You’ll have to excuse me, because normally I write non-political travel articles, although occasionally I will write about some facet of travel which really gets up my craw (such as my pet bugbear – reclining seats in planes).
I am inspired to write this editorial simply because I am receiving notifications from many US States informing me which tourist facilities, primarily national parks and monuments, that have been closed down due to the US Congress Budget legislation deadlock that has effectively cut down many US Government services.
My understanding is that the supply of federal money has been stopped because of Republicans refusal to fund Obamacare, which would provide universal health care.
I live in Australia, and this tactic was tried in 1975 when the Senate here refused to pass supply and the then Prime Minister was sacked by the Governor-General, who is Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Australia. Australia is a monarchy, which accepts the Queen as our head of State. Shortly after this event legislation was passed which prevented the Senate from blocking Supply. This means that Australia can still have a politic crisis, but the country as a whole still operates as the supply of money for government services is guaranteed.
What I don’t understand about the US political system is why would the members of any political party ruin their country’s ability to function, cease federal workers’ salaries, close much of the country and effectively make the US the laughing stock of the world over an absurd ideological position?
I have read many Americans comments following articles online discussing the reasons behind the decision to block the budget, and I am simply bewildered as to why Americans prefer their system to be controlled by profit-making, and often heartless, insurance companies rather than have a national health service where the primary duty is to provide universal health care that is not dependent on personal wealth?
Currently, about 35 countries provide universal health care in some form or another. We have it in Australia, and it is primarily funded by a percentage of our taxes being used specifically for health care. Additionally, we also have private health insurers who offer the customers a larger choice of services, such as elective surgery, but private health insurance is voluntary for those who wish to pay extra to be guaranteed a place in a private hospital should they need it.
I do not say that Australia has the world’s best universal health service, but it is pretty good and at least I know that if I have a medical emergency then I will receive good hospital care with decent follow up services. I don’t notice the cost as it is merely part of my taxes. The system is fair to everyone, and that is what I like about it.
If an American were to visit Australia and have a medical emergency, they would be looked after in our hospital system. If I go to America, I pay the very highest rate of travel insurance, simply because the cost of receiving medical attention in the US can be horrendous. I always purchase travel insurance when I travel overseas anyway, but travelling to the US does greatly increase the cost of my insurance.
Practically every country in Europe has a universal health service, as do countries in Asia, North America (Canada), Latin and South America, Oceania and the Middle East. Most first world countries have some form of universal health service, and the US joins most third world countries in not offering its citizens a genuine universal health service.
The two things which most puzzle me about the US are attitudes regarding the introduction of a fair, equitable and affordable universal health service, and the absolutely crazy opposition to reasonable gun control. Americans often refer to themselves as the `Land of the free’. There’s not much “Free” about the place, unless you think that the right to gun down masses of innocent people is somehow a legitimate display of personal liberty.
There’s no “personal freedom” to be ill and out of work, thus have no health insurance, and expect even a modicum of reasonable medical care. There’s nothing “free” about eating at a restaurant, catching a cab, staying at a hotel when you have to keep peeling off wads of dollar bills in order to tip workers whose hourly pay rate is so low you feel both embarrassed and ashamed for them.
Most First World countries allow their citizens to enjoy a universal funded health system, reasonable minimum wages which allows for a comfortable life style, minimum holiday periods which allow adequate time for recreation and reasonable gun control legislation. The United States is a great country, and the citizens are genuinely decent people, they just have some bizarre ideas that would not be mainstream anywhere else.
For instance, despite its power, the United States has an inward looking society which has little understanding, nor interest, in the world beyond its borders.
Their most popular sports of baseball, gridiron and basketball, with the exception of basketball, are generally ignored by the rest of the world. Whilst the world’s most popular sport of soccer is played in the US, it has little impact. Similarly, motor sport in the US is huge, but Nascar is a local series, and there is little interest in the world’s most popular motor sport, which is F1.
The citizens of the United States seem to prefer to remain insular, and whilst they are entitled to their beliefs, the fact that a particular party can almost destroy a nation’s economy because of an unreasonable and insane political belief to deny citizens the basic right to unbiased and reliable health care is, quite simply, bizarre.