Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fighting for the Soul of America ?

What is the nature of America? Is this presidential election really a fight between vastly opposing values?

The presidential candidates seem to represent the two side: the college scholarship, self made, lean tall man of mixed race and a broken home. On the other side , born  super priviledged while it must be said, successful in his own right, from a family whose history represents flight from governance, the shiney smiling hamptons socialite and city slicker.

Barack Obama represents a move towards the USA becoming a social democracy, but just ever so slighty. His health insurance plans, once endorsed by many republicans before they picked up the hate-of-ObamaCare as a drum, keep provision largely private while perhaps introducing a deal of rationing. In effect what happens in the charity sector. And also spreads the payments: private health care in the US is economically floated by state employee contributions. In effect, like car insurance, it gives more people access to less health care per head, while also injecting a huge amount of money into that sector. From us in the "other" west, Canada, Europe, Australia, with our national insurance ( and in the picture part private plans the wealthier can afford, and the private supply to our public side), the fact that less than 20% of the USA's population have access to the type of services we take for granted and pay maybe 5% tax for, seems alien and unfair.

On education too, we still enjoy a high degree of social mobility, although this is very much under threat from the far right control in many lands now. I couldnt think of anything worse than my children having to go through the american system watching the over-priviledged swan around while they worked fast food and late night customer service to pay their way through an education compromised by lack of time to study.

But is the USA too inextricably linked to it's history and the type of chance taking, hard working optimists who took the boat there in the 19th C and before?  Well as Tom Wolfe puts it as a republican voter, you are as well to vote Romney to try and at least slow the train of inevitable governance and federalisation.

With rights to vote and a somewhat partisan race card being played, it is somewhat inevitable that capitalist countries which are democracies, drift towards social democracy because the ordinary, average person and the dispossessed can vote and capitalism inevitably makes their lives poorer by moving value up into capital. The borgiouse do well on republicans, and the super rich do well. Everyone else has the dream but for many their dream is to work in public service and qualify for private health care.

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