“The Greatest Country on Earth”. How’s that?
Pretty much only people who have spent their entire lives inside the borders and people in the wealthiest ten percent say that.
My reasons for loving America are the sports culture, entertainment industry, food, folkways characterized by gregariousness, and all the individual people who have made me who I am today. I am in love with so much of America that it pains me to feel the way I do about American society.
When you hear something like free (or even debt-free) college education or universal health care, and you think, “That’s all well and good, but it’s just not plausible,” you really mean, “Can’t happen in America.”
Go ahead and imagine a kid somewhere in the US who forgoes medical treatment for a minor injury or a nagging illness. Plausible? Damn right it is because I did it for three years from 2012 to 2015.
Go ahead and imagine a kid spending all of her disposable income (and even some indispensable income) on student loan repayment. Plausible? If you think not, stop reading now.
Now go ahead and imagine higher education as the cause of thousands (millions) of Americans not going to the doctor for things like muscle pain, bronchitis, or mental goddamn illness. Plausible? No shit.
Now, imagine a country where college is free. Plausible? Yes. They exist.
Now, imagine a country where everyone has health insurance and health care costs are low. Plausible? You bet your ass. I write to you from one of them.
NOW… imagine a country where both of those are true (in other words, two of the shittiest elements of American life are not on the minds of people in these fictional Utopias). I don’t mean you go through 8 years of chemotherapy and snag a Ph.D. in the process without spending a dime, and I don’t mean you party in well-appointed dormitories on your student meal plan. Living costs money, and it should. What I do mean is you basically avoid debt for those two specific services. Plausible? Ask Austria, France, Germany, Norway, Sri Lanka, and various others who are pretty close but whose people may incur limited, nominal debt.
“Yeah, well those countries aren’t America.”
Precisely. There are countries out there providing things for their citizens that America isn’t providing, or as some seem to think, can’t provide for its.
Some things might not be plausible in America, you say? Doesn’t America have the highest GDP in the world, and aren’t we in the top 5 or 10 in per capita GDP? So, why again can other countries do things we can’t?
Right. If you want those things, you have to move. So let me ask you again, how is America the greatest country in the world? Don’t get me started on student allowances (some countries pay kids to get an education). Don’t get me started on private health insurance and the bottom line mentality of corporations. Just think about the fact that that dread diagnosis (dread: adjective. causing great fear or anxiety) could cost someone their house (happens), or a graduation ceremony could be a harbinger of homelessness (happens).
The point is not that these services are owed to us. The point is that these services should not be able to sink us.
Next time you brush off these concepts as ideological fantasies of the self-pitying, maybe you should stop for a moment to think…
“Why America, again?”
Probably just your loved ones, your taste buds, and what’s on TV.