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Marion On April - 26 - 2010

I have an announcement to make, which might come as a shock to and disappoint a lot of people.

I am not British.

Sorry, but I never have been and never hope to be. Not even if the United States’ electorate were to go completely and totally bonkers and elect Sarah Palin as President with Michelle Bachmann appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

For the record, in my youth, I married an Englishman. These things happen. These things – marrying foreigners – have always happened. Since the United States has been an independent country, we’ve always intermarried with our former colonial owners. We’ve even had an English First Lady. No less than one Adams, John Quincy, son of one of the major Founding Fathers, himself, married an English lass, albeit one who had an American father, and when he won the Presidency, there she was, ensconced at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and lording it over Washingtonian society as the First Lady of the land.

So take that, Jackie Kennedy.

In the late 19th Century, impoverished British aristos came, cap and hand, to the United States, courting the industrial heiresses of the East Coast new monied families. The Vanderbilts craved a title for their daughters and the Dukes of Marlborough, bluebloods of Blenheim, craved more than just a little bit of that tacky new American money to help sustain their chunks of stone and lujo lifestyles.

So when I married and went to live in England almost three decades ago, I wasn’t emigrating, per se. I was simply going to live where my husband lived and worked, and that’s the way it’s remained since then.

It’s not my home. It’s the place where I live and work. It’s the place where I pay exhorbitant taxes.

Lately, in fact, since the election of Barack Obama and the seemingly interminable discussion about healthcare, I’ve read a lot of comments made by a lot of Americans who seem to be giving up the ghost on America in general and looking, languishing and longing to live abroad, more or less because (and this is their reasoning) of the free healthcare.

Honestly, I read that so much I wanted to scream and scalp myself. And if I wasn’t reading that, I was reading about how much cleverer, intelligent and better educated all Europeans are. For everyone who’d ever complained about our President’s perceived apologising and bowing to foreign powers, these wailings were not only butt-clinchingly craven, they were totally ignorant.

Here are a few facts, and they’re not difficult to comprehend:-

1. Healthcare in Europe is not free. It never was. It’s funded through higher taxes. In fact, the French expect to have one-third of their salary witheld in order to pay for their government-funded health insurance, and that health insurance only covers 65% of their total costs, necessitating a hybrid system consisting of a 35% private top-up via employer-related health insurance.

2. Sorry, but sometimes in the UK, which has the Queen Mother of all single-payer systems, healthcare is rationed, depending on how well or how badly your local health authority has managed its government budget.  And your healthcare won’t get you a private room, either, in the event of hospitalisation, or a lengthy consultation with a high-powered specialist physician or surgeon. No Harley Street for you, mate.

So that’s the healthcare debate in a nutshell. Let’s look at some other myths, shall we?

For years, I’ve listened to Bill Maher go on at length about the stupidity of Americans. I know what he means. A lot of other people do also, but it doesn’t mean that those of us who “get” Bill have to nod our heads like the dogs adorning the parcel shelves in the back of our cars and agree mindlessly.

“Yes, Bill, we’re stupid.”

“That Bill! He nails it every time. We sure are stupid.”

“Bill Maher’s right. We’re a nation of morons.”

“Yes. Bill’s got it. We’re stupid. Hyuck, hyuck.”

First of all, when Bill Maher makes a remark like that, he’s including himself. He has to be, simply because he carries an American passport. It’s meant as a wake-up call, a piece of reverse psychology. He wants us to look at ourselves and better ourselves intellectually, to understand and question and not accept blindly.

Secondly, stupidity doesn’t recognise geographical borders. There are stupid people the world over. Take a stroll with me through happy-clappy Europe, and I’ll show you stupid in four different languages.

And the equivalent of rednecks and lowlifes. The Josef Frizls of the world in Austria, who keep their daughters barefoot, pregnant and in the cellar as sex slaves to their own depravities. The slack-jawed slut of a mother of Baby P in London, no less, who made her beautiful son’s 18-months of life a living hell and still hopes to be released from prison to live with her partner in crime. The mother of Shannon Matthews, who “arranged” for he brother to kidnap the child and keep her drugged, hoping to mount a national search and reap a five-figure reward for finding the child. That happened in the industrial North of England. The McCanns, a husband-and-wife medical team, who left their three toddler children alone sans babysitters in a Portuguese resort. Whilst they revelled, “someone” kidnapped the oldest child, who hasn’t been seen to this day.

Pretty stupid, right?

And trivialities too. In Britain, the golden boy of the moment, Nick Clegg, acquired the nickname “LegOver Clegg” when – in a vain attempt to portray himself as au courant with the misogynistic lads’ pub-and-pull culture that’s rampant in Britain now, boasted in an on-air television interview to having slept with at least 30 women before marrying his wife. As if that were relevant. In Britain, obviously, it is.

