Sorry, I am about to go off on a rant here. Bear with me while I roll out some travel inspiration and/or something to think about while you are here chez moi.
Sometimes I think that it just isn’t fair. I have traveled all over the world and seen some great systems in place in other countries for taking care of their citizens. Why can’t we have something like this in the United States?
Some of the wonderful things that I have noticed in other countries (both westernized/industrialized and not):
- Universal health care as a basic human right
- Free college that is included in the regular education system
- 6-8 weeks paid vacation time each year
- Shorter work hours and weeks
- Daycare provided free or at a reduced cost for children
- Paid maternity leave (1-3 years seems to be common in other developed and less developed countries)
The result of all of these initiatives? I am convinced that it is happier people with less stress. Happy people who feel taken care of are more giving and generous with those around them. This, in turn, results in a happier and healthier society.
These countries that really make an effort to take care of their people have a whole different vibe. If you have been to one of these places, you know what I am talking about.
It is sometimes subtle things; people are just a little bit happier looking and more relaxed. You don’t see homeless people. There is less trash and the countries are cleaner. People are healthier because they all have access to medical care. The standard of living is just frankly higher.
The trade off? These other countries pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes, but I think that is a small price to pay for a longer, healthier life with less stress.
The tax rates are as high as 50% in some countries with social services like this, but I wonder if our taxes here in the US aren’t almost that high when you take into account all of the hidden taxes and costs that we aren’t conscious of?
A big scary “S” word for all of this is being thrown around liberally as we approach the US presidential elections in November. Socialism.
The negative associations that come with this word are being accentuated and amplified and broadcast to the masses who may or more likely may not know what the word really means. Socialism is just like any other tool. It can be applied in good ways and evil ways.
The blessing and curse of travel is that I have seen how this type of system at work in other countries and it makes me increasingly more frustrated with the “system” that we have in the United States.
I don’t really care what you call it. If it is taking care of the people and everyone is happier and it is making life healthier and easier, then that is the definition of a good system for me and I think that it is something that we need to consider.
How have your travels changed your perspective on your home country?