shake that cola drag

The office-block persecution affinity.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A few posts back on his blog, Simon talked about how he thought the American century is well and truly over. I agree: it seems to have ended, portentously, on a certain day in 2001. (No, not our wedding day. I know you were thinking that.) Now, via the ever-useful Russell Brown (do I ever actually read anything political without being pointed to it by someone else?), comes this article from the international version of Newsweek. Well, you know, duh. As someone married to an undiagnosed, uninsured diabetic who had a job at which he worked graveyard shifts for no overtime and had to raise his hand to go to the bathroom; as someone who sold blood plasma in Texas for gas money; as someone who got grilled pretty thoroughly and, to me, shockingly by my employers on why I took two days' sick leave; yeah, I could have told you in 2000 that there was something very wrong with healthcare, welfare and employment conditions in the USA in comparison to other western nations. And my (New Zealander) aunt could have told you that in the early 1990s when she tried to unionise her law firm in Washington state. And my (New Zealander) mother - who in Lafayette Louisiana in 1972 greeted the news that she had no days off for Easter with hearty laughter until she realised it wasn't a joke - she's been concerned about this stuff for decades. Brent's uncle has been working at the same company for thirty years and a buyout has meant he now has one week's holiday a year. My cousin has a thyroid condition which means she needs health insurance, but it would cost $700 a month and she and her husband can't afford it, so she's making do with piecemeal medical care. My aunt and uncle are still paying off the hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of hospital care for their son's truck accident over ten years ago. They will die with that debt unpaid.

I know, I know, personal examples do not a defensible argument make. Agreed. And the US has given me so much joy in so many ways that in some sense it seems churlish to be constantly going on and on about this stuff. But that's one tough place to be working class, and there's often just a kind relative between you and begging on the sidewalk for change. The frustrating thing is that barely anyone there knows they live in a deeply problematic place, because they don't have long enough holidays to leave the country, and their media is so insular, and they're all working 98 hours a week...

Besides, it's the greatest country in the world, and anyone can become rich, and anyone can become president, and... yeah. I suppose the question has to be asked: why do I hate freedom? :)

Right, I've finished typing this on my Dell, and I'm off to drink my Coke and watch my sitcoms. 'Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)' Oh, that Walt Whitman and his Americanisms!


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