Saturday, December 24, 2011

ObamaCare and the Bloating Think Cake

It wouldn't be cool or professional to count the eradication of smallpox as part of the modern condition..." From Saturday by Ian McEwan

This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor. Bernie Sanders (US Senator from Vermont) regarding the bailout of the U.S. financial system - 2008

St Kilda, Melbourne, OZ
I've recently come back from OZ. "OZ", Australian for Australia.

I spent just under three weeks there, and seasoned New Yorker that I am, I succumbed. Succumed to the appreciation - as I always do - of a caring state.

And even when I haven't just come back from OZ, it always puzzles me that the terms "ObamaCare" and "Nanny State" are meant to be derogatory. For my Australian readers, "ObamaCare" is a pejorative term refering to the healthcare legislation proposed by President Barack Obama.

What's so bad about a society that cares for the unfortunate, the disadvantaged? What is so bad about progress? The reasons people are unhappy with change has been analyzed and explained far better than I could ever write. But the difference in "care" between the two societies, Australian and American never fails to astound me.

Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Victoria Street, Melbourne
In On Not Being Fiona, just before I left New York in November this year, I wrote. "There's something about a place, any place, when you are about to leave it."

Too true, but now it is Australia that I have left.

Upon returning, people, New Yorkers, asked me the usual questions. This time, one of the most bizarre was, "What's the food like there?" Are you kidding? I thought - but was too polite to answer. Melbourne must have some of the best restaurants in the world. And though you can get nearly every possible cuisine in New York, there's nothing like Victoria Street Richmond in Melbourne, where Vietnamese restaurants occupy almost every inch of real-estate. So what if the spelling on the menus isn't the best; the food it to die for.

In my last post on leaving New York I wrote,

"The place, usually a city, appears to magically take on its best features, its quintessential being. And I wonder, "why am I leaving?" This is especially so when the city is New York."

And so when two weeks ago when I left Australia, I wondered, "What am I doing, leaving the place of my birth, my education, my friends, my family?"

Usually the period of adjustment, moving from OZ to the US takes a day or two. This time, it's taken longer. I wonder why?

Is it because I'm older? Because of changes in my family? Because of the threat of having Newt Gingrich as president of the US? I survived Bush; why not Gingrich? Well I know the answer to that ... but you know what I mean.


I'm here now, and Australia is too fast becoming a memory.

A memory.

A memory in need of refreshing.


Anonymous said...

Your reflections mimic mine at the same period of my life. I'm sick of these puffed up puppies/old dogs who 'made it' largely by luck and their place in the financial cycle. We too missed Oz in our later fifties and seriously though of returning to a place where there is more compassion for the less fortunate. As you may recall, we said, "If Bush is elected, we'll move back." An opportunity missed, but we are now stuck in the Hate State of Arizona where the less fortunate are swept aside whenever possible. Altho' I see you as a New Yorker, I wonder if it's just a veneer over a true Melbournian. Well, we make our life decisions and learn to live with them. Hard to be so remote from family even if it is in our case only 1800 miles. Happy Christmas, Kate. Toss one for us.

Vanessa said...

I am very interested in the Bloating Think Cake.

It is early but my imagination is having fun with that one.

Now that I am working again there is no shortage of Bloating, or Thinking, or Cake.

Merry Christmas Kate, I hope you had a wonderful visit.

Anonymous said...

I have had the interesting experience of living in Canada for 2 years and temp transfer to Texas for 5 months. I worked with a lot of Americans curing my time in Texas with a lot of people from all over the US. I actually found the general attitude of the US guys were very similar to Australian people rather than Canadians but perhaps less sympathetic in terms of welfare. At the same sime I found them very tolerant of extremely long hours and hard work which perhaps explains that attitude.

Americans respect hard workers - if you can do it then it doesnt matter too much what you know. Outside of that if you like sport they love you more. Hoever, they dont believe in big government which wastes money or indulgent welfare for those who dont make the effort.

Interstingly they have a pretty good unemployment system so I took great pleasure of reminding them of that when they make reference to Australian and Canada as socialist countries.

The other thing I notice is that younger people generally have a greater respect for older people in both countries. Partly I suspect because neither country is particularly a nanny state and you will get your ass kicked no matter what your age.

In some ways Australia is closer to Europe in terms of social welfare than Nth America - so look and learn what has happened there. In other ways Australia is very close to the USA but it slaps it down in terms of work ethic. Canada is similar to Australia for work ethic but somehow slways remain the most civilized country in the world - however that said while they would never tell you that something annoys them - they see nothing wrong with their hockey players going toe to toe and knocking each others head off.

Advice to those travelling - there will always be something better - there will always be something worse - the best you can do is accept the culture you are in and take in the parts that can grow you as a person and help you understand the world a little better. A difference can be good or bad - you decide.

Michelle Lynch said...

According to, "But according to a new report by Heritage’s James Sherk, Obamacare will have the opposite effect, pricing many unskilled workers out of full-time employment due to the law’s requirement that employers offer health benefits to full-time employees." If this is the case, they have to rethink this through and find a better legislation.

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