Or Nicolas Sarkozy, who, within a couple of months of his second wife leaving him, stood before the magistrates’ marital altar about to marry a woman who’s chief claim to fame in Europe is that she’s a veritable continental mattress, who always goes to the highest bidder, and that she’s lining up a suitable successor when, next year, the little President is defeated at the polls, because it isn’t in Carla Bruni’s agenda to retire to the Parisian banlieux as bourgeois Mme Sarkozy – not after having graced the arms of Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and having culminated her horizontal career as Mme la Presidente. Rumour has it that Woody Allen’s interested in reviving whatever film career she once hoped to have. We’ll see.

There’s a General Election coming up in the UK on May 6th, with each of the three major political parties here claiming “Change you can believe in.” Sound familiar? The third party perennial bridesmaid Liberal Democrats, who are neither particularly liberal nor Democratic, are heralding an amnesty on all illegal immigrants (of which there are many in the UK) and a closer relationship within the bosom of the European Union – which, for many British, means a ceding of sovereignty to the Brussels gravytrain, and economic subservience to the old enemies of Germany and France. Mr LegOver preaches to the the inspired youngsters, desperate for an Obama of their own, by saying that “the young ‘get’ Europe” in a way the old don’t.

Yes, they do. They “get” the fact that Europe is a place of sandy-beached holiday resorts with thumping, throbbing clublife, 24-hour drinking and sex on the beach with strangers, cheap booze and cheaper accommodation, so that when they return after the requisite two weeks of sun, sand and sex, they can high-ass it to the local clinic for treatment of a nasty rash or smelly discharge in an unmentionable area.

If there’s an immigration problem in Europe, there are other problems too – like alcoholism in the UK or cocaine abuse in Italy. Like racism.

Racism’s there too.

A Norwegian blogger on HuffPo begs and pleads for Americans to keep their Tea Party ambassadors away from the Right Wing of his country. A British woman with a Russian name who lives in Switzerland rounds on me on a Facebook page and spews venom about the fact that Britain is ruined culturally because of its increased Americanisation.

“The Britain I see now,” she cries, “is nothing like the Britain where I grew up 40 or 50 years ago.”

Wow, to me that says only one thing … the Britain of 40 or 50 years ago was white. The Britain she sees and deplores today is a haven of multiculturalism and a myriad of colours. And that’s America’s fault, of  course.

So she sits safely watching from afar in homogenous Switzerland, tax haven of the wealthy, who’s just passed national legislation prohibiting the building of mosques by their newly-arrived and ensconced Muslim community, which reinforces Mr Liberal Finnish Blogger’s plea.

It’s a poorly disguised secret that an undercurrent of racism is rearing its ugly head (like Putin before Palin’s gaze) in Scandinavia, due primarily to the fact that they now have a tranche of immigrant society which isn’t blonde-haired, blue-eyed and fair-skinned. It was the Danish, who were responsible for the Mohammed cartoon fiasco, and that was as much a racist connotation as a religious one.

Having lived this side of the Pond for nigh on three decades, I’ve grown accustomed to hearing older societies bleat on and on about hopeless American racism and pointing to their own perceived tolerance as evidence of their moral high ground.

Then, suddenly, America elects Barack Obama, and the cognitive dissonance leaves the Euros speechless.  They’re suddenly all so desperate to be Barack’s new BFF or frantically searching for one amongst their number to approximate their own great white hope of an Obamawanabee, that they’ve neglected to address the incipient racism within their own borders – the illegal immigrant question washed daily up on their beaches or stowed away in the bowels of tractor-trailer trucks or in the undercarriages of high speed trains, the legal economic immigrants who head West as far as they can legally go and who are welcomed with open arms by businessmen who’ll pay them a fraction of the wages indigenous people demand. Add that to the ingredient of a working-class element who feels increasingly disenfranchised by all the major political parties within a country, and chances are someone with a pejorative motive will step from the shadows, mouthing platitudes these people are longing to hear, with assurances that the speaker feels their pain and is listening. What’s happening in the States now with the ridiculous Teabaggers got its start in a more inauspicious and down-played way some years ago in Britain when the old skinhead National Front got booted and suited up by a prep school-educated Cambridge grad and turned into the British National Party – but fascists they are, and fascists they remain, even though their followers are the children and grandchildren of the very people who fought against that ethos. And their driving force is racism.

So, spare me the tales of woe about wanting to move to Europe and its happy-clappy socialism. It’s not happy or clappy and it’s NOT socialism.

Categories: News & Politics

88 Responses so far.

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  1. Kalima says:

    Dear Marion,

    I might have become a little over sensitive, I’m really sorry. For me England was a second home, I did battle there, I licked many wounds, I found a place, I lost myself, life went on.

    What you are seeing now is not the place I know, forgive me if I charge, I’m just a bull.. :)

    • Marion says:

      First, he is dead. Second, I think you’d be quite horrifically surprised at the number of Brits of Afro-Carribbean and Hindu descent who voted BNP the last time; and yesterday’s Guardian did a wonderful article detailing how “hideously” white and homogenous this election campaign was this time around. Another shocker was that the Conservative party was the party fielding the most candidates of ethnic diversity this time around. The ethnic minorities are flocking to the Tories because they feel that Labour and the LibDems have abandoned the traditional working classes and are literally in a culture war against what they perceive to be family values.

