Ernest and I arrived at our little retreat in Maine at the very end of July. Our little cottage was in fine shape. Invisible hands—and checks—had seen to it that we had a new water heater, a brand new dock, a new granite stove pad, and new carpeting for my beloved writer’s studio. We experienced the usual joy of rediscovering the spectacular landscape of Mount Desert Island, and the “stuff” we had collected to embellish our retreat. Nevertheless, it seems to take me longer than usual to attain my usual summer serenity.
Perhaps serenity will escape me altogether this year, its absence largely related to money—not necessarily mine, because I earned my relatively small income during America’s golden years when I could save and invest some of it during better economic times—but that of the nation. This November we will go to the polls to choose a new president. It is a very serious decision; the well-being of the nation depends on it. I believe that neither candidate can predict the outcome of the economy. It will be influenced by many factors, most beyond presidential control.
What I do know, however, is that currently the Republicans gloat that they will “outspend President Obama ten to one.” According to their estimates they will spend more than a billion dollars on this election! Apart from the fact that I object to the fact that politicians assume that the votes of my fellow Americans can be bought, I wonder what else we could buy, more ethically, with this billion dollars: school lunches, maintaining customary hours for libraries, birth control for those who want it so as to reduce abortions, retraining the unemployed, prenatal care, reducing drug cost for seniors…
The last brings me to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act, modeled after former Governor Romney’s plan for Massachusetts. Now this modest health protection plan is depicted as creeping socialism. Nobody likes regulations and big government, but I have encountered few people who object to mandatory car insurance, or the existence of police and fire departments.
We are probably the only industrialized country that does not have universal comprehensive health insurance. Europeans cannot understand why we don’t and neither do our Canadian neighbors to the north. Thanks to employer-provided health insurance I have two artificial joints and 40+ years of treatment for severe glaucoma—a serious eye disease. I see and walk and fortunately do not burden either my family or the nation. I want my fellow citizens to do as well.
America has always thrived on free enterprise. Yet we always were a kind, welcoming, egalitarian, generous nation, ready to help its citizens to do well. Let us keep it that way to the best of our ability.