Saturday, November 1, 2008

What is this election a referendum on anyway?

I've been listening to a lot of right-wing radio recently. Maybe it's just the long boring commutes or the fund-raising drives on my favorite lefty stations. (Question: Why do right wing stations never have to hold bake sales and such? They don't run much advertizing. Hmmmm. Can you say vast right-wing conspiracy? And Rush makes millions!). Anyway, Rushbo, Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage, they're all beating the drum like crazy. It seems like all of America is bathed in these photons of electronic energy that say that a vote for Obama is a vote for socialism. And still Obama's poll numbers improve.

Is this telling us something?

Is Obama's election now a referendum on the idea of social democracy in America? What would that look like, anyway? In European social democracies, health care is cheap and afforadable for all. For the unemployed street person and the millionaire, and *especially* for the middle class breadwinner, it's something you take for granted is always there, like traffic lights, garbage pickup and the elementary school around the corner. Losing your job is not a nightmare of pre-existing conditions, or the loss of group health. The dreaded words co-pay, co-insurance and deductible are unknown. Though here's a neat trick: you save your claims up for a year, and if they're less than X dollars, you hold on to them and get a big refund. Otherwise you submit them and break even or are ahead.

And when I lived in Europe, the total cost of taxes plus health insureance was about the same as it is here. Live with it. It's nice.

Public universities (remember when UCLA in-state was free?). Public transportation -- I have the choice between a 2-hour round trip to my airport or a $140 shuttle. Wouldn't a $5.00 train be better? Like in civilized countries?

If this election is a referendum on social democracy, and Barack Obama wins it, can we actually start thinking about these things?

Just asking.

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