      The article was written by a British woman of Afro-Carribbean descent. It began by telling a true tale of her cousin, who is biracial, attending an invitations-only fund-raiser for Nick Clegg, the LibDem leader. She was the only person of colour there. When the host introduced her to Clegg, he asked her “where she came from”. She told him, quite rightly, she was English. He selectively didn’t hear or wasn’t listening, because he asked her if “she came here as a student” and if she “liked it here.” And THIS is the PROGRESSIVE choice for the UK? Give. Me. A. Break.

      The one thing the ethnic minorities and working class voters are saying about Cameron is that he put himself about AMONGST the voters, went into the rough sections and areas and actually spoke with and challenged the people who gave him a hard time. The one thing, however, they distrust about him is George Osborne, and I don’t blame them for that.

  2. Questinia says:

    Vigorously acerbic and amusing, however I think you may not have been in the States recently enough to see how dire the situation has become re HC.

    The body of your piece essentially describes people in all their dissipated states of the European variety. It’s humanity. I’m not sure what that has to do with HC per se, but I can tell you, you’d be hard pressed to find people living in their cars because of exorbitant medical bills. These people are not louche ravers living on the Canary Islands.

    I’ve lived in Stockholm, Sweden and the quality of life is good albeit somewhat shoe-horned into a Byzantine HC system. Systems dealing with critical services such as HC, most likely the most critical since life is all we got, are going to be messy. As messy as all the people you’ve described. At least, for some time to come.

    • Kalima says:

      Well said Q, just look at the continent of Africa, to see the hate and prejudice there, the killing is never ending. Tribes killing each other because they believe they are superior or the caste divisions in India, prejudice is world wide, we just don’t notice it because we don’t live there.

  3. Khirad says:

    Just in case any of you never heard of Enoch Powell. His xenophobic racism matches American sentiments now quite well:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivers_of_blood

    He is like a prophet to the BNP.

  4. KQ says:

    I would have to say your criticism of the British healthcare system is harsh and decidedly depends on your perspective. For one thing it’s not single payer it is a socialized system. That said I have said many times the British NHS or even the Canadian single payer model would not be the best first move because universal healthcare systems have to fit the culture of the country. I don’t know were you get the idea that the US hospitals have all private rooms since few do these days even my hospital in an upscale suburb. I’ve stayed in private rooms when I had insurance and not so much when I lost my insurance. You are covered when you get ill in GB and you won’t go bankrupt if you do get medical care. I and millions of other uninsured cannot say that so that in the US. Sure it cost everyone for healthcare and costs are going up everywhere for healthcare. But relative to what we pay in the US it’s still much much lower. The average Europeans pay for care is less than half what the US does.

    I get your vent I do, especially your venting about growing xenophobia in GB and the rest of Europe but I just wanted to put some things in perspective regarding healthcare.

    • Khirad says:

      And for the record, the ‘it’s free’ comments came more from trolls, in my time on the HCR boards.

      • KQ says:

        Absolutely. Healthcare is a basic human right and Constitutional right. Joint security is a Constitutional right but everyone has to pay taxes to pay for Federal, State and Local authorities to give us that security.

        But like you said with Repugs little rationalizing brains they think when a liberal says healthcare is a right we expect not to pay for it.

        • Kalima says:

          Just pay a little more tax and stop complaining, we all do. Not perfect but better than nothing, right K?

          • KQ says:

            Absolutely you get what you pay for and in the US we have a paltry safety net. That’s one of the big reasons Europe did not need to make as many drastic moves when the great recession hit. The only problem with the NHS is the English tax base is degrading so they have less money to fund it.

            As far as out of pocket spending going up it’s all relative again. I doubt many Brits would want to pay what we do in the US in out of pocket expenses.

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            • Marion says:

              Have you lived for any length of time in the UK and experienced their healthcare? Until you have, you have no right to question my experience of it. And, for the record, it IS single-payer. We pay through a separate tax taken from our wages and labelled EXCLUSIVELY as “National Insurance Contribution.” EVERYONE pays their “stamp.” Whether or not you use the facility is up to you. People like Prince Charles or Alan Sugar, obviously don’t, unless an emergency occurs, such as recently when Camilla broke her leg. Otherwise, their contribution goes to fund everyone else -- and there are a great many people who take advantage of benefits when they are obviously milking the system. THAT’S why the UK is the target country for many immigrants, both illegal and from the European Economic Community: the benefits are ueber-generous. Here, if you know how to play the system, it’s money for nothing and the chicks for free. No. No one goes bankrupt for want of healthcare, but explain to me WHY the UK has the highest incident of deaths from breast cancer and prostate cancer in the Western World? People don’t go bankrupt, but people die from lack of or substandard treatment. Here. Under single-payer or socialised medicine or whatever you want to call it. And THAT’S a fact. And, by the way, take a trip through some hospitals in some areas of either London or the provinces, especially during flu epidemics. They’re like third world countries. Or go to some geriatric wards. Those will make you positively puke, the treatment (not) meted out to the elderly.

