Sydney Hosmann FageotColumnists
- November 14, 2018 in Columnists
An American Socialist in France
I am an American woman, born and raised in California to a middle class family (in the ’60s and ’70s, when that was a thing), and in early 1984 I moved to France. Two of the first things I noticed on the cab ride from the airport to my future abode were that everyone dresses in black here and that you won’t get spit on if you say you are Socialist (or even Communist!).
How did I notice the second thing in one cab ride? Well, there were political symbols of all factions everywhere and nobody seemed to notice or care. I was shocked! I also saw many bi-racial couples out in public and no one was pitching a hissy fit, but that’s another subject entirely and things have changed here too since then, sadly enough.
I have lived in France for 34 years, had numerous jobs (salaried and self-employed, so I’ve tasted all the flavors), been married and divorced and married again, raised three children and am a home owner. My children are all grown up and my husband and I are looking towards retirement, but we still have a few more years of work ahead of us.
Why am I boring you with these details? Just setting the stage. Bear with me.
I read posts on Facebook all the time. (Hi everyone! My name is Sydney and I’m a Facebook addict!) I have many friends in the U.S., so I very often read posts that have led me to believe that in the States, as soon as you say “Socialism,” people’s brains go directly to “Facism” or “Dictatorship.” That is so wrong!
I’m not a political expert and even less an economist, but I can tell you what it’s like to live in a Socialist country. First hand!
First, the bad stuff: The government takes about 25 percent out of your earnings for taxes and social charges. It’s a digressive tax to a point, and augments for larger salaries, but not so much for these last. Second, we have a 20 percent “Value Added Tax” (VAT or VTA). I don’t know what they do with that, but the social charges are for programs, like allocations for child care, basic and emergency medical care for everyone, schools (my daughter went to nursing school for free!), and something they call “the young child allocation” that everyone gets when their children are younger than 3 years old, starting with two children.
All of this means that a person who never gets sick or doesn’t want to have children might feel like s/he’s paying for everyone else and be a bit sour on the idea.
Now the good stuff. If your kid breaks his leg or your spouse gets cancer, health care will be free! If your kids need braces (all three of them) you can get them. And, if you have a mutual health pan (most jobs include this in the benefits package and if they don’t, you won’t be ruined by paying for one yourself) you can even get the pretty ceramic ones. Glasses won’t be a problem either.
My husband and I are not rich. We were even less so when our children were young. He had a slightly better than minimum wage income and I was working part time in order to be with the kids more. We didn’t go on vacation every year and our kids weren’t wearing Nike but we had a roof (thanks to the housing and child care allocations), clothing and food.
When my daughter broke her leg, it was taken care of. When my son split his head open, it was sutured immediately, and last year when my husband was hospitalized for two weeks, it didn’t put us out on the street. All of that was free! I also have an ongoing treatment with regular lab analyses, which costs me nothing.
We are not an extraordinary family when compared to all the other middle class families around us. So, does it bother me to pay 50 percent? (Now I’m self-employed, and for the last 20 years, that’s what I pay out.) Sometimes. I’ll have to admit, it does sometimes when I’ve had a bad month and it feels like 50 percent of nothing. But then I look at what those two weeks of hospital care would have cost us and it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Piece of mind just doesn’t have a price tag, as far as I’m concerned. And are there cheaters? People that use the system in an irresponsable way? Of course there are! But show me a system where no one cheats and we’ll talk about that. I’d rather pay for a few cheaters and know that me and all my fellow citizens are taken care of. Well, not all of them because, sadly, there are still people that don’t have a minimum necessary. But that’s also another subject.
I just wanted to give you all another perspective on Socialism. And yes, I get to pick my own healthcare professionals, and we aren’t all obliged to wear a brown onesy. (Although there is the black thing. What’s up with that? ). I also frequently criticize our government and no one has come in the middle of the night to take me to a secret debriefing plant. (At least I don’t remember, if they did.)
- November 17, 2018 at 5:50 pm