Sunday, January 25, 2009

Addendum #2

Thanks for your input and comments Asheya and Tonya! Yes, I think Tonya is on to something by pointing out that Canadians are more comfortable with socialism--a democratic socialism, of course! She said,

Basically, I think Canadians are more comfortable with socialism. Right? (Crap, am I opening up another can of worms?) Americans typically are not. I am more than happy to give money to food banks, homeless shelters, etc - more than happy to give to those in need. But, if the gov't continues to raise taxes and ask us to pay more that way, then I have no say over how that money is given or used. Guess I'm just a control freak. :-) One example is that Obama has already lifted the ban on US money going overseas to pay for abortion (including partial birth abortion). Since I'm morally opposed to abortion, I would rather not have my money go there.

and earlier, after my first post, Lori said,

I am all in favor of helping each other out, especially those unable to care for themselves, and of true learning from birth to death. I just don't think those things are governments' responsibility, and when government does get its fingers into five thousand things, it costs way too much money and all face-to-face accountability and interaction is lost. People are no longer accountable to their families, their communities, because they are receiving a check from the nameless, faceless government or their children are being held to the education standards of the nameless, faceless government with little regard to local customs, time tables, preferences, and locally practical subject matter.

And I think both of you make good points. I think what we have is a political philosophical difference here. For example, as a Canadian who lives with lots of nameless, faceless government agencies, I would agree that accountability is our system's greatest weakness. I work for a government agency and I can't tell you how many, many people I have worked alongside who are (a) putting in their time, (b) lazy as shit, (c) feeling entitled, (d) treating people like dirt and getting promoted/retained despite it, or, in rare instances, (e) dangerously incompetant, distracted, or burnt out. I work in a job that has remarkably little accountability which is something that I love for myself personally, but added to the fact that we are a government agency and you have a remarkable lack of accountability. I have often thought this to be our greatest weakness as an Ambulance Service, and have seen that this is true in other government agencies, too. For sure. But I don't think avoiding government is necessarily the answer to this weakness. I believe pretty strongly that if we as people apply some good ingenuity and imagination to the accountability issue, we could solve it within the frame of 'government agency.'
Because for me, who as a Canadian is much more comfortable with socialism and government involvement in my life, the trade off is worth it. No one in my country gets destitute without the hefty weight of addiction to drugs/alcohol pulling them down, and even then there are plenty of government funded programs to help these people out. (the system is far from perfect, but it exists). In the U.S. millions of people in the lower middle classes live without any medical insurance. Thousands more have terrible insurance from horrible companies that deny cancer treatments to people who need them, etc, etc.
Any American with good insurance is better off than any Canadian, who has to line up behind everyone else for middle quality health care in overrun understaffed hospitals. But that's not good enough for me. I would rather line up for middle quality care than have excellent care and live alongside someone in my neighbourhood or the next neighbourhood over who has absolutely no access to health care, or even simply access to Medicaid which is pretty poor quality from what I understand. Of course Americans feel as much compassion as we do for the next guy, it's just that this compassion makes a more socialist structure acceptable to us. I would guess American people would prefer to fix the existing system than pay higher taxes for a national health care system because the price of socialist structure (monetary and otherwise, including lack of accountability, autonomy, choice, or individual say) is too high for them.
Am I on the right track here?
I mean, in Canada, we have a government program for just about everything you can think of. And we tend to look to the government to solve problems, infuse cash, or create safety nets for us when things go wrong. It seems that Americans do a bit more individual planning and pulling up by the bootstraps when things go wrong. And they probably help each other out voluntarily more. Because here, if you have a problem, well you can just go see the agency that addresses that problem. I pay taxes, why should I help more?
Or, for example, if I want to go to University, over 95% of our post secondary education institutions are government subsidized. If I want to go to University, I simply apply and pay a couple thousand dollars a year, and I get an education. But rather than save up for said education, most of us take out student loans and apply for government bursaries, etc. Most Americans save for years for their childrens' or their own University education and thus minimize their dependance on loans. Just a difference of philosophy, which manifests itself in different ways.

I welcome more thoughts!

In other news, Riley woke me up this morning at 4:30 to take an enormous dump. I had to change it because Brent had to get up for work early in the morning, while I would be able to sleep in til about 9. But then Riley woke me up again at 8:00 with another dump.
And then at church he puked, narrowly missing the knee of the guy sitting behind me, whom I barely know. I think I have had enough of the bodily fluids to last me a lifetime, dudes.

1 comment:

Tonya said...

I think you pegged it. :-) Middle of school, so I can't write more! :-)