            • Kalima says:

              Did you ever read my comments Marion or just find me like a fart?
              My father now 88, WW2, Nornandy, D day, and all that if you ever read of what I wrote, a veteran, German pension too, is being treated like the Prince. His fucking English healhcare is great, how can I knock on this door?

  5. Khirad says:

    I have soooooo much to write on this, but, alas, I am busy on vacation, currently in Virginia. Sadly, the historical sites are nowhere near as fun as you made Europe sound :lol:.

    In any case, it would only be to add my own comments on several of the points raised. And as Kalima can attest, I’m desperate to talk British politics, but have been missing a lot (though I loved the bit on Cleggmania).

  6. KQ says:

    Marion another inspired piece.

    I think part of what you are talking about by criticizing Anglo and Euro culture and Americans criticizing American culture has a little to do with human nature. We all grow to be hardest on the culture we encounter the most because humans just always think someone elses society has to be better.

    I would argue many times with folks from Europe that predominantly white countries would never ever vote for a non-white European minority to be their leader like the US has. In that way are thinking is far more progressive than most nations. Xenophobia in Western Europe is bad enough but in Eastern Europe the hate is off scale. People don’t realize that half the skinheads in the world live in Russia or Poland.

    • Khirad says:

      But of course, KQ. My thoughts exactly.

    • Kalima says:

      You have just said it and it’s true. I remember living in London, it was so mixed but for some reason the word “-aki” was a current word, I never understood the hate, what was it, what is it, it still exists.

      • escribacat says:

        What I remember from all the time I’ve spent in London (including a year living there) was “Bloody Paki’s. I recall working in the London office of my company and watching my colleague go through resumes for a position we had open. “Paki, Paki, Paki…” and into the bin. It was stunning.

      • Khirad says:

        And the especially consternating thing is that you can never tell if they are ignorant or just pretending to be when calling an Indian (or any Muslim) such. It’s one of those mistaken pejoratives, like ‘hun’ that came to include all South Asians and ‘other’ brown people.

    • Marion says:

      Not only are they racists, they are virulent homophobes.

      • KQ says:

        Absolutely in some ways Eastern Europe is like the Southern US. Behind the rest of Europe, more xenophobic, more homophobic, a few countries are more religious, higher murder rates, etc…

  7. Kalima says:

    “And now for something completely different” I have to sleep. Good night America!

    There really is no Utopia, it depends on what you need or want.

  8. TheRarestPatriot says:

    Marion, you’re right to point out the facts that you live with everyday and share them with all of us. Sometimes we all get so overwhelmed with the machinations of our political shortcomings that we get to a point of looking for a better solution to social problems. None of us have an answer that solves the issues of healthcare, racism and inequality. Yet, we sure wish we did. It becomes apparent to us older folks at one point in our lives that these issues are so great in scope and complexity that we throw our collective hands up in frustration and defeat and start figuring ways to just survive and make it into our golden years. We leave the protesting and youthful fighting spirit to the pre-cynical generations that will come after us. We begin to become nostalgic for a ‘notion’ of the way things ought to be and yes, we fall romantically in lust with the fantasy of our perception of Europe and its culture. Anyone that has ever visited Europe or does any research knows that it isn’t what even Europeans want it to be, let alone what WE believe it to be. I believe it’s a collective ‘notion’ of what we all WANT the world to become and how we wanted our governments to take care of us and our country’s issues.
    I have flirted with the idea of moving to Europe and found out I was no more wanted there than here. There is no panacea. No Utopia. Only what we make of our time here on earth as best we can with what we have…
    People here want to be taken care of, yet, scream about the taxes they’d have to pay to have it. They rail against big government and massive ‘socialistic’ spending programs, yet many of them are on Medicaid or other government programs. Stupidity knows no bounds or borders to be sure. Tea Baggers want THEIR country back, they claim. What they’re saying is “I want my lily-white society back from the 1950s where I could feel comfortable and justified in my superiority complex over all other races.” It really does all boil down to that. IMO.
    No country has a Utopian plan for all. Someone has to suffer to remind us all how totally barbaric our species is. Romancing the globe is fun to imagine, yet it’s an endeavor borne from fantasy. We all want what we want and no one will ever have it all.

    • KQ says:

      Well said RP. There will never be a Utopian society because any system relies on very imperfect beings to govern society.

      Tea Baggers want THEIR country back, they claim. What they

      • TheRarestPatriot says:

        LMAO…1850s….No doubt…Spot on…

        ” So, to-night I’m gonna party like it’s 18-99!..WOOO~”

        Indeed…

        • KQ says:

          One things like immigration W is even far left of these xenophobic Republicans. It almost makes me pine for the days of they extinct breed of moderate Republicans. Raygun was more radical relative to his day but today he would be a prime target for “Club for Growth” right wingers. Hell the first Bush would probably be a conservadem today.

