Monday, November 8, 2010

The Age of Austerity and Crazy American Politics Observations

Like the US, the UK still isn't fully out of the economic recession, and if anything, the unfortunate financial crisis that hit the private sector last year is now impacting the public sector.  The UK government is having to make major budgetary cuts to various programs in the UK, and when a dear friend asked me about things last week, I realized that though I've been quiet about things on my blog, I very clearly had an opinion & obsevations on the topic.  To wit, here is the email exchange (well, in truth, my friend asking me about the budget cuts and me getting up on my soap box in response...):

Dear Friend: Would love to hear how the UK austerity regimen vs. the insane US political mid-term election nightmares are playing out in your neck of the woods.  After Christine O’Donnell (“I am not a witch”) as a candidate, the world must thing there is something wrong with our drinking water.

Me: UK Austerity...whew...I believe we'll fortunate enough to not feel the impact from the changes-we don't rely on state benefits of any kind (housing, child care/credits, unemployment, utility supplement, healthcare, higher education supplement...) the list goes on and on and on and on and on....Which, should clue you in to the problems at hand. As someone who used to think that Socialism wasn't that bad, I've completely swung the other way since moving to the UK. The *expectation* that the government will take care of you-regardless of whether or not you try to take care of yourself-just kills me. With cuts to the higher education 'supplement' grads can now be expected to pay up to £9k/year for tuition-though, admittedly, 20 years ago, it was all free. But, when I told Simon just last night that most Americans with kids are told to set aside $100-200k for their children's 4 year education, he finally understood why I thought that £9k a year was a joke. That's just one example. I should get off my soapbox though, or I'll write a book-and bore you to tears with it.

On the flip-side, Simon & I were in Las Vegas last week for his brother's wedding. We heard more TV/Radio ads for the Sherry Angle/Harry Reid showdown in 4 years then I think I've heard my entire life! Crazy. Angle's stance on most things scared me more than what was already wrong in Nevada (one in 25 homes in Vegas is in some stage of reposession...), and she was building a campaign on hate & intolerence. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw that Reid maintained his position after Tuesday.

Coverage here has been 'interesting'. I think most view the election results as a sign that Obama has failed-though I don't read it that way. But, ironically, I think more hopes were pinned on Obama from the UK than the US to begin with, so the sentiment makes sense.

Perhaps I'm wrong about all of the above, it's just merely how I've seen things the past few weeks/ months.  Would be curious to know how any other American Expats in the UK see the 'Austerity cuts'-and conversely what any British Expats (or Americans...)think about the recent mid-term elections.  Thoughts?...

6 comments:

  1. I might have a thought or two. I haven't talked about the austerity cuts much yet, except to mention all the rioting in Europe. My posts were before the student riots yesterday. I've covered lots of politics though.
    Second item on austerity:
    http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/late-night-links.html
    Links to riot info in the middle:
    http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/10/fall-depression.html
    Politics:
    http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/11/while-you-were-sleeping.html
    http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/10/on-what-to-expect-when-america-votes.html
    Plus check out the Stratfor link in this post. It is the bit about Americans missing what Europeans saw in Obama.
    http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/11/guy-fawkes-comment-bump.html

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  2. You make some interesting points. My question: You said you don't rely on government healthcare, I assume NHS? What do you do for health coverage there? (if you don't mind my asking of course).
    I think you can have too much of a good thing, Socialism in moderation is certainly not bad, but it can create a "welfare state" if it's doled out too easily. The only thing I would mildly disagree with is the hopes pinned on Obama more in the UK. What I know of what Europeans hoped for of Obama seem the same things that made me vote for him. I really did believe everything would change. Part of why I plan to leave the US is because I don't feel we'll really recover from this mess quick enough for me to experience any real prosperity before I'm too old to enjoy it. Especially if the radical edges of the other party actually gain real power. There are no Tea-Partyers there (tell me if I'm wrong?) and for me that's just one less "hassle". It seems like much of what happens in the UK government is similar to the US government, but less so. Like living there, I'll still have gripes about the government, I just expect it will be far fewer that what I have here.
    take care
    Gennifer

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  4. @Gennifer..you ask a good question/make a good point about NHS. I use NHS minimally-and frequently just to get myself in the door for private care. It is a rather odd thing...I pay for privatised health care, but still have to rely on the governmnet health care to 'give me permission' to use what I pay for. Not that dis-similar to specialist health care in the US however, when needing a referral from your Primary Care Physician.
    @AH..thanks for your blog posts. I found them a very good read-though in truth if we were in the US, we would very likely find ourselves on the complete-opposite end of the political spectrum. It is odd-and something I haven't yet verbalized in my of my blogging, but I do find myself becoming a bit more socially conservative since I've arrived in the UK. Partially due to @Gennifer's comment about 'too much of a good thing' and partially due to...I don't know what.
    But, with a life-changing experience like living abroad, it's only fitting that parts of my belief system have changed as well!

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  5. @Kristina, that makes sense. Thank you for answering. It also makes sense that your political views would change seeing how another country does it differently. :)

    ReplyDelete
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