News flash: Algebra iz hardz

Reading the dead tree version of the New York Times yesterday I KNEW an op-ed by the suspiciously named Andrew Hacker, Is Algebra Necessary, would be the most emailed story today, which it is. 

Hacker is a critic of the American education system, a position he shares with umpteen million American schoolkids. He argues that forcing all students to master algebra is misguided and a leading cause of our high droupout rate. You think?

I sucked at algebra. My poor dad was a math genius and it killed him that I didn’t get his quadratic equation genes. Looking back, I’m glad that I didn’t, because his incredibly patient algebra tutoring sessions are some of my fondest memories of him. 

Anyway, aside from undergirding everything in our physical world (not to mention being the foundation of all of computer science), what has algebra ever done for us?