    • Kalima says:

      TRP, didn’t you say your roots are Scottish, I would think that you might have a little more pride. Until quite recently, Scotland was a part of Britain.

      “an island that consists of England, Wales, and Scotland and includes the small adjacent islands. The name is broadly synonymous with Great Britain, but the longer form is more usual for the political unit. See also Great Britain.”

      • TheRarestPatriot says:

        My lineage is English and Irish. Maybe I could have expressed my ‘pride’ a little better, yet I think it all boils down to what one has pride IN. And I still feel a ‘pull’ to Europe for some reason…I’m a born wanderer that loves history and discovery.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Rarest-- you said it better than I could, and your comments were basically what I was thinking.

      I would only add that despite the obvious truth that Europeans and Brits in particular are no better or smarter than we, they have still managed to provide NHC. We haven’t. They still have affordable higher education, and we are regressing on that.

      They have humane social safety nets and we don’t. They may not be smarter, but they sure seem wiser--at least on that score.

      • TheRarestPatriot says:

        Agreed. And I did forget to mention one other observation and one other comment.

        I think most Americans attach a certain level of ‘sophistication’ to Brits. Whether it’s the accent or the stiff upper lip idea and, of course, the pageantry of the Royals from 1000yrs ago until today. We think all Brits are smarter than us and elitists because of the way they speak. I used to laugh that a Brit that failed grammar school and sharpened pencils for a living sounds like a nuclear physicist, yet a nuclear physicist from North Carolina with a hillbilly accent sounded like an idiot….LOL

        I also heard this a few years back that really makes you think:

        To the English, a 100 miles is a LONG way and Americans believe a 100yrs is a LONG time…

        It’s all perspective…

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Great comment about the 100’s!

          When I was kid, I used to think other little kids were smarter because they spoke, say, French--even if they WERE French! And I think you are right about that-- we think anyone with a British accent is cultured-- except Liverpudlians! :-)

          • Mightywoof says:

            You have something against Liverpudlians, Cher :)

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Not at all, Mighty! Why, the best band ever was comprised of Liverpool lads!

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Marion:

              Heh! Yeah, I am familiar with many British accents and the unbelievably prejudiced but totally ubiquitous British habit of judging people on the basis of their accent. But when I think about my past prejudices when I hear a certain type of Southern accent and grammar, I can’t really throw the first stone.

              Marion, it is indeed troubling that the costs of health care in some European counties are forcing cutbacks. I don’t know what can be done to cut the costs of medical care, but from my POV I am pretty tired of the cuts coming to patient care and not entail cost controls.

              I would gladly pay extra taxes to ensure that all Americans could get basic medical care, so I am unsympathetic to those who bemoan their tax burdens.

              I am sure you have problems and justified complaints about National Health, but seriously, from where I am sitting it is indeed a Magical Mystery Tour.

              I believe it is a human right, and therefore a necessity and the obligation of governments to their citizens-- every bit as important as national security, of which I believe it to be a part.

            • Marion says:

              They were posh Liverpudlians. Look up Stephen Gerrard on YouTube and see if you can understand his Liverpudlian accent, as opposed to the grammar school cadence of Paul McCartney. With the exception of Ringo, all the Beatles were grammar school boys, schooled for university, had not fortune intervened. In fact, Lennon was at art school.

              So you think John Oliver on The Daily Show sounds posh? He’s not. He doesn’t even speak received English. He’s got a whiney South London accent. The only thing he’s done since coming to America is bone up on his enunciation a bit so he doesn’t confuse his “ths” with “fs”, saying “fough'” for “thought”.

              People go on about the magical mystical healthcare that Europeans receive. Most of those programs are running at a loss and one of the reasons that a lot of governments are in a financial pickle. France has cut the state-funder part of its healthcover from 80% to 65%, which means -- guess what? -- the private insurers gain a bit more business and contribution through company group rates. Germany’s, The Netherlands’s and Belgium’s healthcare system is closely akin to Obamacare, with no public option, and no one’s complaining because they have to buy insurance -- and those systems are doing the best. Europe’s in a pretty precarious situation right now, and if Greece really tanks it, it could take the Euro with it, and then everyone on the continent with a healthplan that includes a public option will be up the Swanee without a paddle.

    • Marion says:

      Does the report happen to mention that those people stopped and searched are either black or Asian? Because they are. And, the short and truthful answer is that the only people who object to this are the people who are stopped and searched -- in other words, the blacks and Asians.

      The white people -- and I’m sorry to say this, but it’s true -- couldn’t give a rat’s ass, as long as they’re not stopped and searched. Most of the police forces here are institutionally racist and white by make-up. That is a fact. Look at Gordon Brown’s Cabinet. Sure, there are Asian and black MPs, all of whom are in the Labour Party, but none near the portals of Number 10. Look at the Tory MPs and Shadow Cabinet … white. Look at the LibDems … lily white.

      Anyone who tells you that there are no racists in Europe and that the Europeans are more tolerant than we are is a liar. The further East and South you go, the more open the racism is.

