Steve Sailer analyzes a New York Times article on America's alleged lack of understanding of math, and points out that the problem isn't that people lack numeracy, but that schools want to teach us to understand mathematics, not how to do math. In other words, math education is geared toward producing more math professors, not provide useful tools.
I had similar questions as I progressed through the various levels of mathematics before becoming completely flummoxed when I reached the level of differential equations and linear algebra. For instance, I always wondered about the emphasis on proofs. I was perfectly willing to accept a theorem on faith. And it always irritated me that math was presented abstractly, rather than providing useful tools. Frankly, I find that most of my math training to have been absolutely useless--I don't use it, have never used it, and have forgotten most of it. I would have been better off to have had classes in accounting in high school than to have taken trigonometry or calculus.