When it comes to the slowing economy, Ellen Spero isn’t biting her nails just yet. But the 47-year-old manicurist isn’t cutting, filling or polishing as many nails as she’d like to, either. Most of her clients spend $12 to $50 weekly, but last month two longtime customers suddenly stopped showing up. Spero blames the softening economy. “I’m a good economic indicator,” she says. “I provide a service that people can do without when they’re concerned about saving some dollars.” So Spero is downscaling, shopping at middle-brow Dillard’s department store near her suburban Cleveland home, instead of Neiman Marcus. “I don’t know if other clients are going to abandon me, too.” she says.
Even before Alan Greenspan’s admission that America’s red-hot economy is cooling, lots of working folks had already seen signs of the slowdown themselves. From car dealerships to Gap outlets, sales have been lagging for months as shoppers temper their spending. For retailers, who last year took in 24 percent of their revenue between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the cautious approach is coming at a crucial time. Already, experts say, holiday sales are off 7 percent from last year’s pace. But don’t sound any alarms just yet. Consumers seem only mildly concerned, not panicked, and many say they remain optimistic about the economy’s long-term prospects, even as they do some modest belt-tightening.
Consumers say they’re not in despair because, despite the dreadful headlines, their own fortunes still feel pretty good. Home prices are holding steady in most regions. In Manhattan, “there’s a new gold rush happening in the $4 million to $10 million range, predominantly fed by Wall Street bonuses,” says broker Barbara Corcoran. In San Francisco, prices are still rising even as frenzied overbidding quiets. “Instead of 20 to 30 offers, now maybe you only get two or three,” says John Tealdi, a Bay Area real-estate broker. And most folks still feel pretty comfortable about their ability to find and keep a job.
Many folks see silver linings to this slowdown. Potential home buyers would cheer for lower interest rates. Employers wouldn’t mind a little fewer bubbles in the job market. Many consumers seem to have been influenced by stock-market swings, which investors now view as a necessary ingredient to a sustained boom. Diners might see an upside, too. Getting a table at Manhattan’s hot new Alain Ducasse restaurant used to be impossible. Not anymore. For that, Greenspan & Co. may still be worth toasting.
51. By “Ellen Spero isn’t biting her nails just yet” (Lines 1-2, Paragraph 1), the author means ________.
[A] Spero can hardly maintain her business
[B] Spero is too much engaged in her work
[C] Spero has grown out of her bad habit
[D] Spero is not in a desperate situation
52. How do the public feel about the current economic situation?
53. When mentioning “the $4 million to $10 million range” (Lines 3-4, Paragraph 3) the author is talking about ________.
[A] gold market
[B] real estate
[C] stock exchange
[D] venture investment
54. Why can many people see “silver linings” to the economic slowdown?
[A] They would benefit in certain ways.
[B] The stock market shows signs of recovery.
[C] Such a slowdown usually precedes a boom.
[D] The purchasing power would be enhanced.
55. To which of the following is the author likely to agree?
[A] A new boom, on the horizon.
[B] Tighten the belt, the single remedy.
[C] Caution all right, panic not.
[D] The more ventures, the more chances.
Americans today don’t place a very high value on intellect. Our heroes are athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs, not scholars. Even our schools are where we send our children to get a practical education -- not to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Symptoms of pervasive anti-intellectualism in our schools aren’t difficult to find.
“Schools have always been in a society where practical is more important than intellectual,” says education writer Diane Ravitch. “Schools could be a counterbalance.” Ravitch’s latest book, Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms, traces the roots of anti-intellectualism in our schools, concluding they are anything but a counterbalance to the American distaste for intellectual pursuits.
But they could and should be. Encouraging kids to reject the life of the mind leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and control. Without the ability to think critically, to defend their ideas and understand the ideas of others, they cannot fully participate in our democracy. Continuing along this path, says writer Earl Shorris, “We will become a second-rate country. We will have a less civil society.”
“Intellect is resented as a form of power or privilege,” writes historian and professor Richard Hofstadter in Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, a Pulitzer-Prize winning book on the roots of anti-intellectualism in US politics, religion, and education. From the beginning of our history, says Hofstadter, our democratic and populist urges have driven us to reject anything that smells of elitism. Practicality, common sense, and native intelligence have been considered more noble qualities than anything you could learn from a book.
Ralph Waldo Emerson and other Transcendentalist philosophers thought schooling and rigorous book learning put unnatural restraints on children: “We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for 10 or 15 years and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing.” Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn exemplified American anti-intellectualism. Its hero avoids being civilized -- going to school and learning to read -- so he can preserve his innate goodness.
Intellect, according to Hofstadter, is different from native intelligence, a quality we reluctantly admire. Intellect is the critical, creative, and contemplative side of the mind. Intelligence seeks to grasp, manipulate, re-order, and adjust, while intellect examines, ponders, wonders, theorizes, criticizes and imagines.
School remains a place where intellect is mistrusted. Hofstadter says our country’s educational system is in the grips of people who “joyfully and militantly proclaim their hostility to intellect and their eagerness to identify with children who show the least intellectual promise.”
56. What do American parents expect their children to acquire in school?
[A] The habit of thinking independently.
[B] Profound knowledge of the world.
[C] Practical abilities for future career.
[D] The confidence in intellectual pursuits.
57. We can learn from the text that Americans have a history of ________.
[A] undervaluing intellect
[B] favoring intellectualism
[C] supporting school reform
[D] suppressing native intelligence
58. The views of Ravitch and Emerson on schooling are ________.
59. Emerson, according to the text, is probably ________.