It’s harder to stop spendthrift politicians …

… when you don’t recognize that what they’re doing is wrong. That’s why a brief item in the latest Newsweek is so disturbing:

Asked to assess their own personal-finance knowledge, roughly 2 out of every 5 adults in a recent Harris poll awarded themselves a C or D. In fact, 1 out of every 25 respondents agreed with [financial adviser Peter] D’Arruda’s F, more than twice as many as two years ago.

The findings dismay the people who have commissioned the survey for the past six years. “It’s troubling,” says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Among the most worrying results: 56 percent of U.S. adults admit they don’t have a budget; one third don’t pay all their bills on time; and 39 percent carry credit-card debt over from month to month. Most of these numbers are worse than they were a year ago.

How should we address this problem? Wait for it.

Cunningham hopes a concerted effort between government and the private sector will reverse the nation’s troubling slide toward financial cluelessness.

By all means, let’s enlist the government to teach people about the importance of budgeting, paying bills on time, and avoiding crippling long-term debt.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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