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Are Americans Stupid?

I like to see the best in everyone, but when I follow some of the "town hall" meetings on health care reform, I have to ask... Are Americans really stupid? What is with the recent town hall meeting in South Carolina where an elderly man stood up and told his Congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare."

Huh? Buddy, I got news for you. The government is the "single payer" for your Medicare benefits. The government already decides what it will pay for or not. The government already has a bizarre formula for reimbursing doctors and hospitals. Every young worker under the age of 65 is paying every month for your Medicare so you can go to any doctor or hospital you want.
Mr. Ignorant, I have a question for you; "Do you want to give up Medicare and buy some insurance on the open market, like the rest of us suckers?"

I flipped on Fox news last night (Yikes!) and watched a rally in San Diego. Someone said health care reform would make them "go before a government board to determine if they can get a test". The government will take your "life and death decisions into their own hands. " "He (Obama) wants to ram this down the throats of the American people without any debate."

Without any debate!

Bill Maher (of HBOs "Real Time with Bill Maher") comes up with New Rules. Read his latest for a laugh and a cry on how stupid Americans can actually be. My favorite quote from his New Rules on stupid Americans is:

"And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There's a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. "Inside the beltway" thinking may be wrong, but at least it's thinking, which is more than you can say for what's going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they're talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin"


Katie said…
I hate to be a grammar Nazi, especially since I agree with all the actual content of your post, but your title is just too ironic. Please fix? It hurts :(
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Katie: Fixed! I don't want you to be in pain.
David MD said…
I disagree with you regarding "stupid Americans." True, they don't understand the system, but Americans are scared that goverment tampering with our health care system will result in socialized medicine. They are afraid we'll end up like Britain and other countries where there are long lines for "elective" procedures like hip replacments. I did three months clinical rotation in a tertiary center in London so I have some experience with NHS medicine.
I too am afraid of government tampering because politics does not allow the goverment to charge those people who voluntarily incur addtional health care costs through lifestyle (e.g. smokers and those who eat daily pizza, Big Macs, sugar cokes, etc) to pay for those costs which means others subisdize those costs resulting in rationed health care.
There is nothing socialised about European and Canadian medical care . Some of the taxes that they pay go for that program . It is just like buying coverage from an Insurance Co. Like we have here . The difference is that everyone is covered and the Doctor does not have to get permission from the Insurance to practice medicine . Maybe Americans are not stupid ....but boy are they "brain washed ".
Nick said…
Hi, Dr. Brayer! I've been reading the same things you have been and am concerned as well -- I'm a strong supporter of a public option for American health care and am trying to raise awareness through my own blog. Stop by and let me know what you think -- I could always use the wisdom of the experienced.

I also have a note for David -- because the current system dumps the uninsured and underinsured into emergency rooms for primary care, Americans already end up paying through the nose for those who have unhealthy lifestyles. If we would just take responsibility for each other, the opportunity for prevention would save us money and alleviate considerable suffering.

I live in downtown Los Angeles, and smokers nowadays are disproportionately older and lower class. Are these worse people? Parasites? No, they're the ones who've never had a doctor or nurse sit them down and tell them that smoking's killing them, and offer them (cheap!) ways to quit like nicotine gum, group counseling, and the patch.
David MD said…
One reason why the current system is dumping uninsured etc. is because we are spending enormous sums of money ($147 billion per year on obesity alone according to a recent report in Health Affairs) on people's lifestyle choices.

It simply is not right or fair for people that have chosen to eat fruits and vegetables instead of sugar coke, Big Macs, etc. and who do not smoke to pay for the health care costs of those that choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you yet many choose to smoke.
Naturally we should try to help people to quit smoking and eat healthier food.

But one reason why I don't want the government involved is that the way things are today they want people who choose a healthy lifestyle to subsidize the health care of those who choose an unhealthy lifestyle. That is not right. There will be plenty of money for the uninsured as soon as the government makes those people that deliberately incur greater healthcare costs pay for those healthcare costs.

Unless we stop these subsidizes there will be rationing. There will be long lines for “elective” procedures like hip replacements.

