I didn't say "stupid".. I said "innumerate", which I think is due to in part to intellectual laziness and in part because math life skills are probably not emphasized and valued in school. So aside from the truly mentally challenged, we have a whole passle of "average" people who don't have the tools to seriously assess their CC or mortgage contract. They can easily be distracted by the shiny object: the $40k car at $299/mo. vs. the $30k car at $399/mo.? Pick one.
The entire society is filled with anti-intellectualism. Do you want to hang with the jocks or the nerds? Do you want a president that's "wonky" or one "you can have a beer with"? I think a lot of kids experience peer pressure to NOT excel. Homework is for chumps and stooges. Being a "know-it-all" is uncool and makes others feel insecure, so they'll try to drag everyone down to a comfortable level.
Sis wrote me:
Just had to share my conversation with the young teacher across the hall.....
I told her I was moving and would be selling my air conditioner... and that it took me a long time to find one that would fit the small upstairs windows we all have.
She asked me if you plug it in.
I think girls and women sometimes sell themselves short because 'ditzy' is more acceptable and cute and non-threatening. I think guys sometimes have chips on their shoulders and are more likely to have an unrealistic picture of their financial or intellectual skills.
I don't know how or why there are so many barely functional people out there, but someone is taking care of them, graduating them, paying them, promoting them...
This is not just in the US btw.. In Italy, I was told by a friend of DH that I had a "character defect" because I wanted to know what the Italian word for "barnacle" was. Barnacles are all over the world. They cause billions of dollars in damage and slowdowns for shipping. For a few days I asked everyone we came across, probably about 50 Italians, and no one could give me a name either in Italian or in a local dialect. We were vacationing in a town that was very near the sea!!! They said "oh, you mean mussels?".. or they said "yeah, I know what you're talking about.. they're mineral incrustations!" I even drew pictures for them! The majority was completely incurious and just shrugged, a few seemed a little embarrassed for not knowing, and a couple, like DH and his friend, were downright irritated. Why did I need to know that? It was not "useful". I was defective, not them!
As far as finances go, generally speaking Italians buy houses or leave their money in the bank at 1%. The stock market is "too risky"!
They also like annuities.