    • Mightywoof says:

      One thing I’ve always found odd about all these new police anti-terrorism powers in the UK is that, back in the days of IRA terrorism, they didn’t have these powers and, now, they do ……… makes ya think!!

  9. kesmarn says:

    Recognizing that I’m operating from a position that’s rooted more in emotion than in logic, I have to say that I wince when I hear:
    “Look to Europe to see your alternatives, America. There they are: taxed to death, forced to absorb millions of immigrants, and given shoddy, rationed health care.” Because what usually follows that assessment here in America is: “This is what the Obama administration wants for you! Vote Republican!”

    I realize you’re not saying that, Marion, but I guess I have a knee jerk reaction that’s something akin to: “Please don’t give aid and comfort to the enemy.” I know, I know…maybe not sensible, but there it is. I haven’t lived in the UK or Europe, so maybe things there are much worse than I imagine them. But when I look at the way we’ve dealt (or failed to deal with) things here, the emotion that comes to the forefront is not exactly smugness, either.

    Sigh. I guess Utopia isn’t just around the corner anywhere as of April, 2010.

    • KQ says:

      I know what you are saying Kes that line made me cringe too. There is some truth to it though. The problem is with our relative tax burden we have little right to complain about our taxes in comparison to Europe’s. But we get what we pay for with that too.

      As far as “rationing” it’s a loaded word but there are some delays Americans are not use to seeing WHO HAVE INSURANCE in other universal healthcare systems. But it does not equal the rationing that this country has with tens of millions uninsured until HCR starts.

      That’s why I argued getting to universal coverage was always the first goal. Because how insurance is delivered varies greatly and for some countries almost all private delivery works like the Netherlands and Switzerland and mostly public systems in Scandinavia work well for them.

      • KQ says:

        Our HC system will be very close to Switzerland’s system, only with government subsidies. Like the Swiss our country is over obsessed with private business being the answer. But you cannot say the bill does not reflect the American culture as it stand now. The point is our culture needs to be shifted to the center left where it was before.

      • kesmarn says:

        Hi back to you, BT! Our Prez is a genuine original (while at the same time being able to synthesize) in so many ways. I find I’m usually a step behind him and then, later, have that “Ah-hah” moment.

        (Have to head out for a while now. Hope to be back later!)

    • Kalima says:

      kesmarn, it’s not that bad, I have family there to prove it. They are well and survive even, how about that?

      Maybe Marion just needs to come home?

      • kesmarn says:

        Kalima, it’s good to hear that your family is doing well in Europe. I have friends who’ve visited recently and they say there seems to be a greater sense of security there…

        • Marion says:

          I’ll be perfectly honest, and I used to be an Anglophile. I’ve no great love for the British. I find them petty, egocentric, and still hankering for the Empire they lost. Say what you will about certain elements of the South pining for the Confederacy, most of Britain pines for the days of Colonel Blimp, if not for 1966. People have hated the Germans for 3 generations and the French for 12. Whilst I actually love the Continent -- in particular, Spain and Italy and their people -- the British could, quite honestly, go to hell in a handcart and I wouldn’t blink twice.

          They’ve honed the art of political correctness to a T, but there’s one ethnic demographic here that’s been fair game since Day One: the American expat community. I can’t count how many times I’ve had people marvel at the fact that I’m American and intelligent, that I can string a sentence together in other languages when they can barely do it in one. I must have been educated in Europe, because I’m certainly an exception to the rule as far as the many Americans they’ve never known. And for years, the American community took that shit -- hook, line and sinker. And turned the other cheek. Insult any other nationality in the UK -- the Irish, the Germans, the French (and it’s been done) -- and the perp is hauled off to High Court and fined.

          As far as the healthcare system is concerned, in my opinion the NHS is nothing that it’s cracked up to be. Regardless of who stands on the doorstep of Number 10 on the 7th of May, 15% of its services are going to be cut and our individual contributions are going to be increased. That Europe, in the form of France, has the best health service in the world for its cost and its services rendered, is wonderful. I’ve experienced the French healthcare system, and I think it would have been an easy and viable model for the United States to have followed; but to even convince the British that that’s the way to go is like herding cats.

          Do I need to come home? Maybe I do. And I would, in a New York minute, but I think I’m more than fair in saying that anyone anyplace in Europe has no right to take the moral high ground over the US, nor we over Europe, in certain matters moral.

        • Kalima says:

          I don’t really like this subject, Americans are confused, we are ok, we are more than ok, we laugh a lot.

  10. dildenusa says:

    So should I count my blessings? There but for the grace of God? And let’s put things in a nutshell. The smallest nutshell we can find. The God nutshell.

    Here in the US a very large majority of people believe God is a hairy old man who lives in the sky and if you are suffering it’s your own fault because God is testing you. Please. Even if he is in the sky, God doesn’t care anymore. And I’m suffering because I have a degenerative disease.