"Are Americans Stupid?"

There is no discussion or debates when it comes to our tax money going toward spending trillions of dollars on "illegal Wars " or "manufactured wars " if you prefer. Hundreds of billions towards the Pentagon and the war machine , hundred of Billions on the "Drug War" while 40+ millions of Americans cannot afford health insurance .
The big debate is mainly on keeping the Insurance Co and Drug Co. getting fat on "very uninformed "Americans and what their tax money should be paying for
This comment has been removed by the author.
In the UK and Europe the Health Insurance is paid by taxation. Unemployed people still do not pay. They buy lottery tickets though and as such a third of lottery profit should really go into health care.

Found your site via Grand Rounds.

The Cockroach Catcher
Hope said…
I have also heard that it's unfair to force those who do not have children or chose to send their children to private school to pay for the education (through taxation) of others. I think the argument whether it's regarding education or universal health coverage is malignantly stupid. It is for the good of society as a whole to have healthy, well educated members. Very few people who eat poorly or smoke are thinking of the toll their decisions are making on their health. Likewise, not everyone who is overweight, diabetic or has heart disease is that way because they ate Big Mac's. If their was a direct correlation, where would you who spent your young adulthood eating from candy machines and patient trays be?
Anonymous said…
The cost of medical care over a lifetime is actually highest for a healthy person, followed by an obese person, followed by a smoker with the lowest cost. This kind of goes against everything we hear, but upon further reflection makes sense. While smokers die relatively early, it's the healthy person that is most likely to incur huge care costs at the end of life, over a period of months or even years (alzheimer etc.)
Anonymous said…
Reality Rounds said…
I hate to say it but yes, Americans can be stupid. I am a nurse and I see it everyday at work. It is mostly ignorance, not wanting to know. Intellectual incuriousity, if you will.
My husband and I recently went on a vacation in a very small town in the middle of nowhere. I am a news junkie, and was very disappointed when the local news channels had not one national news story covered. Not one the whole four nights we were there. Ignorance.
Riva said…
This is interesting. My question is, are CATS covered under Obama family health care plan?
Anonymous said…
Americans are willfully ignorant not stupid. They look for information that confirms their world view and they forcefully and willfully reject anything including the truth that doesn't conform to that world view. For years American politicians have been outright lying about the Canadian health care system. We have single payer and we have private health insurance. We can have both and most of us do through our employers. But if you believe American media and politicians you would think there are no private insurance companies in Canada. You would think Canada rations necessary medical procedures instead of knowing that we don't ration we woke up and came to our senses when we eliminated ridiculous procedures like nose jobs, face lifts and more unnecessary medical interventions.
If you want to get lipo you can purchase private insurance and pay for that yourself.If you need heart surgery the public system will happily cover that.

I have repeated many times that Americans will never have single payer Universal health care because Americans have not made the philosophical and moral jump that is required. We as Canadians believe that health care is a basic human right and that outrages most Americans especially health care providers.
Until as a country you make that leap you will always choose the bizarre . I have no idea why Americans feel it's necessary to protect and support HMO's profits while the very same HMO's are doing everything they can to deny them access to health care. I worked in Kentucky and had HMO coverage. It was ludicrous. You all yelp and moan about rationing while you pay an insurance company whose very existence depends on rationing your care......can we say cognitive dissonance?
You happily pay co-pays along with your premiums and when someone has the gall to suggest that maybe this system is unfair and unsustainable half the country starts howling: get your grubby government hands off my medicare when no one has even mentioned it.

This has to be willful ignorance because if it is stupidity there will be no recovering from it and that scares me.
Bob said…
The President has made the following assurances:

(1) 47 million Americans who have no health insurance will now be fully covered.

(2) Those who are currently covered by Medicare or commercial insurance will have no diminution of the care they currently receive.

(3) All this will be done with no net increase in health care costs or addition to the federal deficit.

