Apparently tests have shown that people are getting smarter. The average I.Q. score is 100. But over the years the tests have had to be made more and more difficult in order to keep the average at 100. If the average teenager of today with an I.Q. of 100 could take the I.Q. test of 30 years ago, the teenager would score an I.Q. of 120.
This is especially good news when you consider that today's economy demands higher skill levels; and so the smarter people are, the better they will fare in the economy of the future.
It also proves what I long suspected: I am smarter than my parents. Of course, it also proves the claims of my kids -- that they are smarter than I am.
No one knows for sure why people are getting smarter. The experts suggest better nutrition, better health care, better education, better parenting. Perhaps some of these factors are arguable, but it's undeniable that many things are getting better over time. We have lower crime rates and higher educational levels. And, for sure, we have better health care, which leads to longer and healthier lives. The figures prove it: A person born in 1920 had a life expectancy of about 54 years. A person born in 1950 had a life expectancy more like 68 years. And for those us us still alive, in our 60s, we can expect to live well into our 80s.
Yet, according to Real Clear Politics, some 66 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, while less than 30 percent believe we're headed in the right direction.
Steve McCann in the conservative-leaning American Thinker says we realize we're in trouble for several reasons. The national debt has ballooned to almost $20 trillion. While the economy has produced almost 6 million jobs since 2008, the working age population has increased by 18 million people, which means fewer people of working age are actually employed. Also, whether you love immigrants or hate them, the sheer number of immigrants over the past quarter century has put pressure not only on the job market but on schools, housing, roads and social services. According to McCann, in 1988 there were 16 million immigrants living in the United States. Today there are 42 million immigrants, including some 12 million who are ... either "illegal" or "undocumented" depending on your political persuasion.
All this has contributed to the unequal distribution of income which has upset the treasured American notion of a classless society. According to McCann, since 1988 the inflation-adjusted income of the top 5% of Americans has risen about 40% while the income of the bottom 50% has fallen by about 2%.
And while younger Americans may be smarter than their grandparents, Americans have actually fallen behind on a relative basis -- we have not progressed as fast as our European or Asian counterparts. In 1990 American teenagers scored in the top 10 among industrialized countries for their proficiency in math, reading and science, but today our teenagers are ranked down in the 20s.
McCann concludes, with an eye on the current presidential election, "A vast majority of American people sense that the future of the nation is in serious jeopardy ... and one of the most troubling aspects of the current unease is what this portends: when anger and frustration evolve into deep-seated passion, reason is too often a casualty."