I’ve been thinking alot lately about work, unions, health insurance. Three terms that long ago, went hand in hand. Long, long ago. Before my time actually. Several sources have triggered and fueled my thoughts on this topic, among them:
Bill Maher shutting down that bow-tie wielding simpleton Tucker Carlson, on the subject of 44 million uninsured Americans versus Canadian national health insurance.
The BC government’s attempts to paint teachers on strike as criminals. and while we’re at it, I found the fairly negative history of organized labor-government relations in Canada – pretty shocking. I’m naive like that, always believing things are more civil under the maple leaf.
Jamie from the known-universe, the great blogger and author, confessing that his health insurance has run out, and as a diabetic – how unaffordable his health conditions have become. 500 bucks at the pharmacy? That should be a crime against humanity.
But this is where the world is headed. The US is much further down the road of union-less insurance-less citizenry. But Europe and the rest of the world aren’t too far behind. Threats to the great traditions of organized labour and national health, which helped this continent achieve the highest quality of life in the world, are almost inevitably going to win. And what the hell happens then? Bad things I say… bad things.
You know how it goes when you’re a world citizen blogger. One day you’re talking about Poland, then Frisbee in Amsterdam, and before you know it, it’s time to talk Turkey. Or as we say in Portuguese “Peru” .
Not sure how much you know or the world’s media tells you, about Peruvian history and politics, but myself – I’ve been watching the events unfold for the last 6 years with great frustration. Let me catch you up:
From 1990 to 2000 there was a most terrible president by the name of Alberto Fujimori. A tyrant and dictator who used all kinds of violence and secret tactics to maintain power and oppress oppositional groups. But fortunately in 2000 his ass got chased out of Peru and back to Japan (where he is also a citizen). The country slowly started a process of investigating the crimes of the Fujimori administration, eventually arresting one of the major murderous assholes- Vladimiro Montesinos, who was the head of the secret police during that time, and was also very talented at profiting from drug smuggling. Unfortunately they still haven’t gotten their hands on Fujimori, because Japan refuses to hand him over.
So now there are elections coming up, and Fujimori – even while hiding in Japan – says he will run for president again. And having heard about this, I have a plan for Peru:
Being that it is necessary to deal with the past in order to face the future. And being that Alberto is responsible for a whole lot of human rights violations during his time as el presidente, I say he must be captured – in a clever way. Therefore – I say tell him he is running for president. Tell the whole country to “make pretend” .. and then pretend he wins.. and when he arrives at the airport with that smug “I killed lots of you the first time and youre stupid enough to elect me again” look on his face, ARREST HIM! YAY! Then comes the trial and people can throw tomatos and poof.. national reconciliation mixed with justice and even a bit of fun!
There was one specific New Jersey summer, when I was 16, that I picked up a copy of “On Revolution” – selected writings of Ho Chi Min. The book was 25 cents, and I recognized the name as one of those personalities from history that public school education teaches you was basically evil. Of course I was a skeptical kid, -still am-, so I knew I had to read the words of this alleged tyrant.
Though many of my memories from that year may have faded a bit, I still remember that book and how it captured my mind and my heart. Nevermind if you like him or don’t like him. Nevermind the good or bad he may have done in his life, I’m speaking about the person that came through in that book. To me, those words were filled with passion and dedication to basic principles, about the right of people not to be colonized or enslaved, and also to determine their own collective future. A bigger point that stood out for me, was how he spoke about patriotism. I can’t remember the exact quote, but I think it was that the greatest crimes in the history of the world have been committed in the name of patriotism.
That statement has always stuck with me throughout my life. I had always found all the flag waving and patriotism in the US unsettling. I actually felt a similar odd feeling when I lived in France and observed the patriotism that sometimes shows its face there. And when I look at this so called “WAr on Terrorism” and all the propoganda that comes with it, I can’t help but think of Ho Chi Min’s simple but often ignored conclusion.- The greatest crimes in the history of the world, continue to be commited in the name of patriotism.
By the way I’ve finally gotten back into reading Back To Iraq which is one of the best and first sources of blog journalism in Iraq.
Something should be said about the Polish elections, cause Poland is a big country, a new EU member, with a truely stubborn national spirit (I love stubborn populations!). I figure when you have such a violent and abused history as a nation, the effects will be felt for generations, in many different ways.
Trouble is, I’m not a Polish politics expert. Though I do keep an eye on Valesa’s son, who did get elected into parliament a few days ago, I had only read an article or two about the twins who are poised to become Prime Minister and President from the “law and justice” party. Can you just picture how the Bush family must be hard at work trying to get the same kind of deal. I mean they got the twins already.
I digress – Polish elections: They say its a shift to the “right” because the “left” is corrupt. They also say the L and J party will tackle unemployment and reforms. Myself I’m skeptical any party in Poland could properly handle problems that are deeply rooted traditions more then they are sudden crises. Or perhaps Im wrong, was the Polish social and economic scene doing well at some point? Communism, capitalism, fascism… my heart goes out to them cause regular Poles always seem to get skrewed.
Here’s one journalist who’s blog I should read more closely and covers the elections quite well. Of course you can also consult the Beeb. And lastly, I haven’t listened to it or checked it thoroughly, but this report looks nice and grassroots.