Growing up an hour's drive from the Canadian- American border, I have always been somewhat in awe of what Americans can do when they put their minds to it. Indeed, the "can do" spirit is something quintessentially American. It is woven into the fabric of the American dream, for better or worse, but is something to behold and to wonder.
After all, Americans invented the nuclear bomb, which, as odd as it may seem, put an end to the scale of carnage and horror thar occurs when nations engage in total warfare as was the case in the World Wars. As it turned out, the mere thought of mutually assured destruction has to this day prevented the major military powers from taking each other on.
Years later, when I was a boy, I watched in real time on a black and white television in the comfort of my living room as the first man, an American, set his foot on the moon. It still boggles my mind that not only were they able to put a man on the moon, but that we could witness this truly historic event unfold nearly a quarter million miles away -- live
Presently, you are reading this text thanks to the communicative power arising from yet another American invention, the Internet, which has given birth to the World Wide Web and all the applications we can download to do things that our forefathers never had dreamed of with a simple tap on a screen.
Yet, with all this imagination, with all this know how, the richest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen is unable to provide for and take care of all its citizens. In fact, as reported in The Atlantic:
For the first time since the 1990s, Americans are dying at a faster rate, and they’re dying younger. A pair of new studies suggest Americans are sicker than people in other rich countries, and in some states, progress on stemming the tide of basic diseases like diabetes has stalled or even reversed. The studies suggest so-called “despair deaths”—alcoholism, drugs, and suicide—are a big part of the problem, but so is obesity, poverty, and social isolation.It's as if those who govern have turned their backs on those who are governed. When it comes to health outcomes in the United States, there is a steep social gradient. In short, the richer you are the longer you live and with a better quality of live. Conversely, the poorer you are, chances are that your life will be shorter and be plagued by a number of ailments brought on by lifestyle choices that are difficult to escape.
Importantly, it doesn't need to be this way. It is not as if God has ordained this state of affairs. Unfortunately, many Americans, in particular within the ruling class, behave in concordance with the belief that wealth, as well as skin color, is a sign of divine favor, while poverty and sickness are the sign of moral decrepitude and skin color is a sign of moral and spiritual degeneration. In other words, in America God's chosen few are rich and white, like the founders of the nation.
This twisted cultural meme, a weird mutation of the Calvinist doctrine of election, has been embraced by America's ruling elite throughout the nation's history. This point was brought to my attention during my last trip to New York City, where upon visiting the National Archives, aptly located in the financial district, I learned that Broadway, the longest and most famous street in the Big Apple, was originally built by African slaves on what was left of a trail forged by the Indigenous peoples living on Manhattan. In fact, since its inception as an English colony, the creation and accumulation of wealth in America has involved and often depended upon the exploitation of an underclass, which in this case involved the exploitation of those who were thought to be subhuman.
Today, things have changed, but nowhere near what we could expect from a civilized nation in the twenty-first century. For instance, in almost all of the developed countries in the world, adequate health care provided to the entire citizenry is thought of a basic human right. After all, no one knows what the fates have in store and misfortune may fall upon any of us. As a result, in developed nations basic health care is made available to everyone.
Not so in the United States of America. In the US, where health care is delivered for the most part by the private sector motivated by the desire for profit, the guiding principle informing the system is "pay for the service, or die"! How Christian!
It's not difficult to see why. Extending adequate health care to people of limited means requires the financial participation of the wealthy. Indeed, the inclusion of millions who were previously uninsured into the Affordable Care Act (ushered in by President Obama), so that they could enjoy the benefits of being eligible to receive health care beyond their individual capacity to pay was predicated on a surtax levied upon the wealthy, those with incomes of more than $200,000 per annum. Now that the republicans control Congress, the Office of the President, and the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act has been repealed and replaced by the aptly named, the American Health Care Act, which eliminates all the taxes in the previous act that were included to pay for the subsidies that help people buy insurance, estimated to add up to $592 billion. Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that over 10 years, 24 million fewer Americans would be covered under the present bill who otherwise have had insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
So, what is the future for these 24 million Americans, who most probably will find themselves without health insurance? Obviously, those who rule America don't give a shit about them: "let them fend for themselves and may God have mercy upon their sorry-ass souls."
What a missed opportunity to bring America within the fold of civilized nations. Instead, the core values of Social Darwinism have once again been unleashed. The exploits of the exceptional will be applauded and the plight of the downtrodden will be ignored.
America, a great place to visit, but thank God I don't live there.