Sunday, July 8, 2012
While on vacation in a small seaside village in France, my wife and I received news that the Supreme Court had endorsed Obamacare (since when can the Supreme Court rule on Presidential policy?). By "received word," we mean we saw it on French TV, without English translation. Our bilingual concierge confirmed that "validee" meant "okayed." The concierge giggled, and we asked why. "You Americans. Such a big deal over what should be obvious. We French think nothing at all of national health care. Why the...uh...le guerre?" We tried to explain the Tea Party to her. She laughed again. I shame-facedly felt like I was telling her why it was so hard for American troglodytes to accept the fact that the world was not flat. "Ah, oui. Ze barbarians," she said. "I demand my right to die before it is time. I demand my right to have ze financial ruin because I must be in ze hospital for a long time. I demand my right to be, how do you say, excluded because ze illnes is not covered. I demand my right to be sick. I demand my right to be cheated by insurance companies. Haha, your Tea Party is funny. Reminds me of small children with tiny brains who refuse to get along with ze others and do what is best for all. They can't stand to see others benefit or do well; the greater good means nothing to them. They are infantile and greedy. You have many like this, no?" I admitted there were millions and millions of them. So many that it makes one wonder from where they all come. "I am an American expatriate for many reasons," continued the concierge, "and this is one. America is a nation of 'me.' France is a nation of 'us.' Only don't tell this to an American, or they will surely wave a flag in your face and tell you that America is the greatest country in ze world. Even though you hate one another and wish each other ill." "Not all of us are that way," I replied. "We elected a progressive man, a man of color, no less, who seems to have the greater good at heart." "Oui. There are people of goodwill, but they are too civil...and afraid of the loud, rude, violent barbarians. Like here, during ze war. Too many of us were afraid to stand up to the Nazis, and they conquered us. You must fight them." "We do plenty of that. In fact, that's about all that ever gets done in Washington." "We have our differences here, but we are fond of our fellow Francos. You have many who speak of the Bible in America. Doesn't your Bible tell you to love one another and share. Yet you have so few with everything, and so many with so little. I don't understand how your Church and rulers get away with this. If the Bible tells us anything, it tells us that capitalism is evil. The rich man has ze same chance to enter heaven as the elephant to pass through ze needle." She stopped and smiled "C'est la vie...it can be no other way in America, for that is the nature of capitalism. The tiny number of wealthy must own the great number of masses...not everyone can be a king or a CEO, for ze rest must work in ze king's factories, make his bread, shine his shoes, manicure his lawn, collect his trash, bow at his foot. It works no other way. Few receive and many serve. Ze ruling class maintains this order by making scorn of any talk of all receiving and all serving. This is ze talk of ze socialist devil, no?" She smiled and politely excused herself. "You Americans...au revoir; bonne chance."