I'm inclined to take a less emotional, more logical look at the article and conclude the author's an idiot.
He makes plenty of mistakes in his article. "I hated algebra, so you can, too." "I barely got through algebra when I was in school, so it must be a worthless subject." "I don't need algebra, so you won't either." And my favorite, "The best algebra student in class couldn't find the Sahara Desert on a map."
Yep, those arguments pretty much prove the lack of value of knowing algebra.
The knee-jerk reaction to an article like this is to start finding all the ways algebra is useful in the world--cell-phone calling plans are the current rage for such illumination. This, however, is the wrong tack to take. While practical application has a value of its own, so does knowledge for its own sake as an opener of the mind. A well-rounded, liberally-educated person needs to be able to do more than just write, more than just calculate, more than just know geography. A well-rounded person needs to know all of the above. And can we not accomplish that minimum after 13 years of school (14, if Reiner's pre-school initiatives passes)?
Mr. Cohen, in his disgust for an entire academic field, wants to close doors for students before those students even get to those doors. How many times must we hear--by the same people who don't think students should be taught algebra--about how all our low-skill jobs are being sent overseas? Or how many times do those who denigrate algebra refer to it as "college track" or "higher" math, notwithstanding the fact that it's taught to 13-year-olds all over the world? The motives of people who do this remind me of the motives of the Planned Parenthood crowd--it's not that we want to give you options (for an abortion, or not to take algebra), what we really want is for you to do it our way (have an abortion, or not take algebra).
I also don't accept the false dichotomy of knowing math on the one hand, and being able to do anything but math on the other. Knowledge of math and knowledge of ____ (fill in the blank with your favorite topic) are not mutually exclusive. I'm glad Mr. Cohen has found a way to support himself despite his lack of math knowledge. However, I assert he has succeeded in spite of his lack of math knowledge, not because of it.
I don't know if Mr. Cohen has a college degree or not. If he does, and he never took a math class above high school geometry, then I'm disappointed. A college degree should be an indication of a well-rounded education, and here in California the minimum math required to get into a 4-year state school is Algebra 2. Can't pass that course? You shouldn't have a college degree. I've said that here before.
If you want to dance, go to Juilliard. If you want to be an artist, go to the Academy of Arts in San Francisco. If you want to get a college degree, you should have a well-rounded education. In fact, the liberal arts originally included math courses, but what did those Renaissance people know, anyway? I assert that high school Algebra II is not sufficient for a college graduate. But that's just an opinion.
Want to be a reporter but don't know math (and how dangerous would that be, anyway?), start in the mailroom and work your way up through the ranks.
I addressed the algebra graduation requirement in this post. The following comment from that post is, I think, the best rebuttal to Mr. Cohen's rant:
Finally, I should hope that we are aiming a little higher in our school systems than teaching students how to survive.