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A Journey of a Thousand Miles

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People in the US think it's all about health care this time around. They haven't seen anything yet.

Right now the discussion's about whether health care or not and whether mandatory or not. Anything less than mandatory isn't going to work and everybody knows that. With less than mandatory all people will get is a few crumbs brushed off the edge of the table. Business goes on as usual.

But what they don't get - what they've never heard of - is this is only the tip of the iceberg. The first step. Of a journey of a thousand miles.

For health care is one thing; social insurance is another - the civil right to a 'decent standard of living'. No matter what. No matter sickness or unemployment. No matter fucking what.

It hardly helps to have health care if you're going to be laid up in a hospital for weeks or months and lose your job. You need social insurance as well.

Take Sweden as an example. The Swedish model is good but it's not unique. Most countries in the 'developed world' have similar systems today.

  1. Call in sick to work for any reason up to six days without a doctor's paper. And retain 90% of your normal income. And if you don't have a job the health service pays you an income instead - in addition to your health care 'costs'.
  2. For prolonged illnesses never fall below 80% of your normal income. No matter what.
  3. Mothers get 100% full subsidy - no need to work - up to ten months in connection with and after a pregnancy.
  4. All children up to the age of 18 get subsidies from the government.
  5. Employees up to the age of 30 are guaranteed five full weeks of holidays per year. These weeks can be 'saved' for up to five years.
  6. Holidays are 'paid holidays': 12.5% of one's income is saved - in addition to take home pay - each month and is paid out before - and not after - you go on holidays. So you always have money to play around with - more money than if you were still at work.
  7. People who've turned 30 get SIX weeks paid holidays; those who turn 35 get SEVEN weeks paid holidays. And so forth. Those who've turned 50 get TEN weeks paid holidays - and afterwards 'that's it'. No more frivolities for you.
  8. Fathers of small children get 'pappaledigt': they get paid time off from work (a few weeks) each year to be with their children full time.
  9. You cannot get fired from your job for any reason at any time. If you've really been 'naughty' your company will still have to go to court. And you keep getting full pay anyway.

And if all else fails the 'safety net' catches you: for you're guaranteed by law ('socialtjänstlagen') to not only have a 'minimal' standard of living but a 'reasonable' standard of living. No skimping allowed. The government subsidises you if all else fails. No exceptions.

Scandinavian countries don't have ghettos or barrios. They may have ethnic neighbourhoods today but they have no slums. They have nothing such because there is no poverty. They have no poverty because everybody takes care of each other.

When people in the US start thinking about 'should we have health care' they still have no clue how much they've been kept in the dark by their predator companies. They have no clue of the extent of the screwjob their governments keep pulling on them. They have no clue.

But health care - and nothing less than mandatory health care - is a good first step. It's still an incredibly long journey for people in the US to catch up with the rest of the world. But you have to take that first step sooner or later.

You might as well take it now.

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