I would be more likely to characterize as "stupid" one who believes all these things can be done simultaneously, than one who does not so believe.
Anonymous said…
I agree with Bob 100%. Keep government out of Health care...
Anonymous said…
How about taxing the wealthiest 2% an extra point (those with roughly $400K taxable income per year), or reverting back to what they payed under Reagan or Bush. That would more than cover the extra costs, and that is how many proponents plan on paying for it. That means no extra cost to the taxpayer and no increase in the deficit. BTW, money borrowed that is spent on an investment does NOT increase the deficit on the balance sheet. There are plenty of public investments that actually return more than the initial expenditure (or save the public coffers more in the long run, as the case may be).
Bob said…
"How about taxing the wealthiest 2% an extra point"

followed by

"That means no extra cost to the taxpayer"

Given that the top 1% income bracket pays 40% of the taxes, the proof of stupidi^H^H^H differently giftedness in this post can be left as an exercise to the student.
Unknown said…
Americans aren't stupid, I think, but they are grossly missinformed by the lieing rightwing political parties and they do have an attitude of the US, and all who sail in her, is best.

I wrote this letter to several US newspapers but I shouldn't think that anyone of them picked it up and published it. I hope that my British sarcasm does not go over the heads of the John Doe:

Conservative Lies and the Truth About Britain’s NHS

As a nurse and an educator who has proudly worked in Britain’s National Health Service for over 30 years at all levels of the organisation from junior to very senior, I must correct at least some of the misinformation being disseminated by Republican apparatchiks and right-wing conservative groups.

Britain’s National Health Service is funded from tax revenues contributed by the entire working population for the benefit of the entire population and occasionally for visitors (including Americans). The tax-based contributions ensures a steady stream of income to the Service that is not dependent upon the whims and fancies of a remote and uncaring insurance company whose raison d’etre may well be saving costs.

Let me lay to rest two of the most extreme instances of deliberate dishonesty spread by the neo-cons and worse Sarah Palin. They claim that Britons over 59 years old are not eligible for treatment of heart disease. I can’t wait to tell my 72-year-old sister that the investigations, treatment and drugs she has had for her chronic heart condition are merely myths and the pills she takes in the morning and the cardiologist she visits every two months and the regular family doctor visits (all free) simply do not exist – they are just figments of her imagination.

For the weeks he was a patient in his local hospital and until the day my father died at the age of 75 of complications from a badly fractured femur he was operated on, given antibiotics, nursing and medical care and all the facilities expected of a western advanced health care system all at no cost to him or his family. Indeed if my mother were unable to afford the fare to travel to visit him in his last weeks this too would have been provided.

And I can categorically state that anyone who is 77 or older will certainly be treated for brain cancer or any other disease process minor or major, acute or chronic and would not be denied treatment.

As for government appointed ‘death panels’ well as in the US euthanasia murder and assisted suicide is illegal in the United Kingdom. Although our government may send many young soldiers to die alongside you Yanks in Afghanistan it has not yet grasped the concept of a Brave New World euthanasia campaign.

There may be deficiencies in the NHS, no system is perfect, but treatment is universally provided to all regardless of ability to pay. The treatments that are denied are those that are experimental and unproven by clinical trials as being effective and cost efficient. Again cost efficiency is a prime consideration of the American health system and the for-profit conglomerates that control it.

For neo-con Republicans and their cronies to stoop to such despicable depths as to disseminate rumours and lies as truth is sinking to the depths of depravity in advance of their own self-interests.

I would also like to remind those liars and lunatics that the U.K. spends less per head on healthcare but has a higher life expectancy than the U.S. The World Health Organisation ranks Britain's healthcare as 18th in the world, while the U.S. is in 37th place. I think this says it all.

The fact that tens of millions of Americans have no access to health care is something that should dismay every right thinking U.S. citizen. To deny health care to those who cannot afford to pay the exorbitant costs of health care in the U.S. is nothing short of uncivilised and inhumane; and a very different professional ethos from that which operates in the United Kingdom.
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Rhondda: Thanks for your excellent comments. It is always great to hear it from someone who knows what is happening. The amount of misinformation in the U.S. is staggering.
Unknown said…
Dear Dr Toni
Thanks for your comments. Grammar, syntax and construction of my comment should have conformed to the Queen's English - as she is spoke in those isles - but written in a rush and with a degree of indignation. Next time I'll correct the errors of verb/noun agreements etc.

