Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Want to Just Live My Life

I was talking to a lady the other day who grew up in Spain. She's now married to an American Air Force pilot, and she's going to graduate school to get a doctorate in aerospace engineering. I have no idea what that is and why it's different from aeronautics, but there it is. It's a far different world in colleges now than in days of yore, when there were basically about fifteen or so main courses of study. Anyway, this young woman--I cannot remember her name, but I do remember it was not a simple-to-remember one, was very interesting to talk to.

We got to talking about what's different in America than Spain. She begins by saying, "Well, it's socialism." (Good thing others didn't hear her or they'd be jumping out of the pool to avoid contamination.) What she meant, as further discussion revealed, was that Spain is like the rest of Europe. Basic human needs like health care, lengthy maternity leave, unemployment insurance, sick leave, pension are provided "free" to the citizenry, who must pay stiffer and more taxes than here. Higher education costs are also heavily subsidized by the government.

Of course she didn't like paying taxes. Who does? But here's what she said: she doesn't understand our system at all. Why should you be paying now for stuff that might happen (health insurance) or that is 40 years away (retirement)? And why should not everybody be taken care of? "I just want to live my life without having to worry about all that. I just want to live my life."

Indeed, wouldn't we all be able to do this in relative peace and security if we had a system like Spain, or Denmark, or France, or . . . ? Well, you get the picture.
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