    So in just about every other advanced industrialized nation, God is just a metaphor. Because they understand what suffering is. Here in the US tea bag partiers think they are suffering because they have to pay taxes. Please. I want to tell people like that to go to a computer or a dictionary and search for the word suffering. Well, they won’t because it means they might have to learn something new.

    • AdLib says:

      Well said, dildenusa and sorry about your health condition.

      Adding to your Tebaggers’ lack of empathy for others, their alternative to HCR is bartering with chickens or depending…ready?…on the church to help you out.

      Yes, if you need chemo, a new hip or heart surgery, they want you to go beg for it. And if you don’t belong to or believe in a religion, you better move to Europe.

    • Kalima says:

      Hear, hear dildenusa!

  11. AdLib says:

    Wonderful to have your perspective here to ground discussions about Europe in reality.

    It is just as silly for Progressives to envision a utopia in Europe as it is for Teabaggers to envision a utopia in America if Republicans were in power and the wealthy were “treated better”. By a white president.

    I find it most sensible to acknowledge that there are positives and negatives on both sides of the fence.

    There are those in Europe who are elitists and look down their noses at America while being in denial about their own country’s failings or problems.

    On the other hand, there are many in Europe who are quite justified in seeing many Americans as small-minded, over-religious fanatics. Only in America, a system that declares a separation of church and state, is it mandatory for presidential nominees to repeatedly declare how religious they are. What would be the odds of a President getting elected nowadays who refused to talk about his religious beliefs, let alone one who was an atheist?

    Aside from the nature of Christianity being inextricably entangled with our presidential elections, there is the issue of aggressive racism. The U.S. has been continuing a “Cold Civil War”, racism continues to reside in this nation and is still deeply entrenched in the South.

    We’ve seen the Baggers spewing their racism, Governors thumping the glory of the Confederacy and touting Secession, not to mention the many Republicans in elected office questioning the legitimacy of this black man to be president.

    That said, prejudice resides in Europe but in a way that seems less aggressive though still pervasive.

    I find most countries in Europe very provincial, for centuries, each nation maintained pretty homogeneous populations. It is only in the most recent century that they have had to face the disruption of that homogeneity.

    As with the U.S., I believe that most citizens of most nations are fair minded people who are not prejudiced in hostile ways. There are those types and there are mostly reasonable people into whom some subtle prejudices have snuck their way in, undetected by them.

    For example, in the U.S., there are good-hearted Christians who don’t hate anyone else but may still have accepted the dogma they’ve been taught since childhood that all Jews are responsible for the death of Christ and that they should be supportive of Jews so they help fulfill the actions required for Jesus to return and The Rapture to come…then not be concerned as they all go to hell as they must.

    In the UK, there are prejudices against minorities who have come from other countries, many of which the nation obliviously made citizens when they were imperialistic. Little did they consider that when you conquer a country and make it part of your empire, you make the brown and black people who live there citizens under your government. And one day, they may want to move.

    Add to that the prejudice in the UK when it comes to others who are native to the UK, such as the Irish.

    At the same time, IMO, the majority in the UK are far more liberal and open minded than people in the US on many fronts including human rights, peace and religion.

    Move to France and recall the Muslim riots several years ago. France has been perhaps the most aggressive European nation about “preserving its culture”.

    I love French culture and hope it continues endlessly but the argument to preserve it has also been a cloak under which to hide racism. A big segment of Muslims in France refuse to adopt French Culture and have willingly congregated together in where they live. Meanwhile, some in French society resent Muslims for that reason and eschew them. So, there is a kind of Muslim ghettoism in France and Muslims have been oppressed and harassed there.

    This is a two way street though, there is prejudice by some Muslims against those of other cultures and religions and an unwillingness to acclimate to one’s new society is not a formula for seeking harmony.

    Add to that, the experience many Americans have had with waiters in Paris and one can conclusively say that prejudice is alive and well in France too.

    As with the UK though, I do like France very much and the majority of people I’ve personally met there have been kind and friendly.

    So, we could go country by country, disassembling the fallacy some have that Europeans are superior to Americans.

    After all, only America has overcome racial and provincial barriers to elect an African American as their leader. But that doesn’t make America or Americans “better”.

    There are trade offs with each nation. But I’d happily trade our Teabaggers for some Brit humor or French chefs any day.

    • Mightywoof says:

      I left the UK close to 39 years ago and, apart from 3 vacations to see family, I have never gone back. Several things I think should be remembered although maybe Marion would disagree with me as her knowledge is certainly more up to date than mine.

      The first is that Europe is OLD -- they have histories (white histories) that go back beyond written records; they have a view of themselves, still, as coming from that ancient world while we, in NA are still making our history and, as we are an immigrant society, it is far easier for us to absorb different cultures than it is for Europeans (I’m not going into the ‘native cultures were here first’ -- they were, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make). They have a distinct view of themselves as English, Scottish, French, German etc -- white-skinned all of them although the hair and eye colour may vary. They now have an influx of different cultures and races and it’s hard for them to look around and see and know what they are any more. I think ‘influx’ is the key word here -- the ability of refugees (political or economic) to get from the Middle East or Asia or Africa to Europe is so easy compared to those same refugees trying to get to North America.

