I am an ex pat member of an informal group of people who live in the United States and regularly share their thoughts on political and social issues. Recently, graphs illustrating the distribution of wealth in the U.S. were circulated among us and my impromtu reply, revised for this posting, is reprinted below.
The views expressed there-in are colored by my having lived in Canada for the past 45 years. With a population of 35 million, Canada provides universal health care and manages its poverty significantly better than does the United States. During the last 10 years, without extra cost to me, I’ve had both hips replaced, laser and ultra sound eye surgery, neurological examinations, CAT and MRI scans and a hernia operation. As a senior, my prescriptions for drugs are free other than one low fee paid yearly and visits to the doctor of my choice are also free of extra charges, including the blood tests and xrays.
One more point. In my article I say, “Everyone I know . .”and “I do not know . . . anyone. . .” These statements are factual if my use of the verb know is accepted as in, I intimately know a friend.
LINK to GRAPHS :
In differing forms I regularly see statistics such as these. I ruminate upon them and always arrive at the same conclusions, primary among them the fact that everyone I know, everyone, is able to live their lives in relative comfort. Those who struggle, rent or own homes, own at least one car, have plenty of food and have access to health coverage. They may need two or more family incomes,need to pinch pennies to make payments and never vacation, they may always dream of having more money, a bit or a lot, but with stereos, radios, TVs , computers, books, education and an inherent curiosity, they maintain a goodly degree of self respect. They believe their lives to be worthwhile and an honest reflection of their values. They are almost uniformally appalled, as am I, by the money grab that has taken place during the last decade.
I do not know or socialize with anyone living in poverty, unable to obtain housing, food or medical care sufficient for health, forced to walk or hitch-hike any distance or forced to wear dirty clothes and who cannot wrench themselves from poverty.
I could know people in this condition, but I’d rather not. As abstractions, they are rather easily dismissed. When they personally confront me, I can give them pocket change if I believe their story or the way they look.
When the French middle class realized they were being financially ruined by an avaricious royalty, they contrived a revolution in which the poorest people of Paris did the fighting. The middle class of today has been and continues to be vandalized by their governors. I wonder what visions of the future they have.
Theodore Roosevelt and the Kennedy’s were the last of a line. Wealthy enough to maintain more than a modicum of independence, they were also educated enough to articulate and energize a nation’s spirit. Their actions brought the United States to life, without rancor or fear. While alive, they kept the Jackals at bay.
When John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, the crimes of Nixon were exposed, when Clinton repealed Glass-Spiegel, when Bush deregulated financial markets and started his war, and when newly elected, Obama appointed a cohort from Wall Street to direct our financial future, my nation began crumblling along with my spirit. To date, neither have recovered.
Today the public’s tolerance for political stupidity and hubris passeth all understanding. Jefferson, Adams and Washington were elitists who naturally evinced an air of culture and noblesse oblige. Their vision was of a nation led by educated gentlemen who understood each other. They did not like the idea of political parties.
Replying to this article, one correspondent wrote, “that is quite an article- it makes you sad – what in the world are we going to do to make it better?”
A good question.
Good luck to all of you and us. – Robin