Devolving Nation

Detroit’s inevitable bankruptcy is in the news today – yes, that very same city that President Obama “saved” just a short time ago.

But it isn’t just Detroit’s finances that have collapsed, as one of my favorite writers and analysts, Richard Fernandez (aka Wretchard the Cat) writes in his blog today.

CBS Detroit local writes: “Report: Nearly Half Of Detroiters Can’t Read”. Can’t read? In the 21st century? Detroit made the news today for being the largest American city to go bankrupt. If it is true that half of Detroiters can’t read it would go a long way to explaining the city’s collapse . They had spent billions on a school system that apparently accomplished nothing whatsoever.

DETROIT (WWJ) – According to a new report, 47 percent of Detroiters are ”functionally illiterate.” … Not able to fill out basic forms, for getting a job — those types of basic everyday (things). Reading a prescription; what’s on the bottle, how many you should take… just your basic everyday tasks,” she said.

“I don’t really know how they get by, but they do. Are they getting by well? Well, that’s another question,” Tyler-Ruiz said….

“For other major urban areas, we are a little bit on the high side… We compare, slightly higher, to Washington D.C.’s urban population, in certain ZIP codes in Washington D.C. and in Cleveland,” she said.

You can find the complete and highly recommended story at this link:

The fact is that no modern world nation can expect to live in prosperity with a mediocrely educated or skilled population. Detroit’s education system represents abject failure: how can any human being go through 12 years of schooling without picking up even basic communication, writing and math skills? As Fernandez points out, Detroit is hardly unique. Yesterday I had a long conversation with a top-drawer, highly educated Iranian-American professor in the sciences who lamented how far too-many incoming students did not have the rudimentary skills in communication, math and (more importantly) critical, logical thinking that should be expected of any college student. Apparently, many graduate programs at leading universities no longer require that students submit theses or published research in order to acquire advanced degrees. It used to be, not long ago, that the published thesis was the sine qua non of an advanced degree. As a nation, at all levels, our education is becoming mediocre.

When I was young, countries were defined as rich, rising, poor and destitute countries. In the 1950s, the term “Third World Countries” came to define generally poor and destitute countries that fell in between the alignments of Free World versus Communist World countries and economies. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the terms “developing” or “emerging” nations emerged, referencing poor countries with growth prospects.

All over the world, many former Third World countries are today exhibiting significant economic growth as capitalist principles take hold. Even perpetually turbulent Africa is showing signs of growth and stability. However, as the “First World” examples of Greece, Italy, France, Portugal, Detroit /United States illustrate, there is today a need for a new term that defines rich countries that pursue policies resulting in the devolution of their economies. These regressive countries, I propose, define “Devolving World” economies.