Three separate videos have now surfaced in which MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber can be heard to say the healthcare was drafted in its present form deliberately to deceive Americans, who — Gruber adds — are “stupid.” After the first video was unearthed, Gruber lied and said he was “speaking off the cuff and … spoke inappropriately.”
Gruber’s credibility notwithstanding, Americans know enough to know when they’ve been insulted, and Republicans on Capitol Hill are now making political hay out of the growing backlash to Gruber’s, and by extension the Obama administration’s, putdown.
A question that no one seems to be asking in the light of this latest kerfuffle over the Affordable Care Act is whether Gruber is right. Are Americans stupid? As noted in passing in this space roughly a year ago, a study, called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, found that adults in the U.S. were on balance dumber than adults elsewhere.
Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test. Beyond basic reading and math, respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.
The test, developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is made up of mostly industrialized member countries, was administered to roughly 166,000 people ages 16 to 65 in more than 20 countries. So how bad was it for your fellow dummies? Read it and weep:
- In terms of literacy, the U.S. average score was 270 out of a possible high score of 500. The nation came in in 13th place among countries tested.
- The average scores in math in the U.S. was 253. The nation lagged behind 18 other countries.
When it came to solving problems in a technology-rich environment, Americans scored toward the bottom, joined by England, Estonia, Ireland, and Poland. At least 10% of adults lacked the most basic of computer skills such as using a mouse.
If the findings seem grim, consider that 51.1% of Americans voted to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012, despite four years of economic stagnation and a $7 trillion increase in the federal debt. On the positive side, an
Economist/YouGov poll conducted after the election found that 71% of voters who had pulled the lever for Obama said they regretted their decision and given a do-over would vote for someone else. We Americans made may be stupid, but clearly we [have] the capacity to learn.
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