Sweden <--> Ohio: Student

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Awake, worried.


Mostly about money but also mundane stuff like fitting in, getting around, adjusting, and a lot of anxiety about social foot-in-mouth as a result of being a Dumb American. Great fear, that one, that of being a dumb American and also knowing that I'm being relied upon to represent our country (the people of which I don't actually believe are all as sucky as the politicians, corporations, and marketing departments have lead me to believe).


There's a social event in roughly a month I think where I'm expected to present... a song and dance and speech sort of affair. I don't have anything to wear and am petrified about presenting. What to say? What to wear (and should I go shopping now, where it'll be cheaper, but require fitting into the limited space of my luggage)?


So how could I possibly represent 'us'? (America, the United States, the slavering consumerist masses that constitute the non-Canadian part of North America). What right do I, social and political malcontent, have to represent the whole country at some university event (Yes, it's a big deal, they specifically emailed me and said to pack something formal and start planning now)?



“We aren't as dumb as we look. Really.”


Despite our skyrocketing health care costs, and astounding costs of prescription drugs, we've allowed our drug companies to market to uninformed consumers. Consumers now self-diagnose invented illnesses and ask their not-very-trusted doctors for the solution to their life's problems by name (after watching a 60 second TV commercial consisting mostly of a soothing jingle and pandering to our need to believe in a magic bullet cure for our lifestyle-induced chronic illnesses).


Our political system is a sham. Politicians compete for votes by competing with commercial donors for campaign contributions so they can buy more TV 'spots' in influential districts. By some accounts the present leader of our country wasn't even elected, instead seizing power through a shady voting scam involving his governor cousin. Half the countries' voters are holding their breath until the new presidential elections and hoping the political system holds out long enough to keep Bush from nuking anyone or declaring martial law.


Despite record unemployment (and underemployment, and 'restructuring'), we've eliminated almost all of our social welfare programs, along with our subsidies for college education, unemployment insurance, and most terrifying; the accelerated financial atrophy of the educational system. We're instead funding the slaughter of increasingly unprepared and unqualified solders fighting a 'war' that is both unethical and unwinable.


I'm so exhausted just thinking about those items that I can't even talk about the damage we willfully inflict on the environment (not even in the name of progress, this is political head-burying long after the dragon's turned around to claim it's tail).



Really, I want to say our people are better than that. We're better than the astronomical personal debt, lack of investments in our future, our environment, and our own health, not to mention any sort of securing of those resources for our kid's futures. But I'm not quite sure how.


We have to be better than that.

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