Before we moved to the US there were quite a few negative opinions of America when we told people we were going away. A lack of gun control, no universal healthcare, tipping. Most people would say they loved parts of the country; New York, Las Vegas, Disneyland, but that they weren’t necessarily fond of the people. Visions of brash overweight Americans wearing visors and bum bags, Presidents like GW Bush who didn’t have a passport until he gained office, people who had no idea of global geography.
Now we’ve been here a couple of months I feel I can confidently say that for all those stereotypes, there are a hundred more reasons to enjoy this place. The people are truly friendly; from school parents to shop assistants, everyone is happy to help out, talk to you and engage in the interaction. The landscape is beautiful, Melbourne could get some tips from the Boston Public Transport system (it actually works across buses and trains). Yes they have massive problems with gun control, but universal healthcare is slowly coming in, Obamacare seems to be making a difference. The state of Vermont has implemented a program that covers everyone – yes universal healthcare – and on initial budgetary projections looks to save the state millions of dollars. Tipping I am getting used to, and although I don’t agree with it, am comfortable not punishing the staff that are getting so poorly paid by trying to prove a point. It seems like Obama is actually getting somewhere. A huge advantage that he’s not up for re-election so can actually get on with the job, but he has to fight with Congress every step of the way.
I’ve been following the Australian political scene a little bit since being away and you know what? There are plenty of reasons not to be proud of our country. Our treatment of asylum seekers, the life expectancy of the Aboriginal community, and a government who continue to embarrass us all in their lack of integrity. I read today that Minister Pyne has thrown out the Gonski report, without any great explanation. Why? Just because Labour thought of it? We need political leaders that are prepared to see beyond themselves and identify what is best for humanity, regardless of where the ideas come from, and be proud to look back at the next election and be able to honestly say they made Australia and the world a better place to live. Australians are happy people, and should be strive to be open minded, inclusive and willing to help those who need a hand no matter where they come from.