      Second, with respect to Britain, it is a very tiny country. It is a little over 96 thousand square miles and has a population estimated to get to a smidge over 62 million this year; it’s density is just short of 660 people per square mile . To put that into perspective, the density in the US is 83 people pre square mile and in Canada it’s 8 people per square mile. I don’t condone the racism but, like most unthinking, angry reactions, they blame what they can see for an overcrowded country and they see immigration gone mad, they see non-white faces and burkas and hijabs. The last time I landed at Heathrow was 1991 and I almost had a panic attack at the sheer number of people just in the airport. I think the UK, in particular, needs some serious birth control programmes (and that wasn’t entirely tongue in cheek).

      Lastly, although this is an exhaustive subject, I believe that because they have never considered themselves to be immigrant societies they’ve never seriously tackled how to integrate immigrants/refugees into society. Why Can’t They Be Just Like Us Rather Than Going Around Wearing Their Burkas/Turbans/Beards/Kirpans -- there seems to have been no effort to create a different, inclusive society while still remaining British, French, Italian. ‘This is France’ goes the cry -- so they ban the wearing of the burka. ‘This is Switzerland’ -- so they ban the building of minarets. And all across Europe (and I include Britain) the non-white faces have been ghetto-ized and blamed for that ghetto-ization. The fact that all new immigrants have a tendency to do this when they arrive in a new country is either forgotten, ignored or just not known; the second generation in NA usually moves away from ethnic neighbourhoods (at least in Canada they do) -- has that happened in Europe? I don’t know, perhaps Marion does.

      • Kalima says:

        Yes and no Mightywoof. Many years ago in Germany, my best friend’s mother was Indian. My friend’s name was Jutta, she had the best hair in my school, I envied her, not just her hair, she was beautiful too.

        We never thought we were better, that’s so wrong.

        • Mightywoof says:

          I’m not sure when, in time, you grew up in the UK Kalima -- I was a child in the 50’s and a teen in the 60’s. I think racism, in the form of a sense of superiority, just for being British, was always there but it was in most cases very polite -- ‘those people’ were expected to know their place. You and I and probably a whole swath of the population were raised differently -- and to be fair, when I was growing up in the UK, I don’t think I ever saw more than a couple of non-white faces, so I can’t honestly say my prejudices or lack thereof were ever put to the test.

          I just love living in Canada -- especially next door to TO. Just on my street in upscale suburbia there are Maltese, Slavs, Swiss, Jamaicans, Chinese, Japanese and a couple from the Middle-East -- it’s such a vibrant place to be. It’s not Utopia and there IS racism but, on the whole, it’s a pretty multi-cultural place to be.

          • Kalima says:

            Yes that is how I grew up Mightywoof, just like you.
            60’s and 70’s and the Beatles. “All you need is Love” for you and people like us.


            • Mightywoof says:

              *sigh* -- now I’m feeling nostalgic, Kalima -- for the days when I was young and can never have again in the Britain that will never ‘be’ again :(

            • Kalima says:

              Sorry Mw, me too. I didn’t mean to make you sad, I’m so just so awfully homesick for how it was.

              London was a blast, we lived first in Shepherd’s Bush, moved to a place not far from Portobello Rd, ended up in Brixton. Do you know Brixton, we were married there. Living there, in London I mean, was the best time of my life. That is the England I know.

          • choicelady says:

            MTW -- that has certainly been my experience in Canada, though they have an OLD legacy of anti-Asian and anti-
            aboriginal (their term) biases. They just never rose to the manifest awfulness of the US. I was in Ottawa in 1974 when the first overt demand for restitution was made by native Canadians -- Richard Cardinal, the leader, had his room next to mine. I will never forget his awesome presence! From then on, Canada has made HUGE gains as a nation of multi-racial, multi-ethnic existence. I love it, them, and might well think about retiring there. Love Obama, but am finding the persistence of hate just more than I can handle. I’ve been fighting it since I was 12 years old, and enough already. I’m ready for a little peace. Can I move next door? At least on your block? I’m pretty quiet and don’t make a mess.

            • Mightywoof says:

              There still is an undercurrent of racism in Canada and I think it’s more prevalent in the police forces especially the further west you go. There was an incident a year or more back where some police force (gosh, I wish I could remember when and where exactly) picked up a native Canadian who, they say, was drunk, and deposited him outside city limits -- in the middle of winter!! The poor man froze to death and there was one helluva hue and cry about it. But it’s getting better and I live in hope that the official ‘dignity’ the native tribes have gotten will become a reality in their daily lives. Speaking of which -- did you ever see the official ceremony in the House of Commons where the whole Parliament apologised for past treatment of native peoples? It was awesome!! I think maybe Khirad posted it somewhere on the Planet.

              Hey -- I’d love to have you as a neighbour -- I’d be waiting out on the street with a big brass band :)

  12. PepeLepew says:

    There are stupid people in Canada, too.



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