Good luck with the campaign and I hope the President Obahma is not further cowed by the strong lobby and vested interests.

Americans you deserve a better healch care system.
Jonathan said…
When I was growing up in suburban New Jersey we lived in house with a big backyard. When I asked my father where my mother was, he’d typically reply, “She’s on the south forty”, meaning she was somewhere in our backyard. This was an interesting answer for a guy who grew up in New York City, for I later learned in college that the south (east or west) forty is a term for identifying a quarter quarter section of land as described by the Township and Range survey system.

How, do you say, is the Township and Range system of 1785 related to the current debate on healthcare reform? A single word – education. The Founder's realized the connection between education and democracy and consequently within each township the Congress reserved a section “for the maintenance of public schools”. By 1787 with the passage of the Northwest Ordinance, Congress further codified the importance of education to democracy in Article III noting that “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged”. Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler in 1810 said, "I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength: 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it." To students of history it seems clear that the Founders felt that an educated citizenry was essential to preserving a democratic society. (Full disclosure: I am not an academic historian).

The black and white notions of “You're either with us or against us” don’t serve us well. Today, in a world vastly more complicated and interconnected than the agrarian society of our forefathers, we need an educated citizenry to comprehend and make decisions on matters of infinite shades of gray. I think we’re reaping the miserly rewards of an educational system that isn’t near maximally serving our democracy. How many children haven’t been left behind by the No Child Left Behind Act? The folks who administer the ACT, the college entrance exam, reported recently that, on average, only about 25% of the students who took the latest exam were prepared for college.

It’s education. The recent viperous debates, if you could call them debates, regarding healthcare suggest that it’s more than children that have been left behind. The nation, and Jeffersonian ideals of the need of an informed citizenry to perpetuate democracy, is being compromised by the state of our educational system. What would Jefferson have to say about education and our current healthcare debates?
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Jonathan: Of course, as always, you are correct with your observations. When Johnny can't read and all information is delivered in sound bites, it is no wonder Americans "seem" (are) stupid.

I was listening to right wing radio this week and learned:

1. There is no health care crisis. 80% of people have insurance and are just fine. Obama and his fascist friends want to take over healthcare, just like they took over the financial industry.

2. The government wants to get into health care so it can tell us what treatments we can have and what doctors we can go to. Grandma will not be allowed to have heart surgery or a hip revision if the white house wins.

3. Our country has the best health care in the world and we are the envy of the world. People from European socialist health countries are flocking to our borders to get our healthcare.

I believe this show has fans and listeners in the millions.
Unknown said…
I am not making a pejorative comment here but I really don't understand why these right-wing disseminators of misinformation and abuse are allowed to broadcast. I know that freedom of speech is vital to a free and democratic society, but really freedom of speech has limits. Those limits are reached when downright untruths are spouted across the country and when lies and mendacious non-sense taken as truth. Then these stations should loose their licences to broadcast and shut down.
These networks are no more than fascist organs masquerading as the mouthpiece of truth and enlightenment. US if you know what's good for you get rid of them.

Off topic I know - I wonder if Rupe Murdoch (or as the Brits call him - the Dirty Digger) reads this blog?
I think the USA needs to wake up.

Australia spends 8% of GDP on health you spend 14%+.


Our government makes Big Pharma give discounts if it wants prescription medicene to be subsidised.

Do a search on the "Pharmaceutical benefits scheme Australia". Your Big Pharma wanted that bit of good for the people out of our free trade agreement.

I have an accident and says it costs $300k usd , I am uninsured I still get fixed and don't have to pay and yes if I was insured I would have more choice and quicker.Its good health care, not bargain basement. Plus I dont have to sell all my assets to have it if not insured.

Companies don't have to have medical as part of their employment as the state takes much better care than yours ever has.

It shard enough making a dollar without. that

The FDA in concert with Big Pharma has suppressed a lot of alternative health.

