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  • Robert Farago

Stupid People

Are everywhere. Now what?

Everybody knows the world is full of stupid people. That piercing glimpse into the obvious comes to us courtesy the Refreshments’ song Banditos. Actually, I’m not buying it.

Stupid people have no idea the world is full of stupid people. They’re too stupid to realize they’re stupid, never mind that they’re surrounded by stupid people.

Back in the Day…

The education system used to give stupid people a heads-up on their intellect, or lack thereof.

As they ascended to higher grades – or not – they came to realize that not flunking represented the height of their academic achievement.

At the same time, they saw classmates sailing through incomprehensible material with A’s and B’s.

The system forced stupid people to confront their limitations. And, through guidance counselors, the simple fact that limited mental skills limit life choices.

Tempus fugit

In 1953, Elvis Presley (rear of the class above) matriculated from Memphis’ L.C. Humes High School. He was the first Presley to make it through 12th grade.

That year, the public High School graduation rate was around 50 percent.

Earning a High School diploma meant something. Not having one meant you were stupid and/or delinquent (another form of stupidity).

And that was OK! The country needed stupid people or, more charitably, people who could do work that didn’t require academic excellence. Like . . . truck driving. Or singing.

Feeding the Maw

Somewhere in the 70’s, a lot of smart people realized they could make a lot of money sending stupid people on to “higher education.”

The educational industrial complex couldn’t grow without significantly increasing the pool of potential students. The call went out: more high school grads!

By 1977 – the year your author received his first diploma – the high school graduation rate had ascended to 75 percent. And now?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 85 percent of current High School students “earn” a virtually meaningless diploma.

Mission Accomplished!

To the point where colleges and universities welcome tens of millions of uneducated, illiterate and numeracy incapable students into their once-hallowed halls.

To the point where President Obama felt free to tell stupid people they had a “right” to a college education (knowing that his audience was too stupid to know the Constitution is silent on the subject).

The High Cost of Stupidity

Back in the day, if stupid people harbored any illusions about going on to higher Ed, the SAT test burst that bubble faster than an F-22 taking out a Chinese spy blimp.

The test’s been repeatedly “simplified” to include shorter passages with lower reading levels and simpler math problems. Stupid people were cleared for take-off!

A 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study reports that just under half of all Americans aged 16 to 24 years old were enrolled in a four-year college or university.

As of the first quarter of 2021, some 43.2 million past and current American students carry student loan debt.

The average student loan debt is $38,792. As the chart above indicates, that number represents an entire year’s worth of post-graduate income.

You know where this is going. Has gone. America has dumbed-down its entire education system for money, and paid the price.

America First! Or Not

According to the latest data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 13th out of 38 countries in reading, 18th in science, and 37th in mathematics.

Thirty-seventh out of 38 for math? No wonder Samsung is importing 500 engineers from Taiwan to staff its new Taylor, Texas chip-making factory.

Other than the financial impact of an education system tailored to stupid people – on both stupid people and the country – there are two major problems with the stupid status quo.

First, our dumbed-down education system punishes smart people. Not rich smart people; their parents find good schools for their children. Poor smart people.

The smart children of economically-challenged parents are stuck in schools catering to stupid people, where smart children can’t get the quality of instruction they need to succeed.

Second, stupid people aren’t being channeled into education – and thus work – that suits their intellect.

Great Landing, Wrong Airport?

According to the NCES, the U.S. is home to approximately 4,000 vocational, career and technical schools. As opposed to 5,758 degree-granting institutions.

NCES pegs the average enrollment for a two-year vocational school at 2,600 students, for a total of 10.4 million students. As opposed to the 23 million students currently enrolled in four-year degree schools.

Shouldn’t that be reversed?


Artificial Intelligence offers smart people in stupid schools the chance to develop their smarts, independently, at their own pace, tapping into all the information in the entire world, cheap.

AI also holds out the prospect of educating stupid people to the full extent of their intellectual abilities, such as they are. It’s way more fun than books!

Meanwhile, same as it ever was. Millions of young adults continue to emerge from four years of party-centric unemployment with massive debt and little to no practical skills.

More Good News!

Shop class is making a comeback. Its return highlights the only solution to our stupid education system: allowing the natural selection process inherent in our capitalist system do its thing.

I reckon stupid people are becoming smart enough to realize they’re better off in vocational schools – or getting a job – than killing time, money and brain cells at a traditional higher education institution.

So there is hope. But what do I know? I’m one of the stupid people who was smart enough to go to a four-year University. Which, in retrospect, was stupid.

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