Saturday, July 8, 2017

Land of the Free (If You've Got a Pot to Piss In)

Well, after a two-week trip to Europe, here I am back in the USA--you know, the country that's supposedly running like a fine-tuned machine. (Haha.) 

I suppose I should be grateful that I have escaped what right-wingers like Rand Paul call "the socialist gulag" of France--that bastion of misguided "wealth redistribution"--where two of my friends have recently had intensive medical procedures conducted by top specialists and paid for by perhaps the finest (universal) healthcare system in the world; where trains are clean, frequent and on-time; where trash is collected daily and streets are washed continually; where highways are maintained and pothole-free; where a weekly pass for transport anywhere within the Parisian agglomeration (subway, buses, suburban trains) costs only €22.50; where everyone gets at least a month of paid vacation; where college education is essentially free; and where (this is the best part) even the most extreme right-wingers accept these policies as appropriate and legitimate. 

OK, there are also problems: high unemployment, complicated and inflexible work rules, racial and religious tensions, poor assimilation of immigrants. But, Jesus! toute proportion gardée, France is considerably more fine-tuned (in both senses of the word "fine") than DJT's mean and dysfunctional America. 

Surely, then, we need to crawl out from under our selfish, reactionary rock. "We all do better when we all do better," said the late Paul Wellstone--in a formula that infuriates both extremes of the right wing (the super-rich plutocrats and the no-pot-to-piss-in wannabes). Still, the idea is sound: even Henry Ford realized that he, too, would do better if his workers could afford to buy his cars. 

So, in the final analysis, I conclude once again--as I always do upon returning to the "land of the free" (but only if you already have your pot to piss in): we could use a good dose of French-style equality and fraternity to temper our obsession with untrammeled (and therefore brutal) liberty.

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