Monday, October 14, 2013
The Terrorists on Capitol Hill
C’est quoi, Obamacare? My sister Isabelle, who is a composer of operas and lives in a lovely apartment near the Moulin Rouge in Paris, has recently taken an interest in the present American craziness. This is because the European media--radio, TV, newspapers and internet--are having a field day with the US Government shutdown. Over there, something happens to upset the citizenry and people take to the streets, turning over a Citroën or two on the Place de la Concorde and possibly shutting the government down for a forty-eight hours. But the government shutting itself down? Closing museums and national parks and research facilities nationwide? The government not taking care of business? How crazy is that?
I tell Isa that Obamacare is a law passed quite a while ago to ensure that people have health insurance.
Il n’y a pas d’assurance nationale? She asks. I try to explain that no, the United States is perhaps the only developed country not to have a national health insurance system in place. I tell her about Medicare and Medicaid which are designed to help people over 65. Under that age, you’re on your home. I also tell her that a couple of years ago my monthly medical insurance bill was more than $500, not including prescription drugs. Since I am a family of one and self-employed, there was no one helping me with this large yearly outlay. Isa is amazed. Insurance has never been a concern for her family. When she was pregnant with her children, the state paid the bills, saw to it that she had a decent period of recuperation, and later offered all sorts of assistance as her children were growing up.
Alors? Ils sont fou ou quoi, ces politiciens ?Qu’est ce qu’ils font ? What are they doing? That’s hard to explain too. They’re essentially futzing with the welfare of the nation and trying to ensure that an initiative passed a while back will not get the necessary funding to become effective.
Isa says, Donc, ces politiciens, ils ont pris le pays otage. I answer that yes, that’s a good way of looking at it. The elected officials on Capitol Hill have indeed taken the country hostage.
Comme des terroristes, Isa concludes. Indeed, just like terrorists. Our Congresspeople--the ones put in office by that very small minority of Americans who do their civic duty and actually vote--have taken the country hostage.
Incroyable, says Isa.
Oui, je sais, I tell her. I know. It is incredible.
Et les gens ne font rien? No, for the most part people aren’t doing much at all to protest the government shutdown. There’s been little public outrage, no demonstrations in the streets, save for some military veterans in the Nation’s Capital who took the metal barricades baring entry to museums and memorials and dumped them in front of the White House. This lack of involvement by the citizenry astounds the Europeans, who take to the streets almost as a national sport.
Incroyable, says Isa again. Vraiment incroyable. And I have to agree.