On Mercola ( read an article about $4 billion + Big Pharma spends on directly wooing doctors. Here and in Europe we have banned it and its called bribery.

We dont have advertisements on mainstream TV for Big Pharma like you do, thats not considered good.

Frankly the rest of the Western world is shaking its head in dismay at this debate and I feel sorry for you. For decades you have been getting reamed.

The top end has great care in the USA, the bulk not so good.

Your private health system is more costly and not as good as other western nations. Most of the OECD spend less as a percentage of GDP and live longer.

Cuba's health care makes the USA look 2nd to 3rd world. Do some research you will see I am right.
Unknown said…
After reading about the recent anti-health reform demonstrations in Washington DC and seeing some of the people, hearing and reading what they said about Obama and the Bill I am truly shocked at the ignorance of the people, they do not seem to want to be informed and that I think is the definition of stupidity.

Despite my previous comments I now strongly believe that many, many Americans are truly, utterly stupid. I despair for your countrymen and their health.

This is written by a Brit who is deeply perplexed and despondent at the quality of the GOP and its base tactics and the disrespect that some Americans have shown to President Obama. Shame and damnation on them.
Anonymous said…
The public option is basically a proposal to have a federal funded health insurance company. A NOT FOR PROFIT health insurance company. What will that do to the market? How will the premiums for your current policies be affected? hmmm.... maybe they will be for the first time in American history COMPETITIVE.

Maybe your health insurance company will realize that it has a competitor on the market that isn't forming a destructive cartel that can just drop your coverage anytime.

I for one love America but Americans are indeed stupid. Why, most people don't know the information I stated above.
Anonymous said…
I really am concerned about the Public Option because our government seems to manipulate tax dollars and I am afraid we'll all get heavily taxed and the money would be impossible to track. I also worry about being in a long line to get help if my kidney is failing or something... and there are 300 people waiting to get an infected thumb treated and I die waiting for treatment. But on the other hand, I have no way to get a realistic medical coverage plan. So in the end, I guess this would help us to not rely so much on big businesses to take care of us. In the end, all of society is relying on eachother... but we don't seem to have enough unity to figure out this healthcare issue with the aid of corporations. The government is the only thing that could possibly regulate a fair contribution to everyone. I saw a lady with Ovarian Cancer on a street corner holding up a cardboard sign trying to get donations so she doesn't die. And nobody would give her a dollar. I think in a situation like that, everyone in town should donate fifty cents.... which would be half a million dollars... more than enough to pay for her treatment. That's, at least, my opinion from an uneducated perspective.
Anonymous said…
The health care debate is minuscule when discussing the idiocy of my fellow Americans. Americans actually think that mortgage companies loan the money for people to buy homes. The money comes from Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. The mortgage companies are middle men milking Americans out of there hard earned money. Anytime a president, congress person tries to make things better for the people their twisted minds think it is better to not have the government involved. The government by and for the people. Nope, time and time again they prefer government by and for the corporations. I am a baby boomer and I know first hand what is happening. Back in the day when I was in my twenties I had good insurance provided by my employer. Sure I paid for half but it was 100% coverage. Now days most people in their twenties have no insurance. You can dispute that fact in your mind all you want but it is a reality. It was those people in their twenties that had employers who paid for half of their insurance that made the system work. In my twenties and thirties I had no claims. Most didn't. So to sum it up for you. Millions of baby boomers are headed to a time of needing a lot of health care. You got what you wanted. Cheap junk from overseas, no unions and now soon to be, no health care that you can afford. Way to go!
Invertir en oro said…
I think it's important that we all know a little about this subject so interesting, I think it's part of human culture tell us about such things.
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I fully tie in with everything you have printed.
Anonymous said…
This is SO funny! I nearly went into convulsions when I saw this picture I was laughing so hard!

Nice mullet, "moran!"
progger said…
Q: Are Americans Stupid ??
A: Quite simply YES !!!
End of Story.... deal with it. You can't even look at yourselves objectively without getting all head up and intolerant... and you DO NOT have a sense of humour. The rest of the world thinks you are fools....

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