American Ignorance and Republican Arrogance

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Mobs of people, stirred up by lies, are attending town halls on health care reform. The town halls are being held, by and large, by Democratic members of the House and Senate. The biggest reason is to bring out the facts about the health care reform bill that Congress and the President are building for the People. Yet the People, mostly ignorant, illiterate, inarticulate and even incoherent, parrot idiotic comments from a big, well-heeled amalgamation of lobbying groups…this time the health care and health insurance lobbies.

The Republicans see these people as sheep, stupid, lazy people, the kind that can be herded into town halls, manipulated to disrupt any meeting with placards, to shout and scream in favor of whatever the Right Wing favors at the moment. The Republicans ridicule them in private. The idea that you can somehow promote relatively poor, vulnerable or barely middle class people to not only vote against their own best interests but actually violently demonstrate against their own best interests is, frankly, hilarious. And sad.

This is how far we have come with the American system of education and our means of transmitting and understanding important public information. Those who do not make it to college get almost no education at all. Latin? To help you think logically? Are you kidding? Algebra, geometry, advanced mathematics? To think analytically? Generally speaking, the private educational system or affluent communities are the only places where you will find a heavy focus on those subjects.

Let’s get statistical! Where do we stand in the world on, say, Math? Our general impression is that our kids are some of the the best of the best. Well, hold on.

In 2003, comparisons among a subset of 12 of the 40 industrialized nations, in the same tests, we finished in the following ranks for Grade 4, 8, and age 15. We ranked 8th, 9th and 9th. We ranked lower than Latvia and Hungary. Against the entire 40 we ranked number 11 at grade 4, number 15 at grade 8 and number 27 out of 40 at age 15. Some private educational research foundations have it worse than that.

But that’s math and who’s good at math anyway? Right How about this: according to the Broad Foundation, only about 70% to 75% of kids graduate high school. For African-Americans and Hispanic teens living in lower-income areas it can drop to 50% or lower. This means that something like 12 million kids drop out every year.

But what about those who don’t drop out? How good is their education? We already know where they stand in math. Here’s what the ranting and raving Americans from the town halls actually know when tested.

According to a report in 2007 published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute out of 14,000 college students, the average score on a basic, fundamental U.S. History test was 55%. In a recent study only one in four people could name more than one of our basic five freedoms in the Constitution (Freedom of speech, religion, freedom of the press, assembly, and right of petition.) Yet people will attend town meetings talking about losing our Constitution and they don’t have the faintest idea what our Constitution says They don’t know the difference between Communism, Socialism and Fascism and yet they hold up signs and draw swastikas, not knowing what in the hell they are talking about.

A recent poll still showed that only 22% of Americans know that there are 100 Senators and only 40% can identify all three branches of government. A similar poll that asked who was our greatest president resulted in just 14% for Lincoln and a mere 5% for Washington.

It is not surprising. This generation does not read. Only 43% say that they read at all. Only 20% of those under age 34 actually read a daily newspaper. Most get their information from television. And how good is that means of obtaining information? Half of Americans think the President can suspend the Constitution at will. Only 34% know that it takes Congress to declare war.

But do they understand the economics of the health care program? Not likely. In a recent study on Americans and political science, only 5% could identify the right answer to questions of basic economics. Some young people, referred to as in the “high knowledge” category watch Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly (and we assume a lot of them watch Keith Olbermann.) The average age of those who regularly watch news channel CNN is sixty.

So how are these Americans going to make any clear, logical decisions? They can’t. Republican politicians paid by health insurance lobbies will mail them and call them and run ads on television tell them that their world will end by somehow getting affordable, accessible, guaranteed health insurance. If they are ignorant, they will follow the demagogues. That is what always happens when populations get lazy. And we are there. The majority of Americans—over 50%–cannot even name their own Congress person and their two Senators.

Americans are now shouting that they don’t want health care because it is unaffordable. We have too much debt now and we can’t add more. They know this because some talking head said it. They know nothing more than this. They don’t know about the wars and the tax cuts and the Wall Street greed and the draining of government funds. They don’t know that Social Security has had an average surplus of $150 billion dollars a year since 1983, but it was stolen by Reagan and Bush and Bush and a little by Clinton and after all that theft of our money, we have been left with the bill — $11 trillion dollars and a current deficit of $1.5 trillion. Not Obama, but Bush and Cheney and Bush and Reagan.

So, now, suddenly the geniuses showing up at the town halls have awakened to the budget problems. Gosh. Where were they or their parents when Ross Perot was flashing charts to anyone who would listen, talking about how the deficits would bring the country down and how NAFTA would send many more jobs abroad than would ever be created here.
The medical services sector has now become basically a cartel, with only a few firms and they are robbing the American People. It is costing us money as a country and we are paying those bills by adding them to the deficit. But since we don’t raise taxes, we simply add the bills to our our national debt. This is pretty simple arithmetic, folks. The average American is a fool. Everyone knows it. Most won’t say it out loud because they don’t want to be challenged. They are not confident because they don’t have the facts.

Sarah Palin is confident enough to stand up and say that we will have “death” committees, a preposterous, untrue comment. Michelle Bachmann is confident enough to stand up in Congress and say that our Americorps has communist-style “re-education camps.” That is stupid, a lie and anti-American. She is a member of Congress. Either she knows that what she said is true and she is lying or she does not know. Either way, she does not belong in Congress. But the ignoramuses in her part of Minnesota don’t throw her out.

The point of all this is that the people at these meetings making the remarks and comments about the government taking over health care are ignorant jerks. They are jerks because they are simply too lazy to go to the Internet or to read a newspaper where they will find the truth, none of which has been spoken by any of the brain-dead, participants in these town halls.