Saturday, July 25, 2009

Feeling free-"er"

...a friend made a comment about feeling much freer since moving away from the states and I must say that thought has crossed my mind quite a lot lately. Not only do I feel MORE free but also way less stressed.

I don't have cable tv so I'm not bombarded by news 24/7 nor do I watch much news for that matter, and if I do it tends to be either ABC or SBS, which seem to be less influenced by politics or wanton bids for ratings. I think it might be the ratings thing that happens in the USA that makes all those news channels go on and on and on forever ad infinitum about every trivial little thing they can use to grab more ratings and more headlines. I think this is one of the biggest reasons for people feeling so scared and stressed. They're constantly bombarded by not only what IS happening but what is GOING to happen or what MIGHT happen. Scare tactics seem to be the driving force behind keeping Americans under control.

One person made a comment on FB about France. Hunh. Well, here are my thoughts on France. Of course, don't take my words for fact but simply my theory based on what I've observed in the news (French news, btw). France's gov't seems to be slightly afraid of its people. Demonstrations, riots in the streets, strikes...hell, Frenchmen and women seem to strike at the drop of a hat. They also tend to get what they ask for, too. What government wouldn't give in to its people if the whole country threatened to shut down? I can only imagine (this makes me chuckle slightly) what would happen in the states if half the country (why not ALL of it, for that matter) just stayed home on Monday. What if they also stayed home the rest of the week too? Well, I can tell you that no one would lose their jobs, for sure.

Losing a job. How well I remember the days of being scared of opening my mouth at work for fear of not having a job the next day. Few workers have any rights at all in the US. Why is that? How did it get that way and why do Americans put up with it? What about demonstrations? Well, few Americans get off their bums to vote, why should they bother to demonstrate? What would happen if they DID, though? I'll bet fewer problems than most would think...especially if the entire country got together and started demanding what they see as their rights.

The way I see it, Americans truly have very few rights, privileges, and freedoms. They only think they do. If they DID have them, why are they afraid to use it to their advantage? Why not demand not only Universal Health Care, but also better work conditions, better education, better wages. Many would say it's laziness, I think it is fear.

I'm certainly not advocating large scale anarchy or even demonstrations on a large scale...I'm only suggesting what might happen if people actually started demanding better treatment.

More to think on and perhaps add to later.

Surprisingly, I have never really considered myself to be one for speaking out...unless an injustice has been done to someone. What better time than now? Especially when the greatest injustice of all is being perpetrated against the people of my own country. Perhaps leaving it has made me see how much better things really CAN be.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Loss of Freedoms?

Just last night I was on Facebook and happened upon a poll about whether or not Americans believed that Universal Health Care should be adopted in the USA.

I was just floored at the amount of responses voting "No". I mean, WHY wouldn't someone want their health care provided out of their own tax dollars that they are already paying? One of the reasons I came across is (that for some strange reason) Americans seem to be very afraid of socialism and many wrote that giving the US government the right to set up a UHC system is tantamount to "starting a slide down the slippery slope to socialism" OR they are afraid of losing their "freedoms".

What is it about socialism that is so very bad? According to Wikipedia, socialism is defined as: Socialism refers to any one of various theories of economic organization advocating governmental or whole community ownership, and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a more egalitarian method of compensation.

To wit:

In 1989, at Stockholm, the 18th Congress of the Socialist International adopted a Declaration of Principles, saying that

Democratic socialism is an international movement for freedom, social justice, and solidarity. Its goal is to achieve a peaceful world where these basic values can be enhanced and where each individual can live a meaningful life with the full development of his or her personality and talents, and with the guarantee of human and civil rights in a democratic framework of society.[40]

The objectives of the Party of European Socialists, the European Parliament's socialist bloc, are "to pursue international aims in respect of the principles on which the European Union is based, namely principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, democracy, respect of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and respect for the Rule of Law." Today, the rallying cry of the French Revolution – "Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity" – now constitute essential socialist values.[41]

In 1995, the British Labour Party revised its political aims: "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that, by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create, for each of us, the means to realise our true potential, and, for all of us, a community in which power, wealth, and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few."[42] Cabinet minister Herbert Morrison said, "Socialism is what the Labour Government does."[38]

Now, why would that be so bad? It achieves so much for so many, and considering that the vast majority of Americans are living at or below the poverty level, especially in light of all the recent lay offs, why would universal health care be terrible. Why would a small form of socialism be a bad thing?

One thing I'm quite convinced of is the loss of this ethereal idea that Americans (in general) have of "freedom" is very wrong. What freedoms do Americans have that citizens of other first world countries do not. Well, we're once again back to the battle cry of the French: "Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity". Or "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", if you will. Pretty much the same thing for the average Joe. Could it be the loss of gun ownership? Well, I can see problems with that one, considering how many people in America own guns...but is that what it is all about?

Or is it simply propaganda that is perpetuated by the American press? Again, back to the "ethereal ideal" business. Sure, I can see how most Americans have this idea in their heads about freedom and it is simply fear of losing something they feel is precious to them.

But see, Americans don't have to fear bands of roving, angry, hungry, and drugged children armed with guns shooting everything in sight because they've been told to and are afraid not to shoot. Americans don't have to worry about their homes being taken and given to government or party officials, or being forced to live in ghettos, nor even do they need to fear persecution for their religious beliefs.

So, what are they really afraid of?

I shake my head as I ponder this problem. Perhaps one day I might have an answer...perhaps it is just unanswerable.