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The United States: Innovation and Immobility

Joaquín Roy is Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami.

MIAMI, Feb 20 2018 (IPS) - It is the country of paradox, based on the double column of creativity and tradition. Americans are unable to escape the twin submission to the adamnism of being the first and the last to accept that the rest of the planet can be more original and may outrank them in any field.

Expelled, transferred, fled from Europe, they refuse to admit that the reconstructed European civilization, which they have neglected since 1776, can be superior to them. Sometimes, as Trump came up with, they would willingly admit Norwegians, especially if this option would prevent the arrival of citizens from the shithole dumps of the galaxy. It is a useless alternative.

Joaquín Roy

Joaquín Roy

The United States is in danger if it strives stubbornly to maintain myths that slow its progress. Its idyllic interpretation of its foundational moments prevents Americans from accepting how much the world has changed by technology, social habits and laws, aspects among many others to which the genuine Mayflower and Ellis Island civilization has contributed in an impressive way. But the United States insists on believing that change, especially if it implies the admission of a subtle inferiority with respect to Europe, is detrimental to the survival of its identity.

The new massacre at another school (could have been in a mall, it does not matter) reminds us that the leaders of the United States and millions of citizens injure themselves with permanent damage. They erroneously interpret certain pioneering premises of their fundamental laws to their detriment. They confuse epochs and concepts sheltered under a security blanket that is shown as brutally perforated.

The so-called “right to bear arms” (what does not mean to use them at will), enthroned in the Second Amendment, has its origin in the era when there were neither federal armed forces nor the original states had the resources to maintain security. There were no structures that guaranteed the monopoly of the exercise of force (and protective violence, if appropriate) that is the hallmark of the Nation-State that inherited the authority of the old kingdoms and empires.

The new massacre at another school (could have been in a mall, it does not matter) reminds us that the leaders of the United States and millions of citizens injure themselves with permanent damage. They erroneously interpret certain pioneering premises of their fundamental laws to their detriment. They confuse epochs and concepts sheltered under a security blanket that is shown as brutally perforated.


The perverse belief that individuals are policemen and drivers of tanks in defense of their families and heritage, beyond the living room of their homes, can contribute to a comfort in which the individual is sacred. Society is secondary. The American “exceptionalism” prevents accepting that in other countries the forging of private armies and the collection of lethal weapons is not allowed, beyond the museum pieces. The opposite would be to admit the superiority of a Europe that had to be rescued from its own sins on two occasions. Europeans are masters in stumbling over the same stone, but after WWI they have learnt.

In this new massacre, more young people and children are victims of a system with atrocious deficiencies of mental health, education, and (why not?) well understood discipline. The key to these extremely serious incidents lies in the shortcomings of health plans that are gripped by the same myth of superiority and animosity towards what is interpreted (horror!) as “socialism”. The “system” (to call it somehow that) of health of the United States is a disaster of colossal proportions. But nobody seems capable of correcting it, innovating it or changing it. It is another result of the survival of foundational myths.

The beneficiaries of this health chaos are diverse. Of particular note are the private insurance companies that offer coverage to privileged users, who can afford to pay the fees and co-pay. They are followed by the manufacturers of medicines that claim the need to recover the costs of research (often developed with public funds). Then there are the doctors who must pay the debts incurred in obtaining their licenses in private universities. And finally, there are the politicians who play on the side of opposition to medicine and public health, universal and free, under the claim that this modality is a variant of “socialism”, a word pronounced with a “communist” accent

The losers are the millions of disinherited citizens who do not have access to jobs with mandatory coverage and shared financing. The worst affected are the unemployed who must be temporarily admitted to public hospitals or covered by charities. But there are those who recklessly go free until surgery leaves them without a home and inheritance. And when someone, like Obama, tries to change this chaos, he is crucified and his project becomes a primary target of annihilation.

When one asks why millions of Europeans are willing to accept these “socialist” solutions, in many of the capitalist countries with the highest rates of development, equality, education, low crime, reasonable birth rates and life expectancy, the answer is simple: because they accept to pay high taxes. Americans themselves pay the same high contributions, and swear without questioning that primary and secondary education remains public, universal. They accept this “socialist” modality.

But Americans and the politicians who stubbornly oppose  a reform are not willing to do the same with health, a fundamental right as life, freedom and … the pursuit of happiness, as the jeffersonian motto says. And they allow this unjust madness until the next group murder, committed by a madman, lacking basic health coverage, armed to the teeth, protected by the constitutional amendment that allows him to “have and bear arms.”

Joaquín Roy is Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami.
jroy@miami.edu

 

 
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  • ProsperityForRI

    Right on.

  • jgarbuz

    Not all conservatives are totally regressive. There are ideas, traditions and ways from the past worth conserving, and others that are not. I’m for “green energy” and self-driving electric cars, but I’m against abortion. I’m for The Wall, but against deporting the DACAs. I’m for strict interpretation of the second amendment, but against people owning atomic bombs and ballistic missiles. So there is some room for compromise. But the Left wants it all, like the old Soviet Union.