Distance Makes The Mind See Clearly

On October 1, I left the US for a short vacation in Europe.  There’s nothing special about this event.  What has, however, made this trip somewhat special is to hear about the American government shut down from those from other countries.  “What are they thinking” might summarize Spanish views of Congressional behavior succinctly.

Here in Spain, hardly Europe’s number one economy, life is good.  With over a quarter of the Spanish work force unemployed, one would expect an angry population.  And that is not the case.

To be sure, younger Spanish workers long for a stronger economy.  Spaniards are proud people.  Work is honorable, and the money comes in handy.

Government aid has been part of a carefully designed balance between “stimulus” and “austerity”.  Efforts are aimed at growing out of debt while still putting on the debt brakes.  Trains run, cleanly and on time.  Shops are open and street tables are full.  Spain is working.

Newscasts report here in astonished terms the US government shut down.  Why, they ask.  Why is the most powerful country so paralyzed?  They hear that a minority is strongly opposing President Obama but in contrast to their parliamentary government where a majority does have the ability to bring down a government, a minority cannot.

And what is the issue causing all this, they ask?  Health care?  And what is the issue that is in disagreement?

Astonishment gives way to bewilderment when a Spaniard learns that the conservative minority wants to return to “pre-affordable care act” policies.  Why would any civilized nation be comfortable with preventive health care being denied many because they cannot afford insurance or they already have known “pre-existing” diseases.  How can the most powerful and most wealthy nation turn its social back on some of its citizens?  How can some America’s citizens opt to not participate in health care coverage knowing that if they suddenly became ill, they would be cared for and might avoid all financial responsibility?

Hmmm.

Americans like to refer to both themselves and their country as “exceptional”.  I should say that might be true.  Unfortunately, America appears here exceptional for the wrong reasons.

Most Congress members (but not all) know this.  I wonder when their actions will follow their minds?

 

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