No. 949



Over the past several months and years, our nation’s leaders have been grappling with major issues such as a nuclear threat from Iran, the death of four Americans in Benghazi, the war in Syria, radical Islam, and Operation Fast and Furious. On the domestic front, issues such as Obamacare, the national debt, illegal immigration, entitlement programs and gun control dominate the headlines of our major newspapers, television newscasts and talk shows. However, flying below the radar is another issue that, over time, may be even more devastating than those I have mentioned. It is an issue that is eating away at our nation’s economic security.
In a recent article in Bloomberg News titled, “Lack of literacy threatens U.S. prosperity,” writer Clive Crook chronicles our demise in skills that are critical to be able to compete in the world marketplace. All of us know we no longer have a national economy. We have a world economy and we are competing for markets where we buy and sell our products and services. Hopefully you will consider what I am going to share to be of interest, because it does affect you and your family. Here is what Clive Crook has discovered and reported:
“The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has just published the first results from an exhaustive international survey of skills. It’s the most authoritative project of its kind — a huge undertaking, comparing adults’ proficiency in literacy, numeracy (anything to do with numbers) and problem solving across the organization’s member countries. The survey measures the quality of human capital, one of the critical drivers for long-term economic success. The U.S. performance in these rankings is pitiful. The average literacy score for Americans ages 16 to 65 places the United States 18th out of 22 participating countries. In numeracy, the U.S. ranks 20th out of 22. In “problem solving in technology rich environments” – a measure of the capacity to interact productively with computers—the U.S. comes in 14th out of 19.
“These results are quite good when compared with adults ages 16 to 24. In literacy, young Americans rank 20th out of 22, and in problem solving 19th out of 19. Young Americans have slid to the bottom of the rankings mainly because young adults in other countries are doing much better than their predecessors did, whereas their American counterparts aren’t. The fact remains that the capacities of the U.S. labor force are consistently well below average, and those of the young segment rank dead last.
“One striking result in the study is that skill, or lack of skill, in numeracy, literacy and problem solving tend to go together. A disturbingly high proportion of young Americans therefore lack the ability to break out of a vicious circle of incapacity. If you struggle to read, do simple arithmetic and interact with the Internet, your possibilities for meaningful self-improvement are minimal and could condemn you to economic insecurity, long-term unemployment and low wages.”
Mr. Crook’s final comment should be worth serious consideration. “This is what a grave economic problem — a clear and present danger to U.S. prosperity and social cohesion —looks like. Perhaps when Washington tires of dealing with crises entirely of its own devising, it might give the real thing a moment’s thought.”
Now, I ask you, is the “Bookcase for Every Child” project important to our nation’s future?
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)