions.  Oh yes, and it was only a typo that I omitted a zero.

I hope this makes the intent of my post clearer.

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#6) On August 25, 2009 at 11:09 AM, outoffocus (23.71) wrote:

I get the point of the post and therefore +1 rec from me.

I wanted to point out is that many of our representatives  in Washington are representing the interests of people who have no idea of the current level of indebtedness of the U. S., the rate at which it is increasing, to whom that indebtedness is owed, or the magnitude and kinds of expenditures that are increasing that indeptedness.

You hit the nail on the head.  I just pointed out in brickcity's post that we have an incompetent masses controlling whats happening in this country. Basically our political leaders are merely pandering to the lowest common denominator, just like every other major institution in this country. Its hard to vote competent leaders in office when you are outvoted by people who get all their political information from Fox News and MSNBC.  Its even more difficult to get bills passed that are actually in the best interest of the whole country rather than simply benefitting one group of people.

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#7) On August 25, 2009 at 2:00 PM, kristm (99.74) wrote:

We're incompetent masses because we've let the government be in charge of education for the last century. Just wait to see what kind of masses we are after 100 years of government controlled health care.

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#8) On August 25, 2009 at 2:01 PM, edwjm (99.87) wrote:

Thank you, outoffocus!

The current national debt is $11,734,229,054,268.74 and rising.

That is $38,247.20 per capita!

The debt increasing at an average rate of $3,910,000,000.00 per day!

China is the country holding the largest share of that debt.

Think the question about per capita was too hard?

With the limit of error I gave in the question, any answer between $33,247.20 and $43,247.20 would be acceptable, but there are still few people who could give an acceptable answer to the question.

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#9) On August 25, 2009 at 2:11 PM, outoffocus (23.71) wrote:

We're incompetent masses because we've let the government be in charge of education for the last century.

I wish I could agree with you but sadly enough I think most people are incompetent by choice. Its not like we didnt learn math, science, and history, because we all did.  Heck the majority of us are college educated.  The main problem is school cannot teach you common sense, which seems to be a major element missing from the American public.  We expect television to think for us.  Anytime you need a study to tell you something like "too much television is bad for kids", you've reached a point where you can no longer think for yourself.  Just look at the stock market. Its completely devoid of common sense. You want to blame the Board of Education for that too?

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#10) On August 27, 2009 at 12:44 AM, kristm (99.74) wrote:

Children are taught lists and facts, not reasoning. They're taught to obey the adults, always trust the experts, and not to do anything too hard or competitive. They also learn that anything bad that happens to them is someone else's fault. Damn right I blame the education system.

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#11) On February 25, 2010 at 4:32 PM, cashkid79 (94.30) wrote:

I know it's well beyond the original blog date, but I wanted to hopefully add some insight regarding the education system that we as voters have all been a part of (in some way).

I know someone personally that had completed their theses for a PhD in a very specialized area, however, one of the professors responsible for it's acknowledgement before receiving this doctorate did not agree with a part of the theses (on largely philosophical grounds), and in short, they were forced to walk away from this degree as a result of the unwillingness to go against their own (educated) beliefs and agree/concede with this individual. After this happened, they went to another department/institution and not only received their PhD, but continued on to a career at the highest of levels (just say that I sleep better at night knowing this person is in a position that allows their ideas/intelligence to be utilized for the general best interests of humanity). <--THIS, in my opinion, is a great example of dysfunction in the education system...fortunately, my personal educational experiences have been mostly supportive of individual reasoning, having even taken courses specifically focused on developing this quality, although I would say personal reasoning is not a specifically developed area of study until around the last year or two of a bachelor degree program for undergraduates. I personally did also receive direction from middle/high school teachers as a child that encouraged my own individual reasoning - though it was mainly in 'gifted' program, advanced placement, etc. courses. 

Kritm raises an issue that many US citizens have voiced concern over, however, consider our military that supports and defends all US citizens' rights and freedoms - the very framework that makes it function properly is based upon training (BASIC training, to be clear) to learn lists, facts, ALWAYS obey the experts/higher ranks, push one's self hard (beyond perceived ability), and the 'competitive' concept within a unit is somewhat undercut by the (important) concept of being part of a team/unit/unified force with interests above/(equal to) those of any single member. Accountability, well - corporate executives, treasury department officials, and many other political figures are or have been accused of lacking acceptable levels of this one.  

So, I guess MY main point here is that nothing should be so easily thrown on the shoulders of any single or specific system or entity, such as the education system. I would like to specifically address the last post to express my opinions as an educated US citizen and voter -->  Should the education system promote lists and facts? YES...Should the education system promote reasoning? IF, at the time, the purpose is more important than the further development of core/foundation knowledge that will be an essential element as a basis for reasoning ability in the future is, then YES. However, I consider creative and abstract thought to be something separate from reasoning, so taking that into account, children will spend the majority of time learning information and not reasoning. A favorite quote of mine by Confucius best states my beliefs in this area: "To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous."...Should the education system promote obeying adults? Obvious...Should the education system promote trusting the experts? YES, especially in the case of children for which 99.9% cannot possibly have yet learned enough facts & lists to have the ability to 'reason' with or against these experts.  The more important issue here I think is - on what basis and by what authority the 'experts' are defined...Should the education system promote mediocrity? NO, and it's important to consider that everyone, including childen, have a personal choice regarding (competitive) BEHAVIOR as it relates to personal grades, rank, status, etc. in America, regardless of what the education system promotes or does not promote. The education system can structure the environment for children/students in ways that are more or less likely to force the engagement or participation in competitive/difficult activities, and this is an issue with which some have differing opinions(obviously)..Should the education system promote teaching children that anything bad that happens to them is someone else's fault? I wasn't personally aware that the education system was teaching students that bad things that happen to them were someone else's fault. However, this one does come back around to accountability, and it's hard in my mind to blame the education system for not teaching or promoting accountability when there are many individuals who have attended the highest ranking schools (public and private) in the country that still encounter issues concerning levels of personal accountability. That said, accountability is something that everyone should promote in everyone as it is in the best interest of everyone doing the right thing; education is regarded as the right thing for children in this world, so the burden should accordingly fall on everyone.


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#12) On August 12, 2010 at 11:08 AM, drgroup (69.10) wrote:


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