Sunday, November 23, 2008

Are you smarter than a politician?

Courtesy of Marginal Revolution.

Yes, this is real. As bad as it is that the average score on the civic knowledge test was 49%, it's worse that elected officials scored 44% on average. Here's one of the questions they got wrong:
"Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to 'supervise the first televised presidential debates.'"
Didn't we just have an election?

Here's a copy of the test. Some of the questions at the end are a little specific to economic policy, including questions on free trade and the difference between market and centrally planned economies. In the interest of full disclosure, I got a 97%.

Perhaps we shouldn't be all that surprised that elected officials scored worse than ordinary citizens. While people often compare the political process to high school student council (where it's all a popularity contest), I liken it more to college student council, where the people who get elected are the only ones interested in having the job. Far from getting the best and brightest, many of our politicians are simply the ambitious and power-hungry; and in some cases, they're simply people who couldn't get hired to do anything else.

All this points to one conclusion:
"Those who can't do, legislate"

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