This is in response to the Daily Prompt: Reason to Believe
In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day / people find some reason to believe.” What’s your reason to believe?
I grew up 300 miles north of where Bruce Springsteen grew up. He is one of the musicians I have a deep respect for because he never forgot his working class routes. He’s known to play for 3 hours or more every show and the band gives it all they’ve got. To me this is growing up in the Northeast, gritty perseverance meets calling it like it is.
His songs are very personal and political. He talks about working day in and day out for a better life. This has been my life, always looking for ways to improve the system. I’ve lived in Australia 3 of the last 4 years and have learned that the U.S. needs to be improved. Universal healthcare works and is a must. When I am sick in Australia I walk down the road to a nearby clinic (they are everywhere), wait 10-20 minutes, and see a doctor for free. In the U.S., my uninsured ass waits until I am near death to saunter over to an emergency clinic at 6am. The line is out the door and takes 2 hours to make it to the reception desk. Having trouble breathing, it takes me some time and coughing fits to give them my details, the receptionist looks at me in pity as I’m signing my life away. Being uninsured I get the most basic of chest xrays and am told there is nothing definitive as I’m shoved out the door 3 hours later with a prescription for overpriced cough syrup. 1 week later a bill for over $1000 arrives. This is quite common. This illness (possibly pneumonia) lasted for 3 months and resulted in me quitting my full time job. Mom and I couldn’t afford much food (not that I could eat), couldn’t afford to heat the mobile home with propane in the dead of winter, and couldn’t even afford a mattress for myself. I was sleeping on the blow up mattress on the floor of the living room. There were a few nights where I was afraid to go asleep because my breathing had gotten so labored. Again, this is common in America. People slowly dying in their homes because going to the hospital means declaring bankruptcy.
Let’s compare this to Australia. I was granted residency in Australia on my mother’s birthday, August 7th. Having worked full time for 9 months prior, my partner and I had saved up enough money to pay off my $7000 in student loans and $3000 towards the partner visa. We got our tax returns in July and had several thousand dollars. We planned a 3 week hike in Alice Springs, Northern Territory on the Larapinta Trail. A week into our hike, and a few days after my visa had gone through I became seriously injured to the point of needing to be pushed around the airport in a wheelchair, pain reverberating down my spine. Getting back home we didn’t hesitate to get to a doctor and all xrays were covered by Medicare. Although I didn’t know this at the time, when you suffer an injury or illness you can apply for centrelink in Australia. It’s basically government funding to help you get back on your feet. You don’t have to be injured to apply for the Newstart Allowance, in fact, many people are on it as soon as they stop working. This allowance is $480 every 2 weeks for an individual, and $480 per week for a couple. That is $960 a month cash handed to an individual per month, and $1920 per month for a couple. It’s more than enough to pay for a modest apartment, food, gas etc. The Newstart Allowance makes U.S. Food Stamps (Snap Program) look like a joke.
One thing I’ve learned about living in Australia is that the U.S. is unwarranted in being called “the welfare state”. There is not much that American’s get handed. A living wage, universal healthcare, and tax money spent in a way that benefits more than the pockets of immoral millionaires is something that is worth fighting for. These things are all basic rights and need to be demanded.
I write more about the differences between Australia and the United States in another post: